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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/R00496X/1
Title: Preventing Surface Degradation in Demanding Environments
Principal Investigator: Withers, Professor P
Other Investigators:
Neville, Professor A Pulham, Professor C Ryan, Professor M
Connolly, Dr BJ Lindsay, Dr R Clarke, Professor SM
Akid, Professor R Camp, Professor PJ Burke, Professor M
Matthews, Professor A Morina, Professor A Harrison, Professor N
Campbell, Dr KLS
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
BP (UK)
Department: Materials
Organisation: University of Manchester, The
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 November 2017 Ends: 31 October 2022 Value (£): 2,563,468
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Continuum Mechanics Eng. Dynamics & Tribology
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Manufacturing Energy
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
24 May 2017 Prosperity Partnerships Interviews Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Surface degradation processes, such as corrosion and wear have very significant societal, economic and safety implications. These degradation processes impact a large number of industrial sectors including, transport (marine & automotive), aerospace, nuclear, oil and gas and their respective supply chains. Corrosion alone costs industry globally $2 trillion each year, of which £55 billion per annum is the cost to the UK and $1.37 billion per year the cost to the global Oil & Gas sector. The resulting cost of wear to the UK economy is estimated at £24 billion per annum, approximately 1.6% of the country's GDP. This programme seeks to tackle this age old problem through harnessing advances in computer modelling, experimental techniques at the atomic level, in operando imaging and characterisation and accessing previously untapped in-field data sets to obtain fresh insights into materials surface degradation under the demanding environments in which they operate.

BP invest heavily in research development and innovation and have developed a long term, successful collaboration with the University of Manchester (UoM). In 2012, BP founded the BP International Centre for Advanced Materials (BP-ICAM) a $100m, 10 year investment to address challenges across BP's core business.

Following a 'Materials Technology Outlook' workshop hosted by BP, surface degradation was identified as a high priority area for future research with the potential for transformational change. The workshop felt there was an opportunity to replace industrial empiricism with mechanistically driven approaches by exploiting advances in-operando techniques and multiscale modelling to ask fundamental research questions about the nucleation and growth of corrosion scales and tribofilms and how to control them through inhibitors, lubricants and surface coatings and treatments.

This Prosperity Partnership will enable us to complement the applied research undertaken within BP-ICAM asking more fundamental rearch questions about surface degradation than BP-ICAM could tackle. Further this challenge requires additional skills beyond those provided by the ICAM partners and so will benefit from key expertise in the behaviour of materials in high pressure environments and tribocorrosion from the Universities of Edinburgh and Leeds respectively.

The preventing surface degradation in demanding environments team will look at how both corrosion scales and tribofilms initiate, grow, and breakdown through a multiscale appreciation identify ways to inhibit or prevent degradation under very demanding environments. This project will consider both the chemical and mechanical effects of surface degradation by understanding the key interaction between the material surface and near surface (10-100nm) fluid environment. It integrates advanced surface analysis studies of realistic conditions in oil and gas operations to gain a better understanding of degradation issues. It is timely as recent advances in the power of computational modelling and imaging enable researchers to look across length and time scales and observe dynamic systems and 'real world' conditions. Finally the basic understanding developed in the laboratory will be held up against big in-field data sets from BP to inform and challenge the research.

Through these fundamental insights into the mechanisms underlying surface degradation, this programme will; develop reliable predictive multi-scale models of surface degradation; present new materials systems for protection against, and prevention of, corrosion and wear; create new standardised tests for industry to use in the evaluation of degradation and propose new mitigation strategies to extend operational lifetimes.
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Organisation Website: http://www.man.ac.uk