Corrosion and flow assurance

Overview

Surface engineering research

Collaboration underpins our research. We work with the oil and gas sector to find effective solutions to the key problem of internal corrosion in oil wells and pipelines. Impurities within the oil and gas can cause pipeline failure, which not only affects production but also results in health and safety concerns.

An efficient recovery of oil and gas relies on minimising the effects of mineral scale, waxes and other foulants. These foulants exists as deposits of unwanted material on pipelines of other surfaces, such as heat exchangers, for example. Our research focuses on the surface processes that facilitate the crystallisation of these foulants on engineering surfaces.

Scaling and Flow Assurance

The formation of mineral fouling on surfaces – such as carbonates, sulphates, and sulphides – imposes great constraints on operation of many industrial processes. Applications include:

  • the recovery of oil and gas
  • heat transfer surfaces in desalination geothermal plants
  • consumer products handling potable water

Our research focuses on understanding the surface processes in mineral fouling, and the nucleation and growth of crystals on solid surfaces. As a result, we have developed a number of bespoke techniques for the assessment of scaling processes in-situ.

We can visualise scaling using bespoke flow cells with integrated optical microscopy. This enables us to quantify the crystal parameters as crystals form in real-time and develop new kinetic models. We are also interested in fouling inhibition and how fouling and corrosion interact. Among other facilities, we have a bespoke rotating cold-finger rig for the assessment of wax formation.

Molten Salt Corrosion

Compared with other renewable resources – such as wind, geothermal sources and the ocean –  solar energy is showing promise, due to the great quantities of solar irradiation flux arriving on the earth. According to some estimates, the annual potential of solar energy is approximately between 1575 and 49837 EJ. 

Additionally, molten salt corrosion is crucial for the next generation of Molten Salt Reactors (MSRs) to boost the nuclear capability worldwide. At Leeds we have invested in the infrastructure to be able to test materials by gravimetric and with in-situ electrochemistry in arduous molten salt environments. We are developing material degradation maps and mechanistic information for conventional and next generation Corrosion Resistant Alloys (CRAs). 

Our current projects in this area include:

  • Mapping material durability in Na and K molten salts for Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plants
  • Na and Li-salt corrosion of Ni-alloys and the effects of flow in Molten Salt Reactors

Battery Durability and Fuel Cells

In iFS our skills in particular in corrosion (electrochemical) engineering and in advanced surface analysis mean that we can make a meaningful contribution to specific aspects of next generation battery research.  This journey has already started and our focus areas are:

  • New electrode materials for next generation Na-ion batteries
  • Understanding and engineering the solid electrolyte interphase (SEI) layer in conventional and new battery systems
  • Thin film technology for electrocatalysis of the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER)

Research team

PhD projects

We have opportunities for prospective prospective postgraduate researchers. Find out more.

Contact us

If you are interested in collaborating with us or joining our research team, please get in touch with a relevent staff member.