Marquette Researcher Receives DOT Grant to Study Cathodic Protection

Dr. Qindan Huang, has received a U.S. Department of Transportation grant to evaluate the use of cathodic protection to prevent metal corrosion. Photo courtesy of Marquette University.

Dr. Qindan Huang, associate professor of civil, construction, and environmental engineering in the Opus College of Engineering at Marquette University (Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA), has received a grant worth $735,723 from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to evaluate the cathodic protection (CP) method on pipeline metals. CP shields steel from corrosion by attaching an active base metal that corrodes in its place by providing the electrons lost in the corrosive oxidation process. 

Huang and her research team will evaluate the effectiveness of CP through a novel reliability-based approach by uniquely integrating valuable pipeline integrity information to reliably model corrosion growth, assess the probability of failure, and develop reliability-based CP and corrosion management. 

“Corrosion in a time-dependent threat and is a cause of significant transmission and gathering pipeline incidents in the United States,” Huang says. “The first line of defense against external corrosion has been pipeline coating that can fail due to age and deterioration. Cathodic protection is the second line of defense and has become a widely accepted approach in the pipeline industry. However, managing cathodic protection systems is challenging due to uncontrollable environmental factors and possible current interfaces. In this research, we will leverage the extensive survey and inspection data with our novel approach to systematically evaluate the effectiveness of cathodic protection through assessing external corrosion probability of failure, risk, life-cycle cost, and benefits under various scenarios.” 

The specific technical objective of the research project will be to: 

  • Probabilistically model the growth of external corrosion defects on steel pipeline explicitly incorporating explanatory variables in the model formulation 
  • Experimentally study the stray current impact on external corrosion 
  • Quantify and propagate prevailing uncertainty in the survey and inspection data, and modeling error through reliability analysis 
  • Evaluate the impact of various explanatory variables on CP effectiveness and pipeline integrity
  • Provide reliability-based tools for decision-making under uncertainty regarding augmentation and monitoring strategies using life-cycle analysis and value of information concepts 

“Dr. Huang and her collaborators are tackling an important challenge for the longevity of our infrastructure and the safety of our environment,” says Dr. Kristina Ropella, dean of the Opus College of Engineering. “I am grateful for her leadership and vision as a Marquette researcher committed to Be The Difference for our communities.” 

Huang’s co-principal investigator on the project is Dr. Qixin Zhou, associate professor of chemical, biomolecular, and corrosion engineering at the University of Akron. The award is funded by the DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). 

Source: Marquette Today,