Federal Agency Announces “Rust Busters” Competition

Originally completed in 1906, the Minidoka Dam in south central Idaho Steel has radial gates that need continuous corrosion protection. Photo courtesy of Bureau of Reclamation.

The United States Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) (Washington, DC, USA), a federal agency under the U.S. Department of the Interior that oversees water resource management, recently launched “Rust Busters,” a new prize competition that solicits new, innovative, or cost-effective solutions for protecting steel structures from corrosion.

Rust Busters marks stage 2 of USBR’s long-term corrosion control competition. In Stage 1, which was completed in 2017, contestants were asked to submit written corrosion protection theories for hydraulic steel structures. Stage 2 will apply those theories for practical use as well as ask for additional concepts.

Stage 2 is divided into two phases: phase I, in which contestants present their ideas and research for protecting hydraulic steel structures for more than 50 years, and phase 2, in which winners of the first phase are invited to test their approach on steel samples supplied by Reclamation. The top three winners of phase 2 will share a cash award of $100,000.

The Rust Busters competition seeks to address the needs of hydraulic steel structures for continuous corrosion protection—a need that often goes unaddressed due to the abandonment of established corrosion protection methods or the inefficiencies of newer protection methods. "Reclamation has many miles of hydraulic steel pipelines, gates and penstocks in and around our dams and powerplants," says David Raff, a USBR science advisor. “Finding a way to reduce the maintenance costs of these structures while increasing the life of a protection system will be a great benefit to Reclamation and its customers.”

The USBR is conducting its Rust Busters challenge through an ongoing partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and a new partnership with the NASA Tournament Labs. The competition is being managed by the crowdsourcing and crowdfunding platform HeroX. For more information about Rust Busters, visit www.usbr.gov/research/challenges/corrosion.html.

Source: Bureau of Reclamation, www.usbr.gov