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Research Opportunities in Corrosion Science and Engineering 5 A National Strategy for Corrosion Research Corrosion is a natural phenomenon affecting all materials in structures important to our economic and national security and to our well-being as a whole. Research on many aspects of this phenomenon over the past century has led to the development of mitigation techniques that help to enable our current standard of living. Better materials (slower corrosion rates), better protection (coatings), increased awareness (detection of the early stages of corrosion), and better organized and executed plans for combating corrosion or replacing corroded parts have led to dramatic improvements that would not have been possible without such research. Chapter 1 describes a number of successful technology advances made possible by corrosion research. Particularly notable is the impact on the nation’s energy independence afforded by advances in corrosion research needed for the successful deployment of nuclear energy. Endemic in both boiling water and pressurized water reactors in the 1970s and early 1980s, stress corrosion cracking, threatened to derail the entire nuclear energy program. But corrosion research performed at universities and by industry and government laboratories resulted in the development of new alloys and the control of chemomechanical parameters, effectively allowing the current fleet of reactors to greatly exceed their expected useful lifetimes. Nevertheless, further research is clearly called for as new designs push the envelope and expose materials to ever harsher environments. As the nation continues to move toward the use of advanced nuclear, wind, solar, geothermal, and still-to-be-identified and increasingly green technologies, the limitations of current materials will become increasingly apparent. The need for new materials, protection of current materials
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Research Opportunities in Corrosion Science and Engineering 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.
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Research Opportunities in Corrosion Science and Engineering FEDERAL AGENCY CORROSION ROAD MAPS Conclusion: Although much has been learned about the causes of corrosion and many strategies for mitigation exist and have been implemented, much important corrosion R&D remains to be done. Increased demands on systems to address societal needs will require new materials capable of withstanding increasingly aggressive environments. A strong link between fundamental research at the atomistic level and at the engineering level still needs to be established in order to advance new innovative strategies in mitigating the ravages of corrosion damage on the nation’s infrastructure. Research designed to address these national needs will require significant investment by several federal agencies and departments in collaboration with universities, national laboratories, and private sector research organizations. The committee concluded that these research demands can be conveniently expressed in the following four grand challenges for corrosion: Development of cost-effective, environment-friendly, corrosion-resistant materials and coatings; High-fidelity modeling for the prediction of corrosion degradation in actual service environments; Accelerated corrosion testing under controlled laboratory conditions that quantitatively correlates to long-term behavior observed in service environments; and Accurate forecasting of remaining service time until major repair, replacement, or overhaul becomes necessary—i.e., corrosion prognosis. Addressing these challenges will demand an integrated body of scientific and engineering research targeted at specific agency needs but coordinated to minimize duplication of effort and to take advantage of synergism. While government has a major role in supporting corrosion science, the ultimate goal must be the development of corrosion engineering practices that will be introduced into military and civilian design and maintenance of critical infrastructure. In establishing priorities for their research road maps, agencies and departments should therefore develop processes for cooperating with organized representatives of those entities relevant to their missions. Recommendation: Using as guidance the four corrosion grand challenges developed by the committee, each federal agency or department should identify the areas of corrosion research pertinent to its mission and draw up a road map for fulfilling its responsibilities. In doing so, each should take a cross-organizational approach to planning and execution and should include input from industrial sectors that have experience in handling corrosion.
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Research Opportunities in Corrosion Science and Engineering In assessing needs related to corrosion, it will be important to engage other major branches of science and technology. Modern instrumentation facilities have been developed by the physics, chemistry, and mathematical sciences communities that can be brought to bear on corrosion science and engineering problems. Significant advances in the science and engineering of environmental degradation of engineered systems will require concerted cross-disciplinary collaboration. APPLICATION-FOCUSED CORROSION RESEARCH Conclusion: Corrosion studies in single-investigator laboratories have long been the norm in this field. A few of these have led to important, multi-investigator, multi-institutional involvement and large-scale testing and deployment of new mitigation techniques. However, many of the new opportunities in corrosion research are identified at the interfaces between the traditional workers in this field and workers in measurement and information science. New modes of collaboration are required, and federal agencies should respond accordingly with opportunities for such research. Links between scientific understanding and engineering applications should be encouraged through creative collaborative programs rather than simply expected to happen as information diffuses from the laboratories of individual scientists to the engineering research environs of their counterparts down the hall or across the globe. Progress in attacking the corrosion grand challenges will require a balanced effort by traditional single-investigator programs and multi-investigator, cross-disciplinary programs to build collaborative systems, including advanced measurement techniques and modern analytical and computational tools. Recommendation: Funding agencies should design programs to stimulate single-investigator and collaborative team efforts and underwrite the costs of realistic test laboratories open to the corrosion community and its collaborators, including industry researchers. These programs should address the four corrosion grand challenges identified by the committee; provide a balance between single- and multi-investigator groups; develop collaborative interactions between corrosion, measurement, and computational experts; and be driven by both science and engineering applications.
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Research Opportunities in Corrosion Science and Engineering ESTABLISHMENT OF INDUSTRY, UNIVERSITY, AND NATIONAL LABORATORY CONSORTIA Conclusion: Corrosion-resistant alloys began to be developed in the last half century by metals producers and benefited from a balance of mechanical and physical properties. The development of these alloys has had huge economic, environmental, and safety impacts. Many of the success stories highlighted in Chapter 1 of this report were the result of industrial developments responding to well-understood needs. However, the leadership of corrosion materials research has declined in recent years owing to the high cost of sustaining such an effort, the uncertainty of finding a successful product application as materials and product sophistication increase, and the move to offshore development and production of engineering materials. The idea of a materials enterprise inventing an improved material and then working with end users to qualify it and scale it up (technology “push”) has fallen by the wayside owing to the lengthy development time, high cost, and application risk for early adopters. A new development model, known as the technology “pull” paradigm, requires the engagement of multiple stakeholders, including researchers, applications engineers, design engineers, and material producers. Their efforts can reach fruition much faster if the technology needs are known in advance, allowing the research to focus on the critical issues. The other stakeholders are those who design the application for the new material and those who produce it in volume. This development model is undertaken by a consortium that engages interested, knowledgeable participants from conception to implementation. One such successful approach is that of the Semiconductor Research Corporation. In this collaborative model, large semiconductor companies have joined to fund university efforts that provide research to all of the participants and a dedicated and well-educated workforce for the industries. Federal departments such as the DOD and the DOE currently support materials R&D in areas aligned with core mission requirements. Increasingly, these developments involve industry early in the planning process since materials developments are targeted for specific end applications. Recommendation: Federal agencies should facilitate the formation of consortia of industry, university, and as appropriate, government laboratories chartered to address significant areas of opportunity in corrosion science and engineering. In consonance with best practices, industry should be involved at the earliest practical time in the structuring of these programs so that technology pull can realistically shorten the time between development and reduction to practice. Also, early involvement by industries will facilitate their active participation as consortium members.
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Research Opportunities in Corrosion Science and Engineering DISSEMINATION OF THE OUTCOMES OF CORROSION RESEARCH Conclusion: Many of the present impacts of corrosion could be reduced through incorporation of current best practices derived from years of research and development. The path from sources of new knowledge flows through the scientific literature, professional society meetings, standards adoption, education in formal and informal settings, and, eventually, to the ultimate users of that knowledge, the designers and maintainers of systems. Large companies staffed with a broad range of engineering talent are usually plugged in to this information transfer system. Small companies, typically lacking breadth in engineering talent, are often slower to become aware of and respond to new information. While this process is more or less effective, it is not optimal or even very efficient. In many agencies, the process of dissemination is actively pursued, whereas in others dissemination is not addressed at all. New mechanisms for disseminating current knowledge and new results to small and mid-size companies can bring about considerable savings. There are corrosion data for different metals and materials in a range of environments. In many cases, however, these data are not readily accessible because they are contained in obscure, highly technical academic treatises or proprietary databases. If all of the available corrosion data were accessible, it would be a tremendous asset to the field.1 In molecular biology, databases, algorithms, and computational and statistical techniques have been developed to handle large amounts of data from different biological areas such as the human genome. A similar widespread effort in corrosion science and engineering is now possible and would revolutionize the field. Recommendation: Each agency and department should assume responsibility not only for supporting corrosion research but also for disseminating the results of the research. Dissemination of the results of corrosion research should reach beyond an agency itself and connect with, for example, other agencies that have an interest in corrosion mitigation but lack the means to conduct their own effort in corrosion research. Given that a great deal of data on corrosion already exist and that more such data are being generated every year but are not widely available to interested researchers and corrosion specialists, an open central repository for collecting corrosion data and metadata is recommended. This central repository would make 1 For example, Alloy Selection System for Elevated Temperature (ASSET) is an information system that combines an assessed experimental database and thermochemical computations for a given alloy and high-temperature gaseous environment to predict corrosion as a function of time and temperature.
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Research Opportunities in Corrosion Science and Engineering the data easily accessible and maintain it using appropriate database tools. It could be supported by institutions and companies interested in corrosion science and engineering, organized under a government entity or a technical society. Such data warehousing is currently being pursued in Europe and should serve as a model for a U.S. system. NATIONAL MULTIAGENCY COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION Conclusion: Corrosion affects all aspects of society, in particular, the areas where the federal government is investing: education, infrastructure, health, public safety, energy, the environment, and national security. Inevitably a thermodynamically driven process, corrosion can, however, be mitigated substantially by retarding the rate of degradation. The government has several roles to play: as purchaser of equipment and facilities, as sponsor of scientific research and engineering developmental work, and as a source of best-practice information for use by state and local governments, industries, and small businesses. Although each agency and department must play a role consistent with its mission, isolated government programs tend to lead to duplicative efforts and reduce opportunities for synergistic progress. To address such issues and to emphasize that the proposed national strategy is intended to be a multiagency effort, the committee calls for cross-agency oversight. Recommendation: The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) should acknowledge the adverse impact of corrosion on the nation and launch a multi-agency effort for high-risk, high-reward research to mitigate this impact. OSTP should set up a multiagency committee on the environmental degradation of materials. It should begin by documenting current federal expenditures on corrosion research and mitigation and then encouraging multiagency attention to issues of research, mitigation, and information dissemination. Collaboration among departments and agencies should be strengthened by collaboration with state governments, professional societies, industry consortia, and standards-making bodies. SUMMARY The overarching vision of the committee is that corrosion research will be advanced further and faster when corrosion behavior is included along with other materials properties in modern science and engineering practice, as exemplified by programs such as Integrated Computational Materials Science and Engineering
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Research Opportunities in Corrosion Science and Engineering and Prognosis, i.e., when corrosion issues are addressed proactively rather than reactively. The committee believes that this report, with its conclusions and recommendations, will provide a useful framework for structuring corrosion research opportunities and that it will occasion a renewed critical interest in corrosion research by federal agencies, unquestionably resulting in significant benefit for the nation once the results of the research have been implemented. Revitalization of the governmental and industrial corrosion research infrastructures will play an important role in reducing the costs of corrosion and better controlling it.