Understanding and avoiding corrosion
While you are reading this article, around 1,400 kilograms of steel are crumbling away worldwide due to corrosion. Quietly and irreversibly. Only a few corrosion problems have a media impact as intense as a bridge collapsing, such as Ponte Morandi Bridge in Genoa, Italy, in 2018. However, every metal structure is constantly exposed to the effects of salts, acids, heat and microbes which over time corrupt its stability. The Corrosion Center at DECHEMA Research Institute offers expert advice and services for corrosion-related topics.
Some questions to Dr Maren Lepple, the DECHEMA Corrosion Center’s coordinator:
Why should I turn to you with my corrosion problem?
We cover the whole range from basic research to industrial application in our corrosion work and are embedded within the DECHEMA Research Institute. Thus, we have a wider view than many other laboratories and our interpretation goes a lot deeper. We generally take a holistic approach, meaning that our results come with an interpretation, too. Furthermore, we are known for keeping red tape to a minimum and can therefore tend to your issue very quickly. Confidentiality statements and intellectual property agreements are treated with due diligence, of course.
Which industries are you addressing?
Generally, we are the right contact for everyone working with metallic materials.
Historically, many of our customers are from the chemical industry and the plant engineering sector. However, we have done lots of projects for companies in the automotive and aviation industries, too.
Which services do you offer?
We cover the entire lifecycle of materials, from preventive measures to the analysis of corrosion damage. If you are looking for a corrosion-resistant material for a special application or developing a corrosion protection strategy, our experts are happy to consult. I wish mechanical engineers and plant manufacturers would contact us already in the design stage, which often is mainly based on material’s mechanical properties. A lot of corrosion damage could be avoided by preventive testing and protection concepts. Advanced alloy selection, nanoparticles, ceramic thermal insulation, anodising processes - there is a solution for every metallic material.
If the damage has already occurred, we offer a wide range of tests for failure analysis, taking the experience from different industries into account. Our partners benefit from an experience of more than 50 years in corrosion research, state-of-the-art equipment and the latest testing methods. Our experienced metallographs know how to uncover evidence from the microstructural analysis, microscopy and spectroscopy that can often solve a damage case.
Give us an example for a current project, please.
Recently a manufacturer of boilers approached us. You may have such an appliance in your boiler room at home, but they are also used in industry on a larger scale. The exhaust gas from the boiler is cooled to recover energy and thus a condensate is formed. As the appliances are designed to be very compact, the gas channels in the heat exchangers are also becoming narrower. Take the wrong material and the acidic pH value of the condensate will lead to corrosion in the heat exchanger. Then the gas channels are blocked by corrosion products and the unit fails.
We have built a special test facility for dew point corrosion, done electrochemical tests and analysed the materials. This helps the manufacturer to better understand the processes that lead to clogging and thus contributes to a different design of the heat exchanger in the future.
What is the Corrosion Center’s manpower?
The DECHEMA Corrosion Center comprises around 30 experts in materials science and corrosion. They work closely with electrochemists, technical chemists and microbiologists at DECHEMA Research Institute. This combination is pretty special and makes for a lot of synergies. It also makes us globally unique.
Do you collaborate with corrosion societies?
Very closely! DECHEMA hosts the offices of GfKorr, the German association for corrosion protection, EFC, the European Federation of Corrosion and WCO, the World Corrosion Organization. Our experts have been traditionally volunteering in all of them in leading positions, thus they are well connected internationally and don’t hesitate to use their contacts in our clients’ interest. It also keeps them on track of the current corrosion research.
DECHEMA also publishes the Corrosion Handbook, a comprehensive collection of corrosion data and the chemical resistance of a wide range of materials in contact with aggressive media.
Dr Maren Lepple
is the coordinator of DECHEMA Corrosion Center.
Questions asked by Marlene Etschmann.
Save the date:
Eurocorr, the European Corrosion Congress
Brussels, 6-10. September 2020