from deterioration, and prediction of lifetimes for both new and current materials are important national priorities. In addition, raw materials from emerging nations will be increasingly in demand, placing severe limitations on their availability.
The attendant needs can be met through greater understanding and improved tools for prediction, sensing, and mitigation of inevitable corrosion, but only if we apply and advance our current knowledge of science and engineering.
The cost of corrosion to the United States should be incentive enough for serious government attention to the issue. Another pressing issue is the need for new information in support of initiatives already identified by the federal government and those still in the planning stage. For example, within the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) purview are a broad array of materials challenges associated with the transition from a carbon-based economy to one based on alternative forms of energy, each of which calls for materials that can withstand exposure to complex new environments. It is unlikely, however, that current DOE plans for corrosion identification and mitigation can on their own provide solutions for ensuring the longevity of the nation’s emerging energy technologies.
Current issues and opportunities related to corrosion demand increased efforts by government agencies in addition to DOE, but there is generally no evidence that future requirements for advanced technologies and conservation of national resources are seriously understood. Many government research programs receive less financial support than they once did. Perhaps only in the Department of Defense (DOD) and NASA is it possible to readily find comprehensive, centrally located and monitored plans for addressing corrosion-related challenges. Although the program in DOD is relatively new and its full impact on the several diverse elements of DOD is not yet evident, it nevertheless might serve as a model for what should be sought in other large government organizations. Even more desirable would be government-wide recognition of the scope of the corrosion problem and the encouragement of urgently needed organizational structures and communication networks to optimize an overall federal effort to address it.
The use of current advanced analytical tools, the rapid development of new tools and techniques, expanded computational capabilities and strategies, and, increasingly, systems-oriented approaches for development of materials can open new ways to solve previously intractable corrosion problems. The results of materials modeling and simulation R&D activities can be applied to mitigate corrosion challenges. Such efforts will greatly shorten the time required to successfully address corrosion in advanced materials systems for critical applications, eliminate long years of testing in less demanding service applications, enable new applications in severe environments that are of great interest to society, and encourage innovative approaches to renewing and extending the life of critical, costly elements of the nation’s infrastructure.