A multi-million pound technology centre of excellence is being created to help solve the world’s “growing £2 trillion challenge of corrosion”.
The £3 million centre, in Dudley, West Midlands, will be a purposed-designed facility to help battle corrosion. It is being set up by global testing group Exova to “identify and develop solutions” for tackling corrosion, which the company estimates costs industry £2 trillion.
Exova has chosen Dudley as a central hub for a network of laboratories that also includes facilities in Abu Dhabi, Houston in the US, Crema in Italy, Singapore, and Sandnes in Norway. Sectors the network will serve include oil and gas, construction, and aerospace.
The centre will also house the Exova Academy which will develop the next generation of corrosion engineers. Corrosion expert Dr Chris Fowler, who is leading development of the facility, said: “We're losing at lot of money to corrosion. But 30% of it can be saved by current technology. One has to invest a little to gain a lot, but there seems to be a reluctance to actually take that extra step in corrosion mitigation. People don't like investing an extra 10%, even if the long-term saving is 40%.
“There's too much short-termism. But tackling corrosion can involve using more exotic materials up-front. The people with control of the purse strings have to be on board.”
Dudley already features an Exova corrosion laboratory. “The new facility is going to be a mile up the road, so we have the two facilities together,” Fowler said. “There's a lot of advantages to being in the middle of the UK. It's a business decision as well as a personnel decision.”
The new lab will focus on corrosion fatigue and corrosion electro-chemistry. “We want more space, and ultimately we want more people,” Fowler said. “We are going to start training our own staff because we are finding it difficult to recruit people, not just in the UK but globally.”
Ian El-Mokadem, Exova’s chief executive officer, said: “The growing demand for corrosion testing services has been driven by harsher environmental conditions, particularly in relation to the oil and gas industry as the search for energy sees companies pushing the boundaries of exploration and production.”
Fowler added: “Upstream oil and gas exploration and production mean deeper wells, hotter wells and higher pressures. The environment is far more aggressive. New materials are coming on the market all the time that have to be qualified and tested. There are difficult welding procedures. It's hot and high pressure offshore.”