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Marine Corrosion ‘Magic Bullet’ Takes Research Honor

Thursday, June 16, 2011

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An innovative, electrochemically based corrosion-prevention process using seawater has won the Research, Studies and Consulting Award at the UK’s Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE) Engineering Excellence Awards.

More than 10 years in development, Mott MacDonald’s LATreat system is designed to fight accelerated low water corrosion (ALWC), a microbiologically induced corrosion that can cause premature perforation of unprotected steel and lead to total structural failure.

Seawater Based

LATreat is an environmentally friendly treatment that uses only the components of seawater to sterilize, and then deposit a protective coating on, marine steel structures affected by ALWC.

The process involves passing a phased electrical current through seawater. It takes about five days and does not require port closure.

 Mott MacDonald

 Mott MacDonald

LATreat is designed to address an accelerated form of corrosion that can occur in marine steel piled structures at low water.

The process requires no materials or permanent control equipment, creates no waste, and needs no ongoing monitoring or maintenance, the manufacturer says. The equipment used is removed when the process is complete.

Over its lifetime, LATreat is about half the cost of cathodic protection systems, the manufacturer says.

Mott MacDonald says the micro- and nanotechnology-based system can “both arrest the problem and provide long-term protection against future attack. It is a ‘magic bullet’ treatment…”

R&D Effort

The product has been in development for years. In 2006, the Technology Strategy Board, the UK government’s national innovation agency, offered to co-fund the full development of LATreat as a commercial product. The board brings together business, research and the public sector.

Mott MacDonald then put together a consortium made up of BAC Corrosion Control, Aberdeen Harbour Board, Port of London Authority and Shoreham Port Authority to develop and test the effectiveness of LATreat under real conditions.

Manchester University joined the team as its academic partner and carried out research to fully optimize the process. BAC Corrosion Control also developed and manufactured enhanced electrical current apparatus used during the process.

Full-scale site trials have been carried out at UK ports over several years. These have demonstrated the effectiveness of LATreat in dealing with ALWC in operating port facilities and producing a sustainable, durable and cost-effective treatment, Mott MacDonald says.

Mott MacDonald and BAC Corrosion Control share the patent on the system.

Market Plans

“We’re thrilled to have won this award, which recognizes over a decade of research and development,” LATreat project director Neil Henderson said in accepting the award last month in London.

“The involvement of UK ports to undertake full-scale site trials has been a major step in demonstrating the effectiveness of the process under real conditions. We’re now looking forward to using LATreat as a commercial product. As ALWC has been identified at over 90% of UK ports and throughout Europe, the USA, Canada, the Caribbean and Japan, the potential benefits of LATreat to the global ports sector are huge.”

The Mott MacDonald Group is a diverse management, engineering and development consultancy that serves public and private clients worldwide.


Tagged categories: Corrosion; Marine Coatings; Steel

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (6/17/2011, 8:43 AM)

Electrochemical scale deposition?

Comment from Paul Schultz, (6/17/2011, 9:03 AM)

A nice news article, but a technical description, or a link to one, would make it even better.

Comment from Mary Chollet, (6/17/2011, 10:46 AM)

We would have liked to provide more technical information, but Mott MacDonald has not made it available. I'm sure they consider it proprietary. This is all they have released on this project in several years.

Comment from Jerrod (Jake) McCann, (6/17/2011, 11:16 AM)

Call me a sceptic, but lots of red flags go up when I hear or see a developer/ patent holder use “Magic” as the part of the description of a treatment.

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (6/20/2011, 8:46 AM)

Secret magic, no less.

Comment from Michael Beitzel, (6/20/2011, 9:41 AM)

OK Your a sceptic and so am I. Ever since they gave Obama a Nobel Peace Prize before he even did anything I have become sceptical of these organizations especially ones that are only a couple of years old like this Association and more often than not exist to provide a great opportunity for firms to promote their work to a wide audience.

Comment from Jim B, (6/24/2011, 11:43 AM)

The first time that I ever saw patches of ALWC on maritime structures, "Magic" came to mind. For a corrosion mechanism to produce a polished surface finish (Sa3 equivalent?) on unprotected steel that had been immersed in seawater for several years was not something that I was expecting. "Magic" in formation of the problem and perhaps "Magic" in the treatment?

Comment from chris atkins, (1/11/2013, 6:44 AM)

hi folks, I work for Mott MacDonald and know a fair bit about Latreat. Forgive the press release for not being techincal, it was a press release, not an engineering description. For inf the association mentioned is 100 years old this year (not the 3 mentioned above). There's a bit of scale deposition plus some electrochemical cleaning involved. All the best Chris

Comment from Jim B, (1/17/2013, 4:59 AM)

For information, LATreat also won the "Innovation Award of the Year" for my old employer Mott MacDonald in 2011 at The British Expertise International Awards in addition to this ACE Engineering Excellence Award. I also know a little about this electrochemical treatment since I originally designed it (Patent GB2356405) and developed it with Dan Marshall, then at BAC Corrosion Control. I am also the principal author of CIRIA C634 guidance document on the management of ALWC (accelerated low water corrosion) for which this marine corrosion electrochemical treatment methodology was initially targeted.

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (1/22/2013, 2:38 PM)

Any interest in writing a more technical article?

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