Microwave Nondestructive Detection of Corrosion under Thin Paint and Primer in Aluminum Panels


Detection of corrosion, under paint and primer, in various metallic structural components, particularly when used in moist and salty environments is an important practical concern. Moreover, nondestructive testing techniques that do not require paint removal are desired. Near-field microwave nondestructive inspection techniques, employing open-ended rectangular waveguide probes, have shown tremendous potential for detecting and evaluating the presence of corrosion under paint in steel substrates. The objective of this investigation has been to investigate the potential of these techniques for detecting corrosion under paint and primer in aluminum substrates. To accomplish this goal, an electromagnetic formulation, simulating detection of corrosion in layered structure using open-ended rectangular waveguide probes, was used to gain an insight into the functionality of measurement parameters such as the frequency of operation and standoff distance. In conjunction with this simulation, the dielectric properties of paint, primer, real and chemically produced aluminum oxide were measured in a wide range of microwave frequencies (2.6-18 GHz). The results showed that the dielectric properties of paint, primer and aluminum oxide are very similar to each other. Subsequently, the theoretical simulation was conducted in a wide frequency band (8.2-40 GHz). The overall result of the simulation effort was that higher frequencies and standoff distances of a few mm are more optimal for detecting thin corrosion layers under paint. Two specially prepared aluminum panels with induced areas of corrosion and surface pitting were produced as well. Using these panels and several phase sensitive measurement systems, experiments were conducted producing 2-D images of various areas of these panels. Images were produced at different standoff distances and at frequencies of 9, 11.725, 24.1, and 33.5 GHz. The overall results of the experimental investigation were extremely promising when detecting the thin regions of corrosion in these panels. This paper presents the approach and results of this investigation.


Electrical and Computer Engineering


Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (U.S.)

Keywords and Phrases

Aluminum; Corrosion; Microwave Techniques; Nondestructive Testing; Paint; Primer; Corrosion and Pitting under Paint Detection and Evaluation

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


File Type





© 2001 Springer-Verlag, All rights reserved.