MORGANTOWN, W.Va., March 23, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- In partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), Oceanit has successfully demonstrated a new surface treatment that protects metal surfaces against corrosion, deposition, and degradation, especially against Microbiologically-Induced Corrosion (MIC), which has eluded industrial researchers for decades.
Oceanit Laboratories developed an omniphobic (water- and oil-repelling) nano-treatment, for a variety of applications in energy, desalination, chemical, and geothermal systems. Called DragX, the treatment recently demonstrated the capability to prevent microbial corrosion in pipelines in independent laboratory and field testing. This is a significant breakthrough for the economics, safety, and reliability of energy infrastructure – and in protecting the environment.
MIC, in systems like pipelines, is caused by microorganisms that contribute to rapid degradation of metals and alloys. MIC is a growing issue, and major gas leaks, such as California's massive Porter Ranch natural gas leak in 2015, have been attributed to microbial corrosion, accounting for an estimated $1 billion in lost revenue, clean-up, repair, and lawsuits annually.
MIC can create pitting, under deposit, and galvanic corrosion that can lead to leaks and ruptures in gas lines. With support from NETL, Oceanit pursued development and evaluation of DragX nanocomposite surface treatment technologies as a solution to the looming MIC threat facing the U.S.'s sprawling natural gas infrastructure.
Corrosion tests completed by an independent lab confirmed that DragX provides substantial protection against both bacteria colony attachment and metal penetration. This function mitigates corrosion, resulting in substantially less material loss and weakening of the metal, meaning fewer leaks.
Test sections of DragX-treated pipe were 36 times better at preventing corrosion material loss compared to untreated samples in accelerated-MIC tests. The lab data showed that MIC could eat through approximately 20% of a pipeline's wall thickness in just 3 years. Use of DragX treatment under the same conditions would require 105 years of linear corrosion to reach the same 20% wall loss, far exceeding any reasonable expected lifetime of the underlying steel.
"The U.S. Dept of Energy has been an incredible partner, taking risk to bring disruption to enable the energy industry to competitively transition into the future," said Dr. Patrick Sullivan, CEO & Founder of Oceanit.
He added, "This helps the US maintain its global leadership in energy while creating jobs and reducing climate impact. The results we are seeing against MIC are truly a gamechanger for the energy sector – equating to improved safety, maintenance, and economic outcomes in addition to preventing the catastrophic environmental and human impacts of MIC pipeline failures."
Oceanit also deployed its surface treatment in field application work with Eni S.p.A., evaluating DragX for surface protection-related challenges associated with equipment, pipelines, and storage infrastructure. Eni had previously identified MIC as a critical challenge facing the Energy industry. Eni's evaluation of Oceanit technologies in their Alaska assets demonstrated significant value, with DragX-treated pipe sections showing no formation of MIC, pitting, or damage compared to untreated pipe sections which showed typical evidence of corrosion during the same time frame.
The use of DragX could be a gamechanger in terms of reducing slow, hard to detect natural gas leaks, as well as enabling protection and inspection to be conducted with minimal venting of gas. This ultimately means reduced risk for pipelines and prevention of more greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere.
DragX can be applied to refurbish aging natural gas infrastructure, which continues to creak under the strain of increased capacity and energy demands across the nation. Oceanit and their Eni partners continue development and deployment work, associated with this NETL award.