Enviro-metal solves helicopter corrosion

PhD student Parama Banerjee at the CAST Cooperative Research Centre has developed a cheap and environmentally friendly alternative to the toxic coating currently used in Australian naval helicopters.

The magnesium alloy used to house the gearbox of Royal Australian Navy SeaHawk helicopters is prone to severe corrosion in marine environments, costing millions of dollars in maintenance every year.

To protect the alloy from corrosion, it is covered with a chrome-based coating that is toxic to humans and the environment.

Under joint supervision of the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) and researchers at Monash and Swinburne Universities, Ms Banerjee has developed a much-needed non-toxic alternative made from an environmentally friendly material called silane, which provides superior corrosion protection.

“The silane coating is completely biodegradable and non-toxic so people can handle it safely. It also delivers the maximum corrosion resistance ever achieved for magnesium alloys.”

Ms Banerjee says while the new technology is still in a preliminary stage, it may be used to repair the corroded gearbox housings of SeaHawk helicopters in the near future.

DSTO was working with the CAST Cooperative Research Centre – which specialises in industry-driven research into metals technology, to address corrosion issues for magnesium alloys. The coating developed by Ms Banerjee was the result of the collaboration between the two organisations.

Ms Banerjee says the CAST Cooperative Research Centre works “hand-in-hand” with DTSO to ensure the research is meeting their needs.

“We have regular meetings with our collaborators at DTSO. We want to ensure they are satisfied with what we are developing,” she says. “Being part of a Cooperative Research Centre is all about thinking about the science and the real-world applications at the same time.”

“My passion is to develop technologies that will benefit our civilisation. This research has taken an important step towards a greener world.”

Ms Banerjee was chosen as one of eight early career researchers to speak about her research at the Cooperative Research Centre Association conference in Brisbane this week. She says being involved in a Cooperative Research Centre has transformed her “from a shy girl to someone who can confidently speak in front of any crowd”.

Contact information

Ms Parama Banerjee
Phone: (03) 9905 5173
Skype: parama.banerjee2
Email: [email protected]

Ms Sue Keay
Manager, Communication, Business Development & Training
Phone: (07) 3365 3675
Email: [email protected]

CAST Cooperative Research Centre www.cast.org.au