Corrosion and Degradation

The Corrosion and Degradation research theme at ICAM addresses technical challenges relating to degradation processes, such as localised corrosion, corrosion scales, microbiologically influenced corrosion, hydrogen embrittlement and high temperature hydrogen attack.
These processes have very significant societal, economic and safety implications for industry. Many industrial assets are susceptible to degradation including machinery, pipes, platforms and refineries. This is especially true when they’re exposed to the demanding environments that the energy industry encounters.
According to NACE International, the worldwide corrosion authority, it is estimated that the global annual costs related to corrosion alone are greater than $2.5Tr. Despite this large economic impact, the fundamental processes of corrosion are poorly understood and industry relies on operational experience for its management.
ICAM research is providing industry with a better understanding of the fundamental mechanisms of corrosion and degradation processes, and even developing new alloys that are resistant to corrosion, hydrogen embrittlement and high temperature hydrogen attack.
Developments from ICAM’s research are having a direct impact on the integrity and reliability of BP’s operations and assets by delivering:
  • a fundamental understanding of the mechanism of action of corrosion inhibitors leading to the development of better inhibitors
  • a deeper understanding of the mechanisms of how corrosion scales evolve leading to better strategies for the prediction, prevention and mitigation of corrosion
  • a better understanding of the mechanism of degradation processes such as hydrogen embrittlement, high temperature hydrogen attack and stress corrosion cracking

Preventing Surface Degradation in Demanding Environments

Although there have been impressive strides in the empirical understanding of corrosion, many of the underpinning assumptions and industrial practices date back decades. A collaborative research project, ‘Preventing Surface Degradation in Demanding Environments’, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is working to change that. The project brings together world class researchers from BP, The University of Manchester, Imperial College London and the University of Cambridge, who already work together on corrosion research through the ICAM, plus additional expertise from the Universities of Edinburgh and Leeds. 

The collaborative team have received £5m of joint funding from the EPSRC and BP to investigate the processes that cause surface degradation and to develop new strategies to mitigate them. 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. The project aims to decipher the fundamental mechanisms that cause corrosion so that we can combat it more effectively in the future.
The funding award is part of the EPSRC’s ‘Prosperity Partnerships’ scheme which aims to support existing, strategic, research-based collaborations between business and universities. The Prosperity Partnerships initiative is part of the UK Government’s wider Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund which, overall, has supported ten successful partnerships involving 17 universities and over 30 industrial partners.