Investing in a Cleaner Future

R&D – and patience – lead to environmentally responsible new materials for aircraft.
Aug 27, 2015 2:45 PM ET

Finding solutions to some of the tough environmental issues facing the aerospace industry isn’t easy or fast. But Jill Seebergh and a team of engineers and scientists in Boeing’s Chemical Technology Group aren’t daunted by the long lead times in research and development.

“Developing a new technology can take ten years or longer. But if you don’t take the first step and try new ideas, then at the end of ten years you have nothing,” said Seebergh, a Technical Fellow in the group that leads research and development. “It’s worth the investment of time and resources when we successfully implement environmentally progressive materials and processes.”

The patience and persistence have paid off. Seebergh’s group develops paints, primers and other surface coatings with a focus on non-toxic substances that can replace hazardous chemicals—most notably hexavalent chromium, which is widely used to prevent corrosion on commercial and military aircraft.