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Understanding corrosion complexities

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article image Warren Green presenting the P F Thompson Memorial Lecture, keynote address of the 2014 C&P
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The Australasian Corrosion Association (ACA) organises the Corrosion and Prevention (C&P) Conference every year to promote a more informed debate about the implications and threats posed by corrosion.

A not-for-profit membership association, ACA was formed in 1955 to disseminate information on corrosion and its prevention or control through training, seminars, conferences, publications and other activities. The national industry association represents companies, organisations and individuals involved in the fight against corrosion, and promotes cooperation between academic, industrial, commercial and governmental organisations.

Corrosion is described as the naturally occurring deterioration of a material or its properties due to a reaction with the environment. Causing dangerous and expensive damage to many types of structures including pipelines, bridges, buildings and ships, corrosion is estimated to cost the Australian economy 3-5 per cent of GDP each year.

The annual Corrosion and Prevention (C&P) Conference is organised by ACA to provide asset owners, facilities managers, corrosion engineers and technicians, suppliers and contractors the opportunity to meet and discuss a wide range of topics relating to corrosion and its prevention or mitigation. Each year, the Conference brings together industry experts, academics and representatives of commercial organisations to explore best practice in corrosion management, environmental protection, public safety and economics.

Warren Green, Director and Corrosion Engineer at Vinsi Partners and Adjunct Associate Professor at Deakin University's Institute for Frontier Materials, believes participation in C&P is a valuable exercise, and finds the various technical streams as being relevant to different groups within industry.

Green delivered the 2014 P F Thomson Memorial Lecture, the keynote address of C&P each year, and spoke on electrochemistry and its affect on the durability of concrete.

In addition to the technical programme, the concurrent trade exhibition showcases the latest equipment and products available to the industry with social events providing networking opportunities for sponsors, exhibitors and attendees.

Though the Conference is traditionally held in November, the 2014 event was scheduled for September to avoid any problems with the wet season in the host city of Darwin. This year’s Conference also included more technical streams and forums relevant to the oil and gas industry.

The 2014 C&P was themed ‘Get on Top of Corrosion’ to tie-in with the location in the Northern Territory and was sponsored by Dulux Protective Coatings. The 2015 conference will be hosted in Adelaide.

ACA also organises educational activities such as seminars and training courses to inform and guide organisations and practitioners about topics including the latest protective technologies and processes. As part of this programme, the next ACA hosted event will be on ‘Protective Coatings Preventing Corrosion’ to be held at the Novotel Brisbane, Queensland on 20 November, 2014. Justin Rigby, coatings consultant at Remedy Asset Protection will be detailing the need to be flexible and adaptable when developing protective coating projects.

Managing corrosion is a challenge for owners of suburban industrial units as well as the owners of structures such as the Sydney Opera House or a gas production platform on the North West Shelf. Selecting and applying the appropriate protective coating is a vital decision for companies and asset owners.

Rigby explains that there are two main ways to protect an asset from corrosion. One is to alter the physical properties of a material by using a technology such as cathodic protection to impress a current into a structure via a sacrificial (galvanic) anode or an impressed current anode to minimise corrosion. The second is to physically isolate structures from the environment by applying a protective coating. When planning for protective coatings, it is important to consider factors such as the geography, access to the structure, and climate, all of which impact the cost of the project.

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