Offshore & Onshore Infrastructure Group
The bulk of Charles work focuses on corrosion and cathodic protection. “I’m in charge of the marine corrosion and cathodic protection testing activities within the Group. Our team mainly works on corrosion in aqueous media, under the lead of Nicolas Larché. About 80% of our work involves corrosion resistant alloys.”
The objectives of the Offshore & Onshore Infrastructure Group are to estimate the corrosion resistance of materials in seawater; to develop and adapt corrosion protection methods; and to assist in selecting materials which fulfil the environmental requirements and reduce costs.
The Groups field laboratory is well appointed to perform tests in natural seawater at temperatures ranging 4°C to 90°C, and if necessary, treated with chlorine regulation systems, oxygen, pollution, etc.
“When a customer contacts us, we propose a complete and independent in-situ corrosion monitoring system for continuous measurement of electrochemical potential, current and cathodic protection,” Charles explains.
Many of the companies who commission research are end-users, who may also request advice on which materials to select for a particular application.
However, manufacturers also make use of the FCI’s expertise. “Manufacturers often ask us to qualify materials and to carry out corrosion testing in the laboratory. The flexibility of our equipment means we can perform both small and large-scale experiments for marine applications, including heat exchangers, umbilicals, connectors, chlorination units and pumps, etc.”
The FCI team is justifiably proud of the extensive laboratories that the Institute runs at its sites. “The location of our Brest marine test station gives it direct access to natural seawater. One of our key strengths is the ability to perform bespoke tests to exactly meet the requirements of the customer. Our laboratories can propose literally any test required to replicate the actual in-service conditions of most activities related to seawater applications. The laboratory is equipped to simulate every type of service condition by controlling the temperature, chlorides, oxygen content, chlorine…almost everything is possible! We have a large catalogue of tools to control and measure every parameter during testing and to perfectly qualify the corrosion state after the test.”
The FCI also has strong partnerships with laboratories around the world, which enables them to undertake experiments with materials in different environments and climate zones.
Charles and his colleagues work on projects from a very wide range of applications. However, in the past year, Charles has observed a strong increase in demand for the qualification of low-grade alloys for treated seawater applications. “Many end-users operate in conditions where the seawater in their process systems is treated, resulting in significantly lower dissolved oxygen levels and bacterial activity compared to natural seawater conditions. Potentially, the user could, therefore, use lower grade alloys than the corrosion resistant alloys usually specified. We’ve seen a strong increase in demand for these kinds of tests. Simulating this environment – treated natural seawater at the same temperature, operating conditions, etc. as the actual situation – is extremely challenging in a laboratory environment. We’ve been working on this for the past two years, and have published several papers on this groundbreaking work.”