CTC shows international experts its developments to mitigate the effects of corrosion on structures exposed to the marine environment

  • The Technology Centre is implementing two European projects to develop innovative coatings that minimise the impact of this phenomenon.

  • Marine corrosion causes an annual cost of between 2.2 and 2.5 billion dollars.

  • The First International Symposium on Marine Corrosion shows an up-to-date view of the industrial and scientific challenges posed by this process.

The CTC Technology Centre has presented to international experts its ability to develop innovative solutions to help mitigate the effects of corrosion on steel structures exposed to the marine environment. Some of them, such as the coatings developed within the European MAT4OEC project, will protect offshore installations from corrosion for more than 20 years. Thanks to this advancement, resistance to the marine environment will be improved, which will make it possible to optimise the maintenance of structures located at sea and mitigate the effect of a phenomenon that destroys 25% of the steel produced in the world every year.

CTC has presented these advances during the First International Symposium on Marine Corrosion, held in the auditorium of the Science and Technology Park of Cantabria. This was a technical meeting attended by representatives from the entire value chain of sectors such as shipbuilding and offshore energy, whose primary objective is to provide a current view of the industrial and scientific challenges posed by corrosion in the marine environment.


Álvaro Rodríguez.

Álvaro Rodríguez, the coordinator of CTC’s Industry and Energy area, explained to the eighty attendees what the centre’s current capacities are in this area. “We are developing new solutions that extend the life of the structures that are in the sea” Rodríguez said. “And if we achieve this extension, we will reduce the cost of energy and enable more marine renewable energy to enter the energy pull, with the consequent reduction of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere.”

CTC is currently working on ten innovative projects related to marine corrosion. Research such as MAT4OEC, a European initiative led by CTC, with a budget of 1.1 million euros and the participation of thirteen entities from Spain, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Sweden and Belgium; or Innopaint, where the Technology Centre leads one of the three lines of research to develop anticorrosive, intelligent and multifunctional paints, guarantee the capacity of the Cantabrian centre in this field. “Five years ago, CTC identified marine corrosion as a strategic field of study,” he said. “From that moment on, we have evolved both with the incorporation of equipment and with the hiring of people with extensive knowledge in this field” said Rodríguez.

In addition to the necessary research expertise and experience, CTC has an internationally leading facility for marine corrosion testing. The MCTS El Bocal is a testing facility that is part of MaRINET2, a European network of research infrastructures for the development of systems in the field of marine renewable energies.

The marine laboratory offers three test conditions (submerged, tidal or splashing) in an open sea area, which gives the tests a high degree of replicability of the conditions with an identical environment to that supported by the offshore structures in operation. “It is a step that very few centres in Spain can take because there are no other facilities just like it” said Rodríguez.

Its uniqueness has made the installation the most demanded of the second call for proposals of the MaRINET2 network, and it has not gone unnoticed by the industry. In fact, six domestic and foreign customers are currently testing their samples at the El Bocal. HEMPEL paintings with whom CTC is developing a study is an example of this. “The collaboration with CTC helps us a lot because it gives us a different vision, offers us different test equipment and puts us in contact with end customers” argued Santiago Arias. For the director of R&D of Pinturas Hempel, “it is a win-win collaboration in which everyone benefits”.

International challenge

Marine corrosion is a global multi-sectorial challenge. “It is part of Hempel’s core-business” said Arias. “We try to find more durable and economical solutions for our end customers” he concluded. In the same vein, Pedro María Alonso Muñoz, Quality Manager of Iberdrola’s East Anglia 1 offshore substation, said that “we are researching further advances in both direct protection, with innovative coatings, and indirect protection with new engineering solutions and new, more specific materials”.

In addition to the undeniable environmental impact on water resources, this phenomenon generates a high economic cost. NACE International, the world’s leading authority in the field of corrosion, estimates the cost associated with this phenomenon to be between $2.2 and $2.5 trillion per year. This amount represents more than 3% of world GDP. Similarly, studies conducted by leading international organisations, such as the World Corrosion Organisation, indicate that it would be possible to reduce this cost by 15 to 35 percent by applying existing corrosion control techniques.

Such a conference contributes to bringing together all the agents involved in the sector. “Sometimes we get heartbroken thinking that other European countries are leading innovation” said Alonso. “But no, we have it right there, and we are doing the same or better than others” argued the Iberdrola representative concerning CTC and other research centres. “I believe Cantabria, and even Europe, should be proud that there are research centres like CTC that are leaders in these issues”.

The First International Symposium on Marine Corrosion will be completed with a visit to both the MCTS El Bocal Marine Laboratory and Degima. A demonstration of an innovative technique called TSA (Aluminium Thermal Projection) to mitigate the effects of marine corrosion will also take place there.