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Corrosion management

Corrosion is a frequently under-estimated issue in every industry where water comes into contact with metal. In general, this means offshore structures, the port, maritime, process and steel structure industries as well as public infrastructure and water treatment plants. However, small-scale components such as machine parts, cutting equipment, heat exchangers, etc. can also suffer from corrosion. The costs related to corrosion have a major impact on the economy as a whole.

Innovation plays a vital role in corrosion management, given that one-third of corrosion-related costs could be avoided. Sirris offers advice to companies on both the prevention and monitoring of corrosion. Adapted design, appropriate selection of materials and coatings, and a data-driven risk-based inspection system can reduce costs for many companies, as well as safety risks and loss of reputation. Using sensors to monitor both environment and degradation fits perfectly within a smart asset management strategy. Only by having access to the right information, can correct decisions be taken both at technical and management level. 
Sirris is involved in various initiatives and research projects in this field. 

Sirris, a partner of CorrosieLABS

The area along the Belgium-Netherlands border has one of the largest process industry clusters in the world, with a relatively high number of aging systems, making corrosion control a high priority. To maintain the region’s current standing in the process industry, it is of paramount importance to ensure the machines are in optimum condition and arefault-free, safe and operate with minimal environmental impact. Innovations in corrosion management are essential to achieve this objective. The aim of CorrosieLABS is to support the industry in the border region with infrastructure for development and testing of corrosion management strategies.

Combined knowledge and infrastructure

In conjunction with industry in the region, Ki<|MPi, Scalda, the Antwerp Martine Academy and Sirris have joined forces to establish a lab, known as CorrosieLABS. This lab provides the infrastructure to perform practical research on corrosion phenomena and to develop, test and demonstrate innovations in the field of prevention, detection and repair of corrosion. Sirris is expanding its existing infrastructure to conduct research on a laboratory scale. Simultaneously, a lager infrastructure is built up in Terneuzen for development and testing of corrosion management innovations in a more relevant industrial environment. In close collaboration with Zeeland Refinery, Kaefer and Total, a specific set-up is developed for a deeper understanding of the “corrosion under insulation” (CUI) phenomenon and to develop and validate Industry 4.0 solutions such as corrosion and moisture monitoring.

Also under development is the basic curriculum for corrosion and insulation technicians, both for professionals and students. Once the project is finished, the infrastructure will remain available for the industry, research and educational institutions. 

The “Praktijklab Corrosie en Isolatie” project is funded by the Dutch-Flemish Interreg V programme, a cross-border cooperation organised with the financial support of the European Regional Development Fund.

Smart system to tackle the problem of corrosion 

Experts assume that up to one-third of all the costs related to corrosion prevention and maintenance can be avoided by using a smarter and more efficient system to address the issue of corrosion. Setting up such a smart corrosion management system is the objective of the SOCORRO Interreg project (Seaking Out CORROsion) which started in 2020. Sirris is one of the main partners. The project aims to offer companies an independent tool to assess the accumulated corrosion risk. Companies are thus made aware of the issue of corrosion and can implement targeted preventive and maintenance measures.

Decision support system

A fast, in-situ sensor system is currently being developed to monitor a series of water parameters. Artificial intelligence (AI) will be used to convert the water parameters measured into corrosion risk values. The sensor system is a combination of different sensors to monitor water quality and corrosion rates. The latter are used to build a knowledge base on corrosion phenomena in various environments and to train the AI algorithm. However, these corrosion sensors only provide local information and can only give an estimate the actual, local corrosion rate, which may lead to incorrect decisions being taken. The ability to estimate the corrosiveness of the environment through water quality data is therefore a breakthrough innovation, as this provides the expected level of impact on complete assets. The measurement and management system developed will display the accumulated corrosion risk over time, based on a colour code to be built into the decision support system.

The complete set-up is due to be implemented in 11 industrial use cases this summer and autumn (2021), and will be demonstrated at the sites of early adopters operating in wastewater management, process water, port infrastructure, offshore foundations and vessel ballast tanks. This will ensure the industrial applicability of the SOCORRO system is assessed and optimised and the expected economic advantages are captured.

Sirris leads the Collaborative Innovation Group on corrosion monitoring

As a partner in the Ocean Power Innovation Network (OPIN), Sirris leads the Collaborative Innovation Group (CIG) on corrosion monitoring, started in autumn 2020. It is generally accepted that corrosion monitoring has significant potential for Offshore Renewable Energy systems. This is because the systems and structures that are exposed to corrosive conditions are usually far from the coast and are unmanned. This makes manual inspections and repairs extremely expensive. In direct contrast to other industries such as the processing industry, where the business case for monitoring of Corrosion Under Insulation (CUI) is clear, the Offshore Energy business case is quite different.

On the one hand, this is due to the technical limitations in the field of sensor technology; on the other due to currently limited understanding of corrosion phenomena and their impact. This makes it difficult to set the corrosion monitoring objectives for Offshore Renewable Energy accurately, as well as to draw up a clear corrosion monitoring strategy. The business case for corrosion monitoring can only be calculated once the objectives of monitoring and the reference scenario (current corrosion-related costs) are clearly defined. Once the business case is ready, the technical development in the field of sensor technology will undoubtedly follow close behind.

These conclusions were drawn by the CIG, based on the contributions of 15 industrial and academic partners, supplemented by an online survey and a study on sensor technology and data interpretation. A workshop has will be organised within the CIG to determine what steps can be taken to realise the potential of corrosion monitoring for offshore renewable energy, possibly within a joint research project.

Research in corrosion monitoring for offshore foundations

Fatigue and corrosion are critical failure causes of offshore wind support structures. The low accessibility and high inspection/repair costs of large offshore structures is motivating an optimized inspection and maintenance plan, based on continuous assessment of the structure’s reliability. Due to the time-variant uncertainties associated with corrosion and deterioration mechanisms, a more advanced lifecycle reliability assessment is necessary to assess the structural safety and to support decision making. 

The project aims to reduce the many uncertainties by combining inspection and monitoring data (about cracks and corrosion), the measurement and estimation of loads (wind, wave) and improved material models. Finally a probabilistic model for the structural reliability will be constructed. The project is a collaboration between Ghent University, VUB, University of Liège and Sirris. Sirris focuses on how to link the corrosion monitoring data to models for pitting corrosion.

MAXWind is a federal research project, supported by the FPS Economy Energy Transition Fund (ETF)