Corrosion in one of the most systemic and historically amongst the most expensive problems for the many sectors of the industry including petroleum refining, mining, transportation, food processing, nuclear industry, offshore oil and gas industry and industrial water systems. According to the survey by the U.S. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) from 1999 to 2001, the direct corrosion costs in US amount to $276 billion and when indirect costs are conservatively taken into account, the result will be 6% of US GDP[1]. Microbiologically induced corrosion (MIC), a specific form of corrosion, is a phenomenon in which corrosion of a substrate is perpetrated and/or accelerated because of the presence of microorganisms (bacteria and algae) on its surface. The research in the Mary Kay O’Connor process safety center includes the following areas:

  1. Development of sensor for the detection of microbiologically influenced corrosion: This research is focused on the usage of nanomaterials to create a substrate which would be functionalized by biomolecules to detect specific bio-moieties unique to MIC sites. The goal this to conduct specific and real time/pseudo real time detection of MIC.
  2. Integration of electron impedance spectroscopy and microfluidics for investigating microbially influenced corrosion: Development of effective mitigation strategies for MIC requires a fundamental understanding of how biofilms are formed. The aim of this study is to investigate the factors underlying formation and development of dual-culture biofilms using microfluidic flow system. This system is used to develop a correlation between the thickness of the biofilm as measured by confocal laser scanning microscope (CLSM) and impedance measurement from electron impedance spectroscopy (EIS). The effect of hydrodynamic factors like flow rate, shear stress on biofilm dynamics would be investigated.
  3. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Smart Corrosion coupon: The development of a novel type of smart corrosion coupons using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology for continuous real-time wireless monitoring of corrosion. This will combine the advantages of RFID technology and the corrosion coupon so that a better corrosion monitoring method can be realized. The central idea in this project is to create smart RFID corrosion coupons, which can emit signals indicating the corrosion status of the monitored points on demand, by placing the RFID coupons close to pipeline, which act like normal corrosion coupon.