UDRI maintains and operates the US Air Force's Particle Erosion Test Facility at Wright-Patterson AFB. This facility is part of the Air Force Research Laboratory's Materials Degradation Test Facility. A Cooperative Research & Development Agreement (CRADA) with the Air Force allows us to provide easy access for commercial customers.
The "dust rig" was designed and developed in 1983 to simulate erosion effects on aircraft surfaces subjected in flight to dust-laden environments. It has been recently upgraded to test the larger mass loading seen by helicopter rotors. Typically, crushed silica in sizes ranging from 38 to 250 microns is used as the test media. Specimens are translated in front of an oscillating nozzle. The 6-inch square test area is uniformly covered with a pre-determined mass of particles of a known size at a measured speed. Impact angles from normal to 20 degrees (70 degrees angle of incidence) can be tested, and many specimen configurations are possible. A calibrated screw feed in a plenum tank and an electronic pressure controller ensure correct mass delivery and stability, and a laser Doppler anemometry system is used to determine a delivery pressure for the required velocity.
Test parameters and results are treated in a proprietary manner and our database is accessed only under a strict USAF need basis. A User's Guide (PDF) further describes the facility and testing parameters. Specimens may be shipped for testing, and visitors are welcome. Please contact Cheryl Castro or Andrew Phelps (information at right) to learn more about the particle erosion facility or scheduling time for your projects.