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Advanced Nondestructive Inspection System for Detection and Characterization of Corrosion under Thick Coatings


OUSD (R&E) CRITICAL TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Advanced Materials; Sustainment


The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120-130, which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services, including export of sensitive technical data, or the Export Administration Regulation (EAR), 15 CFR Parts 730-774, which controls dual use items. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals (FNs), their country(ies) of origin, the type of visa or work permit possessed, and the statement of work (SOW) tasks intended for accomplishment by the FN(s) in accordance with the Announcement. Offerors are advised foreign nationals proposed to perform on this topic may be restricted due to the technical data under US Export Control Laws.


OBJECTIVE: Develop a new Nondestructive Inspection (NDI) system capable of: (1) detecting decohesion of a thick coating from its substrate and (2) characterizing the presence of corrosion under very thick polymer coating sections. The system will be used to inspect the entire immersed portion of a ship hull autonomously (either tethered or autonomously) and map the location and extent of corrosion without damaging the coating.


DESCRIPTION: Some situations exist where the condition of the substrate needs to be assessed in situ under thick polymeric coatings. This assessment includes the degree of adhesion of the coating to the substrate and the condition of the substrate from a corrosion perspective. There are several potential non-destructive technologies that may be able to “see” through thick coatings. The SBIR topic includes assessment of select non-destructive technologies to monitor interfacial coating/substrate phenomena and substrate corrosion as a function of coating thickness. The accuracy and reliability should also be addressed. The system will be used to inspect the entire immersed portion of a ship hull autonomously (either tethered or autonomously) and map the location and extent of corrosion without damaging the coating.


Work produced in Phase II may become classified. Note: The prospective contractor(s) must be U.S. owned and operated with no foreign influence as defined by 32 U.S.C. § 2004.20 et seq., National Industrial Security Program Executive Agent and Operating Manual, unless acceptable mitigating procedures can and have been implemented and approved by the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA) formerly Defense Security Service (DSS). The selected contractor must be able to acquire and maintain a secret level facility and Personnel Security Clearances. This will allow contractor personnel to perform on advanced phases of this project as set forth by DCSA and ONR in order to gain access to classified information pertaining to the national defense of the United States and its allies; this will be an inherent requirement. The selected company will be required to safeguard classified material during the advanced phases of this contract IAW the National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual (NISPOM), which can be found at Title 32, Part 2004.20 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Reference: National Industrial Security Program Executive Agent and Operating Manual (NISP), 32 U.S.C. § 2004.20 et seq. (1993).


PHASE I: Explore the various non-destructive technologies through a literature search and downselect to the two or three most promising Non-destructive evaluation (NDE) options or propose a new inspection methodology. Selection will be based on the potential of the NDE processes to penetrate coatings thicknesses to evaluation coating adhesion, substrate conditions, and coating defects over various conditions of surface roughness. The proposed methods should be validated via modeling and simulation or experimentally by fabricating and testing of simple coupons. For validation purposes, coatings of various thicknesses will be applied to steel plates using a specified standard. The coupons should have at least one surface defect region with a diameter no larger than half the coating thickness, but smaller size defects would be preferable. The NDE methods should be assessed as to the quality and accuracy of the objective measurements. There should be minimal loss of signal responses as a function of coating thickness. The speed at which the requisite information can be obtained (ft2/minute) will also be an evaluation parameter. Offerors must show at least one NDE technology that can reliably characterize the quality of the adhesive interface layer as a function of coating thickness, assess the spatial resolution of the technique, and assess the substrate surface conditions such as corrosion including at site with significant surface roughness.


During the Phase I Option period, if exercised, identify key areas of the proposed solution that need further improvement or development, and depending on the availability of funds, validate the modifications. Evaluate possible methods to autonomously inspect the entire submersed portion of the platform. Plan for Phase II.


PHASE II: The NDE technology(ies) selected in Phase I should be further tested using larger coated coupons of the size necessary to better gauge what the speed (ft2/minute) of detection of decohesive sites, coating defects, and substrate corrosion, if present. Work with a Navy laboratory for collaborations in assisting the offeror in maturing and transitioning the NDE technologies. Further modeling validation will be required and further testing to assert the reliability and sensitivity of the NDE technology will be needed. Other acceptance testing as dictated by the Navy Laboratory should also be done.


Work in Phase II may become classified. Please see note in the Description.


PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: The ability of some NDE methods to penetrate most non-metallic materials allows non-contact examination of materials that are opaque in the visible range such as concrete, insulating foam, and alloy surfaces. The properties of interest across the industries may be broadly categorized into three areas—layer thickness, defects and contamination, and material characterization. Although the key parameters of interest are application-specific, the advantage of some NDE methods over other mature technologies is in providing new information. There may be commercial applications for the technology developed during Phase II, depending on the type of information obtained by employing this NDE technology. The possible use will depend on the degree of attenuation through an alternative medium. Potential uses could be the condition of rebar (degree of corrosion, if any through concrete pillars for a bridge).



  1. Dwivedi, Sandeep Kumar; Vishwakarma, Manish and Soni, Akhilesh. “Advances and Researches on Non-Destructive Testing: A Review.” Materials Today: Proceedings, Volume 5, Issue 2, Part 1, 2018, pp. 3690-3698
  2. Henneke, E.G. et al. “Thermography ? An NDI Method for Damage Detection.” Journal of The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society, September 1979, pp.11-15.
  3. Sachin, S D Siv, Vijayan, Vivek and Kini, Rajeev N. “Non-destructive evaluation of coatings using terahertz reflection spectroscopy.” Journal of Optics, Volume 24, Issue 4, 11 March 2022.


KEYWORDS: Non-destructive evaluation; corrosion; decohesion; coatings; welding; sensors

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