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Collaborating on corrosion

Award-winning researcher part of $7.8-million corrosion project

Research

By Jackey Locke

Dr. Faisal Khan, head, Department of Process Engineering, and director, Centre for Risk, Integrity, Safety and Engineering, is part of a collaborative research project involving four universities in Alberta and Atlantic Canada.

The project, Managing Microbial Corrosion in Canadian Offshore and Onshore Oil Production, received $7.8 million in federal government funding to advance a four-year research project to improve pipeline integrity.

Microbes and corrosion

The collaborative project examines microbial-induced corrosion, which is a major source of corrosion to different assets including pipelines, offshore production lines and gathering lines.

Researchers at Memorial University are involved in all stages of the project, which involves identifying the microbes, studying the chemical compositions of the microbes and how they cause corrosion.

“We know that microbes cause corrosion, but we are examining how they cause corrosion.” — Dr.  Faisal Khan

Dr. Khan and team, which includes Dr. Kelly Hawboldt, Department of Process Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science; and Dr. Christina Bottaro, Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, will be examining how microbes cause corrosion.

“We know that microbes cause corrosion, but we are examining how they cause corrosion,” said Dr. Khan. “We are identifying the chemical source and how it reacts to the surface of the metal to cause corrosion.

“The risk models that we’re developing will link the corrosion process to the outcome. This will be very important for industry when evaluating their level of corrosion intervention and control, and where to focus their resources on corrosion mitigation.”

Chemical source

To determine how the microbes cause corrosion, the Memorial team is hoping to identify the chemical source and how it reacts to the surface of the metal to cause corrosion.

“To do this, we will use a molecular modelling approach,” said Dr. Khan. “This means we will be studying the smallest possible scale, at the molecular level, to determine how the different chemicals interact.”

The third important activity that Memorial is involved in is risk modelling, which will determine the cause of the corrosion in terms of damage to the assets and financial losses to the companies in the short and long term.

‘Understanding and solutions’

Dr. Greg Naterer, dean, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, is proud of the innovative and groundbreaking research that Dr. Khan and his team are conducting.

“Congratulations to Drs. Khan, Hawboldt and Bottaro on this collaborative project,” he said. “Microbial-induced corrosion is a critical problem for offshore asset integrity management, safety and maintenance in Newfoundland and Labrador. This research will lead to important new understanding and solutions of benefit to industry partners.”

The project, which is managed by Genome Atlantic, was one of 13 projects that received funding in an announcement on Dec. 13 by the federal government worth $110 million. A list of all projects can be found here.


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