The MCTS El Bocal opens its new corrosion test area with a study by the University of Leicester and the TWI research centre

The CTC Technology Centre has increased the testing capabilities of its Marine Corrosion Test Site MCTS El Bocal. A new study area has been set up to allow researchers to test the evolution of the samples under real atmospheric conditions. A study on coatings with the capacity to detect corrosion, promoted by the University of Leicester and the renowned research centre, The Welding Institute (TWI), was the first to use the brand-new functionalities of the Cantabrian infrastructure.

The MCTS El Bocal has been expanded within the facilities of the Spanish Institute of Oceanography, an entity with which CTC jointly manages this laboratory. Specifically, a new frame, with capacity for over 200 samples, has been installed in an area located 20 metres from the coastline. This location makes it easier to measure the impact of real atmospheric conditions typical of the marine environment on the specimens, without direct contact with the sea.

Situación del nuevo área.

The new test area, set up at the end of May, joins the four that already existed in the Cantabrian facility (submerged, tidal, splashing and atmospheric) and represents a further step in the consolidation of the laboratory as an international benchmark for all types of studies and research that warrant reproducing the usual conditions of a real marine environment. It offers a catalogue of services particularly suitable for analysing the coatings and materials used in both renewable energy devices and ships or any structure exposed to the marine environment.

The first initiative to use this study area is international research linked to the European  project Marinet2. The University of Leicester and the TWI Centre have installed 40 test tubes with paint samples in the new MCTS El Bocal frame. After six months of exposure, they expect results that will help them configure an innovative coating with a sensorial effect against corrosion. They aim to develop a paint that will warn if it detects the appearance of this phenomenon in steel structures.

If they achieve the expected results, the coating will become an excellent partner to optimise the maintenance of any metal installation or component in contact with marine environments.

This study consolidates the excellent relationship that the CTC Technology Centre has with the British university and innovation centre. In this sense, the research capacities in specific areas such as marine corrosion and its marked commercial vocation, with a facility such as the MCTS El Bocal, have made CTC a remarkably interesting partner for both entities. Thus, in the summer of 2018, Rosa Griñón, a doctor from the University of Leicester, carried out a research stay at CTC. Back then, the researcher was finishing her doctoral thesis on the behaviour of some metallic coatings against corrosion in marine environments. During her time in Santander, she worked at the MCTS El Bocal and incorporated the results obtained into her doctoral thesis.

Likewise, in September last year, Dr Rob Thornton, Professor of Materials Mechanics and Director of the Engineering Programme at the University of Leicester, visited CTC and showed great interest in establishing a more formal collaboration relationship between both entities. This circumstance contributes towards improving the European positioning of the Cantabrian centre in advanced materials against corrosion and biofouling.