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Research Opportunities in Corrosion Science and Engineering 4 Dissemination of the Outcomes of Corrosion Research The topic of dissemination has been located on this report’s iconic pyramid between corrosion science and the four corrosion grand challenges (CGCs) for convenience only. In fact dissemination of research results from each area of the pyramid to all of the others and to the application community is critical to the success of this endeavor. Corrosion science, carried out most often in universities and research laboratories, must be transmitted to scientists and engineers working in all of the CGCs, most commonly through the traditional means of publication and oral presentations. Materials scientists and engineers working on developing computational modeling in CGC II must learn of new developments in the underlying corrosion science, incorporate them into models, and transmit those models to scientists in CGC I developing new materials through the International Conference on Science and Engineering (ICMSE) as well as those working in CGC III on accelerated testing and CGC IV on prognosis. New materials, once developed, are moved into actual use through a dissemination process that involves suppliers and designers. Also, new sensors and strategies for testing—once stimulated by the introduction of new science, accelerated testing, and prognosis strategies—must pass through the process of acceptance by standards bodies and become regular practice for designers and manufacturers, which is another facet of dissemination. Rather than attempt to trace all of these interconnected dissemination paths for each element of the corrosion pyramid, this chapter is organized by dissemination methodology. Each dissemination operation is identified and discussed as it pertains to the corrosion research discussed elsewhere in this report.
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Research Opportunities in Corrosion Science and Engineering Effective dissemination of meaningful corrosion research results is a multifaceted challenge for the scientific and engineering communities. Communication across multicultural disciplines is difficult, as is educating and informing engineering practitioners with prioritized, useful results. Furthermore, the engineering community is often not able to accept research results that may not have been fully validated for the problem at hand, nor is it ready for implementation due to scale-up issues, the lack of supporting supplier infrastructure, instrumentation, proven track record of in-service performance and durability, and so on. CULTURAL CHALLENGES In corrosion research and the application of its results, the engineering practitioners are often separated from the researchers by background, philosophy, interest, and educational level. Anecdotal examples of these differences are evident in the major national conferences held several times each year. Many of the technical symposia at the annual conference of the National Association of Corrosion Engineers (NACE) are devoted to corrosion protection and are attended by individuals who are not directly connected with research activities. Also included in the conference, however, is a research-in-progress symposium at which the latest research results are presented; the audience for these sessions generally numbers fewer than 100, and many of these are presenters or individuals at the cutting edge of research. Few in that audience are individuals who practice corrosion mitigation. The Electrochemical Society (ECS) has an active corrosion division that holds biannual research symposia devoted to both aqueous and elevated temperature corrosion processes. However, few corrosion mitigation practitioners attend the ECS meetings. The separation of researchers and practitioners is apparent at the many topical research symposia held worldwide. However, it should be noted that a 1-day symposium on a focused topic, the Research Technical Symposium, is held each year at the NACE international annual conference in an effort to bring together researchers and practitioners. The topic is intentionally a relatively mature subject. The presentations are by invitation only and are longer than usual, allowing considerable detail of the applications to be presented. These symposia typically attract hundreds of attendees. Unfortunately, one such symposium per year allows for only limited coverage of the technical topics. For example, research data in the elevated temperature corrosion area are presented at national materials meetings, such as the annual Materials Science and Technology meeting. But the attendance at corrosion-specific sessions within this large conference is generally limited. Cutting-edge research results are also communicated via publication in scientific journals. However, these journals are either not readily accessible to or not widely read by many corrosion mitigation practitioners. Consequently, cross-
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Research Opportunities in Corrosion Science and Engineering fertilization between researchers pursuing fundamental studies and those who can apply the results of research is limited. On the other hand, many university faculty members specializing in corrosion have an interest in practical applications of corrosion science and are available to industry as consultants. Problem solving by corrosion experts is also offered by several consulting and contract R&D firms specializing in corrosion. Nonetheless, many engineering practitioners are unaware of available solutions and resources, let alone advances in research, that might impact their business. A further complication is that corrosion is, by definition, an interdisciplinary subject.1 Yet only a minimal effort is made to exchange the results of corrosion research with researchers in other fields. Thus, in the present cultural environment, the results of fundamental corrosion research are nominally exchanged between experts in their own fields. There is at present no effective national or international venue for the dissemination of corrosion research results to researchers or to practitioners who are outside the currently linked communities that are organized within the technical societies. There are several consequences of the current environment. Certainly not all corrosion research is immediately relevant to corrosion mitigation, and thus practitioners would find little interest in dissemination of in-depth results.2 Corrosion scientists must make a special effort to learn about developments and new instrumentation techniques that are outside the corrosion field. This process is dependent on individual professional contacts and relationships that often occur within a given institution, by serendipity, or by proactively seeking out particular research data in a related scientific discipline. Currently for corrosion-related research there are no counterparts to the National Science Foundation (NSF) Engineering Research Centers to focus large multidisciplinary teams (e.g., teams that include materials scientists, chemists, physicists, systems analysts, computer modeling specialists, various engineering disciplines, etc.) on tackling hard corrosion problems. Large-scale collaboration has occurred in only a few nationally significant projects, such as nuclear reactor design and permanent storage of radioactive materials, in which concern about corrosion motivated a portion of the research but was not the dominant driver for the program. As noted, another consequence of the current environment is poor dissemination of information from researchers to practitioners. Thus many corrosion 1 See, for example, P.A. Sorensen, S. Kiil, K. Dam-Johansen, and C.E. Weinell, Anticorrosive coatings: a review, Journal of Coatings Technology and Research 6(2):135-176, 2009. 2 For example, fundamental studies of the specific mechanisms of corrosion processes or the structure and composition of passive films would likely not interest a practicing engineer facing corrosion problems. However, these studies are invaluable because they lead to understanding that could eventually have a positive impact on corrosion mitigation through the development of more corrosion-resistant alloys, new environmentally friendly inhibitors, and novel coatings.
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Research Opportunities in Corrosion Science and Engineering problems that, taken together, cause a large consumption of societal resources could be mitigated by the application of known and accepted corrosion prevention principles, best practices, and materials. The gap arises when engineers who deal with new designs fail to appropriately anticipate corrosion problems, and when those who must address corrosion problems in the field do not apply the best-known solutions. Based on the time periods typically required for developing and implementing new materials for aerospace applications,3 it is expected that 10 to 20 years might be needed for incorporating new corrosion mitigation technology into mainstream practice. This long transition period can be significantly shortened through the use of several proactive information dissemination strategies. DISSEMINATION STRATEGIES FOR CORROSION ENGINEERING The technical community would benefit from improved dissemination of corrosion research. Studies that focus on corrosion mitigation, such as those on new environmentally friendly corrosion inhibitors and protective coating systems and the behavior of new corrosion-resistant alloys, can often be applied directly to solving current problems. However, many who need help solving fundamental problems do not need the results of new research and can instead be assisted by exposure to well-established corrosion engineering practices. Thus there are two important aspects of dissemination of corrosion research results: (1) application of accepted corrosion prevention principles and best practices and (2) transfer of specific corrosion R&D accomplishments into practice. Strategies for accomplishing these goals are summarized in Table 4.1, and each strategy is discussed below. Education Many corrosion problems could be solved by the application of accepted corrosion prevention principles and known best practices. However, many engineers involved in design activities lack understanding of the issues associated with corrosion. The NRC report Assessment of Corrosion Education (ACE; see Box 4.1)4 describes the current status of corrosion education. Corrosion receives very little attention in the curricula of typical engineering programs. Often, engineering 3 National Research Council, Accelerating Technology Transition: Bridging the Valley of Death for Materials and Processes in Defense Systems, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2004, p. 16. 4 National Research Council, Assessment of Corrosion Education, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2009.
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Research Opportunities in Corrosion Science and Engineering TABLE 4.1 Dissemination Strategies Field Principles and Best Practices Transfer of Recent R&D Accomplishments into Practice Engineering education Continuing education Engineering design tools—models and databases New products Specifications and standards Technology transfer service BOX 4.1 Some Recommendations from the NRC Report Assessment of Corrosion Education1 Develop a foundational corps of corrosion faculty by supporting research and development in the field of corrosion science and engineering. Provide incentives to the universities, such as endowed chairs in corrosion control, to promote the hiring of corrosion experts. Enable the setting and periodic updating of learning outcomes for corrosion courses by publishing and publicizing skills sets for corrosion technologists and engineers. Fund the development of educational modules for corrosion courses. Support faculty development, offering corrosion-related internships and sabbatical opportunities, and supporting cooperative programs between universities and government laboratories to facilitate the graduate student research experience. Increase support for the participation of their engineers in short courses when specific skills shortages are identified and are required to be filled in the short term. 1 National Research Council, Assessment of Corrosion Education, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2009, pp. 5-6. students’ exposure to corrosion issues is limited to a single lecture in corrosion in an introductory materials science class. In many cases, lectures on corrosion are not offered because of time constraints and the demands of other topics. At many universities, even students majoring in materials science and engineering (MSE), who should be trained in materials selection, receive limited exposure to the topic of corrosion because only a fraction of MSE departments have even a single course
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Research Opportunities in Corrosion Science and Engineering on corrosion in their curriculum. According to the ACE report, it is generally recognized by the MSE community that corrosion is an important topic, but the curriculum is overcrowded by other topics, and faculty capable of teaching corrosion courses are scarce, even in MSE departments. The ACE report also describes how corrosion problems are handled in industry. In some industries with critical corrosion issues and focused activities, such as the automotive industry, new engineers are given on-the-job training by senior colleagues with experience in the field. To preserve corporate knowledge, background in and understanding of corrosion issues are transferred to new employees, but only slowly. This is an inefficient means of training and can lead to problems when there is a paradigm shift whereby corporate historical knowledge does not apply to new problems, and the depth of understanding of the staff is limited. Many corporations have no expertise in corrosion and seek out experts and consultants when problems arise. The problem is exacerbated in small companies that have limited engineering staffs. In many cases there is little awareness or understanding of corrosion problems, even though corrosion is a cross-cutting issue present in many industries. The ACE report makes a strong case for improving all engineers’ background in corrosion, and in particular that of materials engineers. It is critical for design engineers to have a sufficient background to “know what they don’t know” and to know when to seek assistance. The ACE report also recommends that MSE students, as future experts in materials selection, should know more about corrosion than what is provided in most curricula today. Corrosion research is an important part of this educational process in training faculty who are qualified to teach the subject. Faculty members must have strong research programs to survive in the academic world. Corrosion research programs in universities also train graduate students who will develop into corrosion experts, staffing companies needing or providing corrosion expertise. Formal corrosion education, supported by viable research activities, is critical for limiting or mitigating corrosion damage. The ACE report concluded that “the current level and effectiveness of engineering curricula in corrosion, offered through university-based and on-the-job training, will not provide a sufficient framework to allow the country to reduce substantially the national cost of corrosion or to increase the safety and reliability of the national infrastructure” (p. 5). A series of recommendations to educational, government, and community institutions interested in increasing corrosion education and awareness was presented in the ACE report. The committee strongly endorses these recommendations, some of which are repeated, in whole or in part, in Box 4.1. Two longer-term strategic recommendations were included in the ACE report: (1) institute an education and research council to plan for corrosion education and to identify resources to execute the plan and (2) encourage the corrosion research community to reach out to the larger science and engineering community and communicate the challenges it faces.
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Research Opportunities in Corrosion Science and Engineering It is critical for the corrosion community to motivate outstanding students and professionals to enter the field. ASM International has been very successful in attracting students to the field of materials science through summer camps for high school students and teachers. NACE International has joined in this effort and has developed a module on corrosion in each camp. The module gives every high-school teacher participating in the camp a box containing information and materials for corrosion experiments. These activities are strongly endorsed and should be expanded. A dissemination venue dedicated to linking fundamental research results to specific/applied corrosion mitigation technologies would help to bridge the gaps between cutting-edge research and engineering practices for controlling corrosion. A model program for attracting students to an underrepresented engineering discipline is the University Network of Excellence in Nuclear Engineering (UNENE) in Canada. The main purpose of UNENE is to ensure a sustainable supply of qualified nuclear engineers and scientists to meet the current and future needs of the Canadian nuclear industry through university education, university-based training and by encouraging young people to choose nuclear careers.5 In addition to this effort, the Canadian Nuclear Association focuses on high school curricula and public outreach. NACE International has expressed some of the same goals, but with less emphasis on public information. Continuing Education Given that most engineering students receive so little education in corrosion, it is critical that practicing engineers be able to gain needed knowledge in that area. A number of short courses exist that facilitate on-the-job training of engineers in corrosion. Appendix D in the ACE report lists some of these. However, such programs serve only a small fraction of the engineers who need such education and information. Continuing education of engineers in corrosion and other critical technologies should be encouraged by industry and professional societies. Engineering Design Tools and Products An effective means of incorporating corrosion knowledge is through validated corrosion modeling tools and associated databases. The ideal models would be based on fundamental laws and first principles since analyses could be performed over a wide range of conditions with some degree of confidence. But corrosion mechanisms are not yet understood well enough for purely first-principles mechanistic models to be useful, although this is a goal for future research. 5 See http://www.unene.ca.
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Research Opportunities in Corrosion Science and Engineering Heuristic, empirical models can be useful for disseminating the results of corrosion research, as long as the applications are within the range of the data and boundary conditions that the model is built on. These approaches include expert systems6 and data mining modeling (including semi-empirical, statistical, pattern recognition, neural networks, etc.) models. Models with simplified geometries embodying descriptions of corrosion phenomena based on first principles, as well as existing measured and calculated data for corrosion parameters, are commercially available.7 Some codes incorporate mixed potential models that are used for the prediction of corrosion potential and current density. Fundamental concepts are used but calibration with experimental data is frequently required in order to estimate values for poorly known model parameters. A considerable amount of corrosion data exists for different metals and materials in a range of environments. However, in many cases, these data are not readily accessible as they are often contained in highly technical and obscure academic treatises or proprietary databases. If all of the available corrosion data were accessible, it would be a tremendous asset to the field. A notable effort in this regard is ASSET (Alloy Selection System for Elevated Temperatures),8 an information system that combines an assessed experimental database and thermochemical computations for a given alloy and high-temperature gaseous environment to predict the extent of corrosion as a function of time and temperature (up to 1150°C in some cases). This tool can be used not only for alloy selection and lifetime prediction, but also for defining the type and fidelity of corrosion data needed for its effective utilization. In molecular biology, databases, algorithms, and computational and statistical techniques have been developed to handle the large amounts of data generated in projects such as characterization of the human genome. A similar widespread effort in corrosion science and technology is now possible and would revolutionize the field. An open consortium of institutions and companies interested in corrosion engineering could be set up to collect corrosion data in a data warehouse, make 6 The 1987 NRC report Agenda for Advancing Electrochemical Corrosion Science and Technology focused on the development of expert systems to provide solutions to organizations with corrosion problems. The presumption was that improvements in computer technology would allow the capture of knowledge in a way that would make it easily accessible to users (National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1987). 7 OLI Systems, HSC Chemistry, and numerous noncommercial geochemical codes incorporate complete speciation using thermodynamic databases and advanced solution chemistry fundamentals to generate stability diagrams. 8 R.C. John, A.D. Pelton, A.L. Young, W.T. Thomnson, and I.G. Wright, The ASSET Project—A corrosion engineering information system for metals in hot corrosive gases, pp. 398-430 in Lifetime Modelling of High Temperature Corrosion Processes (M. Schütze, W.J. Quadakkers, and J.R. Nicholls, eds.), European Federation of Corrosion Publications Number 34, Maney Publishing, London, 2001.
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Research Opportunities in Corrosion Science and Engineering the data easily accessible, maintain appropriate database tools, and help members to interrogate the data. Such a consortium could be organized as or under a government entity or a technical society. Consortium members would pay an annual fee—a flat fee, or one based on a set of member characteristics, such as usage, size of the member institution, and so on—to the consortium manager, Membership would not be exclusive. NIST played a similar role in collecting phase diagram data when casting modeling and simulation tools were being developed 20 years ago. New Products The development of new corrosion-resistant materials, corrosion inhibitors, corrosion protection coatings, and corrosion mitigation technologies is important to reducing the costs of corrosion. However, the transition of research into products requires that the gap between researchers and practitioners be bridged. Programs designed to bridge this gap include the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program,9 which are administered separately at all federal agencies that fund R&D activities. A key goals is to increase the commercialization of technology developed through federal R&D funding. SBIR and STTR projects have three phases: feasibility (6-12 months), prototype development (2 years), and commercialization (funded outside the program). These programs could transition new corrosion technology into a viable end product or service such as improved corrosion-monitoring capabilities or new protective coatings. At least once a year, each federal agency publishes a list of SBIR and STTR topics for which proposals can be submitted. In line with the recommendation in Chapter 2 concerning an OSTP-led multiagency committee on environmental degradation of materials, departments and agencies could collaborate in defining these topics and could share the results. However, the committee points out that the time frame of SBIR and STTR projects is not conducive to conducting fundamental research or to supporting students in a university graduate program. To address gaps in knowledge, fundamental research should first be conducted in a separate research program that provides for appropriate staffing of researchers to work on projects, followed by a SBIR or STTR that can commercialize the results. Paired in this way, an individual-investigator-led program or Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative team effort followed by an SBIR or STTR might be a good way to ensure a transition from research into a product useful for corrosion-related applications. 9 STTR is similar in structure to SBIR, but it funds cooperative R&D projects involving small business and research institutions such as universities, federally funded R&D centers, and nonprofit research institutions.
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Research Opportunities in Corrosion Science and Engineering Corrosion-Related Specifications and Standards Specifications and standards have long been an excellent means of disseminating best practices. A key driving force for specifications and standards typically has been the establishment of a common baseline for best practices, as well as alignment of the supporting industrial infrastructure to minimal requirements. Thus standardization presents an opportunity to promulgate the latest validated corrosion best practices across an industrial application area. As described in Box 4.2, standards related to offshore gas and petroleum pipelines exemplify the use of this approach and provide a template for a proactive strategy: Establish requirements, beginning at a high-level. Assess current capability and develop a road map to achieve the required capability, taking into account the latest technological advancements. Develop research ideas and disseminate results. BOX 4.2 Example—Offshore Pipeline Standards Oil and gas field exploration and development continue to move farther offshore and into deeper water, and farther north into arctic environments. In the Gulf of Mexico, exploration wells are being drilled at depths greater than 10,000 feet, and production systems are being installed below 7,000 feet. As reserves are discovered and deepwater facilities installed, pipeline networks for gas and oil transport must follow, overcoming new challenges posed by the need for state-of-the art riser systems; longer pipeline distances underwater; and difficult corrosive conditions. The business climate is demanding innovative pipeline design, installation, and repair options; reductions in the weight and cost of risers systems; and satisfaction of high expectations that virtually no oil will be lost to spillage in the environment. In response to growing concern about the integrity of pipelines in offshore waters, including the susceptibility of pipelines to corrosion, the Minerals and Management Service (MMS) in the Department of the Interior is developing a methodology for assessing the safety of existing pipelines and for designing and installing future pipeline systems. The end result will be new and revised pipeline standards and guidelines. To accomplish this, MMS is pursuing a multipronged approach that includes (1) involving pipeline standards writing organizations such as the American Petroleum Institute, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and the International Organization for Standardization in forums, workshops, meetings, and selective projects to gain insight and provide direction for existing and new standards; (2) developing research ideas and disseminating the results through pipeline R&D forums and workshops; and (3) encouraging greater communication with industry and the public to gain perspectives that can aid industry-wide R&D efforts, as well as educating the public and other offshore partners about MMS activities and how technology is used to advance safety and environmental safeguards.
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Research Opportunities in Corrosion Science and Engineering Involve appropriate standards-writing organizations to draft new and updated standards. Participate in relevant international standards activities. Communicate strategy and objectives with industry, users and the supporting industrial base, and the public Technology Transfer Organizations Successful results of corrosion research usually find their way into applications, albeit too often at a glacial pace, a decade or more. The reasons for this are many. Rarely are the exact conditions under which research was conducted duplicated by a particular new application, and so some judgment is needed, and perhaps additional validation. Smaller companies do not typically have the resources to stay current on developments, and the time need to develop supporting infrastructure, such as suppliers gearing up to provide new products, can be lengthy, especially if the market is slow to develop. Finally, it may not be obvious that the benefit of a new technology is worth the added cost once the entire effort to qualify and incorporate the new technology is fully priced. The federal government funds applied corrosion research for the public benefit and could increase the benefit by taking a proactive role in promoting dissemination of the research results. Two examples of a proactive approach that supports corrosion research and assists in the transfer of technology from research to practice are the Strategic Environmental Research & Development Program (SERDP)10 and the related Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP).11 These programs focus on environmental issues, but they also fund related corrosion work, transferring technology from research to implementation in manufacturing, on the shop floor, or in the government’s maintenance depot. Their efforts now focus on transferring technology developed with federal funding to applications in the federal agencies. The approach would be generally applicable, however, even if the end user were outside the federal government. The two programs: Work with the first implementer in a real-world environment regarding the costs of testing and demonstration, which includes performance and cost analyses. 10 SERDP is DOD’s environmental science and technology program, planned and executed in full partnership with the DOE and EPA with participation by numerous other federal and nonfederal organizations. SERDP focuses on cross-service requirements and pursues high-risk/high-payoff solutions to the DOD’s most intractable environmental problems. 11 ESTCP is a DOD program that promotes innovative, cost-effective environmental technologies through demonstration and validation at DOD sites.
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Research Opportunities in Corrosion Science and Engineering Identify the application space for the new technology, together with benefits and limitations. Serve as consultants to other users who have an interest in evaluating the new technology. This approach is similar to that taken by NIST’s Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), which focuses on increasing the competitiveness of the U.S. industrial base by bridging the productivity gap for manufacturers, identifying opportunities for growth, and encouraging technology deployment.12 MEP currently facilitates advanced technology adoption for businesses of any size and helps to disseminate technology from universities and federal laboratories to companies. It also attempts to identify small company technology needs and bring those needs to the research community. MEP’s role could be expanded to include dissemination of corrosion best practices. In any event, a MEP-like program in the area of corrosion would improve the transfer of knowledge in corrosion to those that need solutions. It is clear that each agency and department should accept as part of its responsibility not only the funding of corrosion research, but also its dissemination. 12 MEP is a collection of 59 centers in all 50 states with about 1,600 (nonfederal) employees. It is managed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and funded one-third by NIST and two-thirds by state funds, regional partners, and other sources of revenue.