Chemistry Profs Receive DOD Grant for Corrosion Research

Mercer University faculty members Joseph Keene (left) and Kevin Bucholtz (right). Photos courtesy of Mercer University.

Two members of the chemistry faculty at Mercer University (Macon, Georgia, USA), Joseph Keene and Kevin Bucholtz, were recently awarded a $344,289 grant through the Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP), a U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) funded program that supports university research infrastructure essential to high-quality Navy relevant research.

The DOD announced DURIP awards to 150 university researchers totaling $50 million. This year’s grants were provided to 85 institutions in 33 states to support purchases of major research equipment to augment current capabilities, as well as develop new ones.

Mercer’s grant will provide funding for state-of-the-art research instrumentation and equipment related to corrosion prevention and control and expand ongoing work in the Department of Chemistry in collaboration with the Mercer Engineering Research Center (MERC), the applied research arm of Mercer University.  

With its DURIP funding, Mercer researchers will be able to purchase a suite of equipment and instrumentation, including handheld instruments, a glossmeter and a colorimeter, and laboratory-based infrared spectrometer with microscope. This will enable researchers to bridge the gap between laboratory-based research and field-level implementation to detect, analyze, and inform corrosion-related solutions.

“Corrosion is a surprisingly costly issue that also has direct implications for our national security,” says Keene, an assistant professor of chemistry at Mercer. “This DURIP grant provides us with the necessary resources to perform fundamental investigations at the atomic and molecular levels on corrosion-related processes, methods and materials. We are studying corrosion in order to develop solutions at all stages of intervention in the corrosion process: prevention, control and remediation.”

“This grant will expand our capabilities to continue work on corrosion-related projects with the DOD and will make us more competitive in pursuing DOD grants and contracts in the future,” adds Bucholtz, a Mercer professor of chemistry and director of undergraduate research. “The uniqueness of the corrosion suite of instrumentation funded by this award is that not only will we investigate fundamental corrosion processes on emerging additive manufacturing metal alloy substrates, but we will also develop and deploy non-destructive, field-level, real-world atomic- and molecular-level testing elements.”

Both Keene and Bucholtz have prior experience with surface phenomenon at a variety of interfaces, and also have a combined track record of corrosion-related work with the DOD. The recent grant builds on prior collaborative work with MERC and the U.S. Air Force (USAF), and the Air Force Research Laboratory to investigate new technologies, processes, and materials that might inhibit or control corrosion on USAF support equipment and vehicles.

“The collaborative efforts of MERC and Mercer’s Department of Chemistry are laying the groundwork for a fundamental change in the way we inspect aircraft,” says Andi Mitchell, executive director of MERC. “We have been excited both by the possibilities of the technology and the opportunities for undergraduates to perform highly relevant research that makes a difference. Those graduates will enter the workforce ready to support the needs of industry from day one.”

Source: The Den,