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QuesTek Wins SBIR Phase II Award to Design and Develop a Tuned Low-Voltage Sacrificial Anode Aluminum Alloy

May 11, 2011

EVANSTON, IL, May 11, 2011 - QuesTek Innovations LLC has been awarded a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project from the U.S. Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) to apply QuesTek’s Materials by Design® technology to design and develop a new low-voltage sacrificial anode alloy. The 2-year contract is valued at $598,794.

During this project QuesTek will computationally design a sacrificial anode aluminum alloy to have an open circuit potential (OCP) tuned to about -0.8V (relative to Ag/AgCl reference electrode), provide high current-carrying capacity, and use economical manufacturing processes. Production of the alloy will be demonstrated at commercial-scale levels, and long-term performance tests in seawater will be performed. It is also anticipated that an initial domestic producer of this alloy will be established and qualified, and that performance data generated during this project will be sufficient to include the new alloy in the MIL-DTL-24779 specification.

While the use of sacrificial anodes to reduce general corrosion in steel ships and structures is widespread, most conventional aluminum- or zinc-based sacrificial anodes provide an OCP of about -1.0V (relative to Ag/AgCl). By being tuned to an OCP of about -0.8V, QuesTek’s new alloy is expected to reduce hydrogen charging, hydrogen embrittlement (HE) and stress corrosion cracking (SCC) in high-strength steels used in some ships and structures, thus reducing equipment maintenance costs. In addition, this SBIR project is expected to increase U.S. manufacturing output of sacrificial anode materials.

Potential applications for QuesTek’s new low-voltage sacrificial anode aluminum alloy beyond Navy ships may include vessels, structures and devices that expose high-strength steels to marine or corrosive environments, such as off-shore drilling platforms, pipelines and process equipment.

Charlie Kuehmann, President and CEO of QuesTek, commented: “We thank the Navy for this SBIR Phase II award, and the opportunity to meet this important need by rapidly designing and developing a new tuned sacrificial anode. This project builds upon our past successes such as Ferrium® C61, C64, M54 and S53® alloys, developed in part with Department of Defense funding and now sold to commercial, industrial and governmental customers worldwide by U.S.-based alloy producers under their licenses from QuesTek.”


QuesTek Innovations LLC (www.questek.com) is a global leader in Integrated Computational Materials Engineering (ICME) technologies, serving government and industrial private sectors. Using its proprietary Materials by Design® methodology, QuesTek has rapidly developed breakthrough alloys (based on Fe, Cu, Al, Ti, Co, Mo, W systems), coatings, powders, and other materials that provide improved performance, reduced capital (as well as operating and maintenance costs) and provide competitive advantage. QuesTek has developed four steels that are being used in demanding aerospace and other applications, has a large portfolio of other materials nearing commercialization with more than 20 US patents awarded/pending and relevant international IP coverage. For more information, please contact Jeff Grabowski.

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