Chile makes progress with marine biocorrosion solution

Steel plates being tested as part of the biocorrosion coatings project (Photo: MERIC)

Marine Energy Research and Innovation Center (MERIC) of Chile has obtained ‘promising’ results from the testing of materials to prevent biocorrosion on marine renewable energy devices.

Since 2015, a group of researchers from MERIC has together with the Catholic University of Chile been carrying out various tests aimed at developing a coating solution based on semiconductor polymer called PEDOT to prevent the corrosion of marine structures.

The tests have been conducted at the Coastal Marine Research Station of Las Cruces (ECIM-UC) by using stainless steel plates coated with PEDOT to protect the material from corrosion, while preventing the proliferation of microorganisms without contaminating the marine environment.

According to MERIC, the research and development of this type represents an alternative to the anti-fouling paints found on the market, which use metals and toxic elements to avoid the proliferation of corrosive biofilms on structures immersed in the sea.

MERIC has found that the coatings with PEDOT significantly delay the growth of the corrosive biofilm on the surface of the protected steel, after being exposed in seawater for several months, the center informed.

“Until now, no other interdisciplinary initiative had raised basic information on the corrosivity or aggressiveness of our coasts, neither in Chile nor in any other country of the South Pacific.

“Although the main motivation behind our study is rooted within the area of marine energies, the tests we carry out offer the opportunity to be extended to other sectors, and its results could benefit any industry that requires marine-coastal infrastructure for its development,“ said Ignacio Vargas, the leader of the project.

MERIC added the future plans include expanding the network of study sites to access different coastal areas in the north and south of the country.

“Our intention is to strengthen ties with the industry, and that different developers can, not only evaluate our solutions, but also establish collaboration for the use of our experimentation and evaluation platform to search for other solutions,” added Ignacio Vargas.

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