Corrosion Map App to Launch in Australia

MONDAY, MARCH 25, 2024

The Galvanizers Association of Australia (GAA), along with The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, announced that they have developed a new interactive map to track corrosion in Australia.

The GAA states that this new interactive map app is expected to help users estimate the corrosion rate for a site and determine whether their plans comply with standards set out in the National Construction Code.

About the App

The map reportedly follows pressure from the construction industry for more detailed and reliable data on corrosion rates, key factors in building design and choice of materials.

Right now, structural engineers are reliant on tools such as the Durability of Galvanizing Estimator on GAA’s website to help them find the appropriate type and thickness of coating that is needed to apply. The estimator’s more rudimentary evaluations are based mainly on the type of, and distance to, the nearest coast, states the researchers.

“It is a real game changer for engineers designing residential buildings, highways, bridges or industrial plants as it will provide real-location assessments of climate that include a 27-fold increase in data points from the current system’s salinity map,” said GAA CEO Peter Golding.

The app can reportedly provide readings with a more accurate reflection of local conditions than what is found through the current estimator. Researchers explained that the app uses a decade's worth of weather data to estimate the surface time of wetness and surface salt concentration at three-hourly intervals over a typical year.

This then allows calculation of an annual corrosion rate that can potentially be updated in the future as new climate data is made available.

“Corrosion is affected by much more than just distance from the sea,” Golding said. “To make better informed judgements, you have to factor in the building’s orientation and any landscape or design features which may impact its exposure to rain, prevailing winds or sunlight.”

The app, which will be accessible through GAA’s website later this year, will also take into account the local generation, transport and deposition of salt aerosols, the effect of rain washing and the extent to which the site is shielded by nearby buildings, all of which affect corrosion levels.

“If it’s in the CBD of a capital city, there will generally be more protection from airborne salt from the ocean than there would be in a rural location, so that has to be taken into account as well,” Golding stated.

Another one of the app’s advantages, according to researchers, is expected to come into play over time as weather patterns become disrupted by climate change.

“When new data is available we’ll be able to reconfigure its analyses and predictions based on actual weather events,” Golding said. “So, if temperatures rise and there’s a resulting knock-on effect on rainfall and wind, that will be reflected in the reported corrosion rates. That’s simply not possible with the current static database.”

He added that this would be crucial as rainfall, temperatures and the severity of storms change over time.

“If a region becomes more prone to flooding or rain dries up completely, those changes will inform the advice on corrosion rates,” Golding said. “If stronger winds carry more salt, it’ll generally cause an increase in the corrosion rate so a thicker galvanized coating may be appropriate.”

The app can reportedly provide readings with a more accurate reflection of local conditions than those found through the estimator. Researchers explain that the app uses 10 years of weather data to calculate the surface time of wetness and surface salt concentration at three-hourly intervals over a typical year.

The amount of moisture in the air can also affect the dew point, meaning that if the relative humidity is low, surface salts will be dry, resulting in a lesser impact.

In contrast, high humidity levels can limit airborne salt aerosol transport inland, highlighting that the effect of climate change on corrosion is complex and may vary across Australia, meaning that it can’t be generalized.

“All of these considerations will combine to produce a highly localized estimate of corrosion rate that engineers can be more confident of using,” he said. “And it’s not just for the construction itself. It’ll also be invaluable in working out how regularly a structure needs to be washed to remove a build-up of salt, particularly those spaces not exposed to rainwater such as verandahs and balconies.”

The new map’s launch comes as changes are reportedly about to be introduced to the National Construction Code. New requirements for residential buildings have reportedly been designed to make it easier for engineers to understand if their plans are compliant.

“The advice will be clearer and more prescriptive, so it’ll be even more critical to know local corrosion rates,” Golding said. “The new app won’t just calculate the conditions more reliably; it’ll also come up with the optimal galvanized coating and the minimum thickness of steel required to achieve this.”

Additionally, the app should be able to estimate how many years the coating on the structure will last, and when any re-galvanizing may need to happen. If more durability is needed, then adjustments can reportedly be made in the design phase to reach the outcome.

“It’s a transformational innovation,” Golding said, “and we can’t wait to share it with engineers across Australia.”

Other Infrastructure Tools

At the beginning of this year, a report from advanced robotics and enterprise software company Gecko Robotics and climate technology company Rho Impact detailed how robots and artificial intelligence can improve their data collection to help maintain crumbling infrastructure and bring about a zero-carbon economy.

The report was published in the World Economic Forum and details how despite AI’s potential to stop the negative effects of climate change, the issue of data collection has often been overlooked.

According to the report, about 90% of private and public sector CEOs have stated that AI could be an essential tool to fight against climate change; however, 75% have stated that they don’t have much trust in the data that is collected.

Gecko explained that AI models are only as good as the data they have trained with, relying on “robust and granular data sets” to find patterns and trends to allow the models to learn and develop predictive capability.

The study said that the energy sector, which accounts for 80% of emissions in the United States and Europe, is an example of how data quality can affect climate goals. Achieving a timely and just transition to net zero reportedly requires strict data clarity, specifically related to power generation infrastructure and emissions.

Gecko says that the shift towards data-informed decision-making can produce a strong base for the broader application of AI, with an emphasis on the role of accurate data in achieving net-zero emissions in important infrastructure across sectors.

This new shift could reportedly be the difference between seamless operations and catastrophic failures at places like oil and gas refineries, power plants and manufacturing facilities.

Additionally, the report added that this meant that people could feed and train AI to make accurate predictions, helping to optimize operations and improve sustainability metrics.

The recent report by Rho Impact reportedly showed the environmental impact potential of using robotics and AI at scale against a single problem in the power generation industry: boiler tube failures.

The report added that eliminating boiler tube failures inside power plants by pairing robotic inspections with AI-powered software could decrease carbon dioxide emissions across the globe by as much as 230 million metric tons, the same as 4.8% of U.S. emissions.

The study found that even the most sophisticated AI systems reportedly cannot expect to perform their best without good data, which is now the problem to solve.

Over the next decade, the companies said that every industry will be affected by AI. However, there is still reportedly a large risk of these decisions being made with the assistance of algorithms trained on incomplete or unrepresentative data.

Because of this, the report added that operators must begin giving these technologies first-order data sets.


Tagged categories: Asia Pacific; Colleges and Universities; Construction; Corrosion; Corrosion protection; Digital tools; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Health & Safety; Infrastructure; Infrastructure; Latin America; North America; Program/Project Management; Quality Control; Research; Research and development; Technology; Z-Continents

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