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Navy Honors Corrosion, Coating Pioneer

Monday, June 18, 2012

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Keith Lucas may be a civilian, but that has not stopped him from leading a critical piece of the charge in the Navy’s long war on marine corrosion.

As the founder and longtime director of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory’s Center for Corrosion Science and Engineering, Lucas has invented protective coatings, cathodic protection systems and monitoring technology that have saved the Navy millions of dollars while extending the capability and life of ships and submarines across the fleet.

 Capt. Paul Stewart (right) presents the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award to Keith Lucas.

 U.S. Naval Research Laboratory / Jamie Hartman

Capt. Paul Stewart (right), Naval Research Laboratory commander, presents the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award to Keith Lucas.

Now, the Navy has recognized Lucas’s decades of contributions with one of its highest honors.

The materials scientist is the recipient of the 2012 Department of the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award—the highest Incentive Awards Program award that the NRL’s Commanding Officer can confer upon a civilian.

Saving $10M in Inspections

Corrosion damage to ships costs the Navy nearly $3 billion annually, with shipboard tanks and voids leading the expense.

“Early in his career, Lucas and his co-inventors developed a paired reference electrode and instrumented sacrificial anode system and remote data logger that allows for remote assessment of the state of preservation of shipboard tanks and voids,” said Dr. Richard Colton, superintendent, NRL Chemistry Division.

“This laid the foundation for the development of tank monitoring systems now being implemented in the surface combatant fleet.”

Those systems are projected to save the Navy nearly $10 million a year by reducing ballast tank opening, gas freeing, and manned entry for the purpose of tank coating inspections.

Corrosion and Coatings Support

Lucas is also internationally recognized as an authority in the mechanism, development and design of cathodic protection systems.

Since founding the Center for Corrosion in 2000, Lucas has made NRL the U.S. Navy’s premier engineering design agent for cathodic protection systems.

Located on Fleming Key, FL, the center’s Marine Corrosion Facility provides technical expertise to Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) and supports the command as a designated engineering agent (EA) for the Navy Materials/Corrosion/Coatings Technical Authority.

Advancing Cathodic Protection

Since 1990, Lucas and his colleagues have conducted scientific research in the field of cathodic protection modeling. The team of scientists and engineers led the early efforts to establish mathematical principles and scaling laws to develop physical scale modeling of marine vessels for the purpose of cathodic protection.

Lucas has led the team in developing and implementing rapid-cure single-coat tank coatings, tank monitoring systems, the Insertable Stalk Imaging System (ISIS), and the most sophisticated impressed current cathodic protection systems (ICCP) presently installed aboard Navy Virginia-class submarines.

Lucas holds a bachelor of science degree from Northeastern University in Boston and a master’s from the University of Delaware College of Marine Studies. He began his career as a materials research engineer at NRL’s Marine Corrosion Facility.


Tagged categories: Awards and honors; Cathodic protection; Coating inspection; Coatings technology; Corrosion control coatings; Protective coatings; Tanks and vessels; U.S. Navy

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