U.S. Air Force Ditches Toxic Paint, Goes Green with PreKote

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The U.S. Air Force is using PreKote, a nontoxic coating, to replace harsh chemicals in its corrosion control efforts.

The U.S. Air Force, which has been soaring into the wild green yonder on alternative fuels and other sustainability measures, has added paint to its roster of more earth-friendly maneuvers.  At Robins Air Force Base in Georgia, the Air Force has been easing away from toxic formulas, using PreKote to protect its aircraft from corrosion.  PreKote is a propriety nontoxic base coating manufactured by Pantheon Chemical of Phoenix, Airizona.


The new coating replaces highly toxic and potentially carcinogenic anti-corrosion products based on chemicals such as hexavalent chromium, which the Department of Defense has targeted for elimination throughout the armed forces, using the force of an urgently worded memorandum issued last spring.

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The U.S. Armed Forces and Corrosion Control

Corrosion prevention is a level-A priority throughout the armed services.  The DOD maintains a special office to coordinate the effort and the Air Force also maintains its own corrosion control office at Robins Air Force Base.  Until now, pretreating aircraft surfaces prior to painting has been a cumbersome process that included suiting up in full protective gear including a respirator, to apply an acid etch and a coating based on hexavalent chromium, also known as Chromium 6, the toxic chemical made famous by Erin Brokovich.

The U.S. Air Force and PreKote

This week the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center received an award from the U.S. EPA for its conversion to PreKote.  According to writer Wayne Crenshaw of the 78th Air Base Wing Public Affairs Office, PreKote has been a big hit and base personnel are reporting that it appears to offer improved performance among its other advantages.  The product has been used for the past three years on C-130’s, and more recently on C-5’s.  In a few weeks, tests will begin on a C-17 as well.  Worker safety is just one advantage for PreKote, which Pantheon Chemical describes as a proprietary, hazard-free formula.  PreKote also reduces the costs associated with surface preparation that are imposed by conventional acid etches and solvent washes.  And on top of that, PreKote eliminates environmental hazards associated with spills, leaks, and waste disposal.

Image: stefg74 on flickr.com.

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Tina Casey

Tina specializes in advanced energy technology, military sustainability, emerging materials, biofuels, ESG and related policy and political matters. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on LinkedIn, Threads, or Bluesky.

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