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University Seeks Better Corrosion Protection

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

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At James Cook University in North Queensland, Australia, four PhD students are setting up to research rare earth inhibitors and their useful properties for corrosion protection in steel infrastructure.

The project is to be led by JCU Chemistry Professor, Peter Junk.

About the Research

According to Junk, in one year the world spends roughly $4 trillion dollars on corrosion costs for the safety and durability protection of its infrastructure assets. He adds that the problem will only get worse for bridges, water cooling towers, car radiators, oil and gas pipelines, and in shipping and aviation, among other structures, as climate change becomes a larger issue.

Given the projected increases in temperatures, sea levels, aerosol generation and carbon dioxide, Junk predicts that the environment will be even more equipped to raise corrosion impacts.

James Cook University

At James Cook University in North Queensland, Australia, four PhD students are setting up to research rare earth inhibitors and their useful properties for corrosion protection in steel infrastructure.

Traditionally, corrosion in steel infrastructure is prolonged with chemical inhibitors and chromate salts. However, Junk reports that the for almost 30 years, research has been working to find a more effective and environmentally friendly way to replace the use of chromate ion and its toxic nature.

Now, four PhD students from JCU, along with Junk, have been tasked with researching the use of rare earth inhibitors—17 relatively common chemical elements found widely dispersed along the Earth’s crust—which have been known to have anti-corrosion properties and are less impactful on the surrounding environment.

“We’re going to make a comprehensive examination of the nature and function of the protective film formed by rare earth inhibitors on steel surfaces,” said Junk. “Then we’re going to make improved inhibitors in the expectation that we will get a better product out of it both in terms of environmental sustainability and in the practical effect of protecting material.”

The research hopes to find that the rare earth inhibitors could become a bulk-use option for extensive rare earth resources and would directly aid Australia’s rare earth producers and explorers.

“Our aims are at the cutting edge of corrosion science and our methods and equipment will be too. We’ll be taking the advantage of the unique capabilities of atom probe tomography in probing both structural and chemical features of metal surfaces at nano and atomic levels for the first time,” Junk stated.

This project is being funded by a $420,000 Australian Research Council Discovery Project grant.

Other Recent Corrosion Research

Last year, researchers based out of Northwestern University developed a new coating that repairs itself rapidly when scratched, scraped or cracked. Results also indicate that the coating is suitable for use underwater and in harsh chemical environments, such as acid baths, and can withstand strong turbulence.

The study was published in Research, the first Science Partner Journal recently launched by the American Association for the Advancement of Science working in collaboration with the China Association for Science and Technology and was supported by the Office of Naval Research.

In October, researchers based out of Ehime University, in Japan, found that the corrosion of steel bars found in reinforced concrete could be slowed by embedding concrete with aerobic bacteria. According to Science Daily, the corrosion can largely be attributed to electro-chemical reactions occurring in anodic and cathodic areas.

A few months later, researchers from the International Union of Laboratories and Experts in Construction Materials, Systems and Structures conducted a study focusing on the corrosion of steel bars used to internally strengthen structures made of reinforced concrete.

According to the studies, the two factors that most influence this type of corrosion are recognized as carbonation—the chemical reaction that occurs when a concrete covering comes into contact with carbon dioxide—and the presence of chlorides, chlorine compounds—which attack steel and create a loss of material.

From the work conducted, researchers were able to create what calls, “a catalog of parameters” that both highlight and define various degrees of influence that effect steel corrosion within reinforced concrete.


Tagged categories: AS; Australia; Colleges and Universities; Construction chemicals; Corrosion; Corrosion engineering; Corrosion inhibitors; Corrosion protection; Corrosion resistance; Quality Control; Research; Research and development

Comment from Dave Polovitz, (1/29/2020, 8:25 AM)

Car radiators will be affected by climate change? Please explain.

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