Associate Professor Petra Reinke and Charles Henderson Chaired Professor John Scully are collaborating in a new Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) sponsored by the Office of Naval Research to understand, predict, and control the role of minor elements on the early stages of corrosion in metal alloys. The multimillion dollar effort, Understanding Corrosion in 4-D, will involve researchers from Northwestern University, the University of Wisconsin, The University of Akron, and UCLA.
Corrosion, which is the environmental degradation of materials due to electrochemical reactions with the environment, accrues an annual cost of several percent of the nation’s GDP. In 2010, the Department of Defense (DOD) estimated the costs exceed $23 billion annually. Corrosion affects the longevity of infrastructure and assets ranging from DoD/ONR warfighters and warships to gas transmission pipelines.
Professor Scully has studied many aspects of corrosion for decades, and Associate Professor Reinke specializes in the observation and understanding of surface reactions. This complex problem is being analyzed by a team of experimentalists, alloy designers, and theoreticians who will apply this knowledge to design new materials with improved performance by linking electrochemistry, high-resolution microscopy, tomography and simulations to capture all aspects of the corrosion process on selected, technically highly relevant alloys.