New project to tackle surface corrosion

Article by Helen Tunnicliffe

A NEW £5m (US$6.5m) project led by BP and the University of Manchester, UK, will seek to better understand corrosion processes in harsh environments, with the aim of tackling it more effectively.

Corrosion and wear in tools, machinery, oil pipes, oil platforms, refineries and other industrial assets can pose safety problems, and according to corrosion authority NACE International, annual costs relating to corrosion and wear typically exceed US$2trn. Corrosion processes, however, are not well understood, and managing corrosion in industry largely relies on experience. The new collaborative research project, ‘Preventing Surface Degradation in Demanding Environments’, aims to change that.

The project partners, which also include experts from Imperial College London and the Universities of Cambridge, Leeds and Edinburgh, have been awarded the £5m by BP and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to find out what causes surface degradation and develop mitigation strategies. The partners already work together through the BP International Centre for Advanced Materials (BP-ICAM).

“By harnessing the latest advances in computer modelling, atomic-level in-situ experimental techniques and in-operando imaging and characterisation, this programme will focus on understanding corrosion scales and localised corrosion. Simply put, we aim to decipher the fundamental mechanisms that cause corrosion so that we can combat it more effectively in the future,” said Philip Withers, Manchester regius professor of materials and the project’s principle investigator.

Angelo Amorelli, BP technology vice president of group research, added that he hopes that the project will enable them to extend the safe operational lifetimes of current materials and to develop new ones.

Article by Helen Tunnicliffe

Senior reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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