Nanocomposite Surface Treatment Resists Microbiologically Influenced Corrosion

In partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), Oceanit Laboratories (Honolulu, Hawaii, USA) says it has successfully demonstrated a new surface treatment that protects metal surfaces against corrosion, deposition, and degradation. The treatment is especially designed to protect against microbiologically influenced corrosion (MIC).

Oceanit says it developed an omniphobic (water- and oil-repelling) nano-treatment for applications in energy, desalination, chemical, and geothermal systems. Called DragX, the treatment has 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, as well as in protecting the environment, according to the company.

MIC, in systems like pipelines, is caused by microorganisms that contribute to the rapid degradation of metals and alloys. Over the years, many major gas leaks have been attributed to microbial corrosion.

MIC can create pitting, underdeposit, and galvanic corrosion that can lead to leaks and ruptures in gas lines. With support from NETL, Oceanit developed and evaluated its DragX nanocomposite surface treatment technologies as a solution to the looming MIC threat facing sprawling U.S. natural gas infrastructure.

Corrosion tests completed by an independent lab confirmed that DragX protects against both bacteria colony attachment and metal penetration, according to the company. This function mitigates corrosion, resulting in substantially less material loss and weakening of the metal. In turn, this leads to fewer leaks.

According to the company, test sections of DragX-treated pipe in accelerated-MIC tests were 36 times better at preventing corrosion material loss, when compared to untreated samples. Lab data showed that MIC could eat through approximately 20% of a pipeline's wall thickness in just three years. By comparison, 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. Department of Energy has been an incredible partner, taking risk to bring disruption to enable the energy industry to competitively transition into the future,” says Dr. Patrick Sullivan, CEO and founder of Oceanit.

“This helps the U.S. maintain its global leadership in energy while creating jobs and reducing climate impact,” he adds. “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 energy company Eni S.p.A. (Rome, Italy), which allowed DragX to be evaluated for surface protection-related challenges associated with equipment, pipelines, and storage infrastructure. Eni had previously identified MIC as a critical challenge. Eni's evaluation of Oceanit technologies in their Alaska assets demonstrated significant value, according to the provider, with DragX-treated pipe sections showing no formation of MIC, pitting, or damage. By contrast, untreated pipe sections in the analysis showed typical evidence of corrosion.

According to the company, DragX could be a game-changer in terms of reducing slow, hard-to-detect natural gas leaks, as well as enabling protection and inspections to be conducted with minimal venting of gas. This ultimately means reduced risk for pipelines and the prevention of more greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere.

Oceanit and its partners, such as Eni, say they will continue to perform development and deployment work, as associated with the NETL award.

Source: Oceanit Laboratories,