Center for Marine Materials

Overview

Richard Granata

Director: Richard Granata, Ph.D.

All Ocean and Mechanical Engineering department activities pertaining to materials are organized and accomplished through the Center for Marine Materials which is the only organized academic unit in the country dedicated specifically to the study of marine materials and corrosion. Flowing natural sea water is available in a laboratory setting at the oceanfront Center for Marine Materials Laboratory. The two required undergraduate materials courses (EOC 3200 and EOC 4240) provide instruction regarding the fundamental chemistry and physics of materials and interface these topics with aspects of the marine environment so that engineering materials alternatives and choices for ocean and related service are understood. This theme progresses through graduate studies with courses in corrosion and corrosion control, physical metallurgy, fracture and failure analysis, fracture mechanics, and composite materials.

Research Areas

Fatigue and Corrosion Fatigue of Metals in Sea Water

Studies in this area have emphasized failure prevention of threaded and welded connections of both structural and high strength steels as are integral to vintage and novel offshore structures, respectively. Particular emphasis has been placed upon the affects of cathodic protection and calcareous deposits upon both fatigue crack initiation and propagation.

Sponsors:
  • National Science Foundation
  • Naval Research Laboratory
  • Sea Grant Program of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Minerals Management Service of the Department of the Interior
  • consortium of companies with interests in offshore petroleum production including, Amoco, British Petroleum, Conoco, Chevron, Exxon, Kawasaki Steel, Marathon, Nippon Steel, NKK Metals, Pont a Mousson, Shell, and Sumitomo Steel.

Corrosion Control of Offshore Structures

Activities under this topic have focused upon cathodic protection and the role of calcareous deposits and coatings. Of particular interest has been development of design parameters and procedures for a) deep water applications and b) retrofit cathodic protection systems for both aged platforms and pipelines.

Sponsors:
  • Office of Naval Research
  • Sea Grant Program of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Minerals Management Service of the Department of the Interior
  • and a consortium of companies with interests in offshore petroleum production including, Amoco, British Petroleum, Chevron, Elf Aquataine, Exxon, Marathon, Mobil, Shell, and Texaco.

Corrosion and Corrosion Control of Steel in Concrete

Corrosion of reinforcing steel in concrete and the resultant cracking and spalling of concrete constitutes the single most costly form of infrastructure deterioration in developed countries. This arises from salt (chloride) contamination of the concrete in conjunction with either deicing of northern transportation systems during winter months or marine exposure, or both. While there are numerous corrosion mitigation alternatives for new (non-salt contaminated) structures, cathodic protection and electrochemical chloride removal have emerged as singularly appropriate for ones already affected. However, the high specific resistivity of concrete presents particular difficulties in application of these technologies. Prestressed concrete, which now constitutes a significant fraction of the United States inventory, involves an additional challenge because of susceptibility of prestressing steel to hydrogen embrittlement.

Sponsors:
  • National Atmospheric and Space Administration
  • Sea Grant Program of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Federal Highway Administration
  • Strategic Highway Research Program
  • National Cooperative Highway Research Program
  • Florida Department of Transportation
  • W. R. Grace and Eltech Research Corporation.

Carbon Materials for Lithium Ion Batteries

Lithium-ion technology represents the current state-of-the-art in secondary batteries. Carbon fiber materials are under investigation as potential anodes for reversibly storing lithium. Of particular interest is the synthesis of carbon fiber electrode structures from various precursor materials. Carbon fibers have been prepared from polyacrylonitrile, synthetic cellulose and mesophase pitch and electrochemically intercalated with lithium. A major goal of this work is to develop a binderless electrode structure using a unique synthesis process. Other concepts being explored include the use of carbon fiber as the positive electrode material in which both cations (Li+) and anions are reversibly inserted into carbonaceous materials.

Sponsors:
  • Wright Laboratories
  • Lion Compact Energy, Inc.
  • and the National Air and Space Administration.

Electrochemical Capacitors

Electrochemical capacitors, commonly referred to as supercapacitors, are devices that are capable of storing large amounts of charge either through charge separation across the electric double layer or through pseudocapacitance resulting from charge transfer reactions. In this program, we have developed several activation schemes that allow high specific capacitance (300 F/g) to be achieved from commercially available carbon fibers having low surface area (< 10 m2/g). The performance of electrochemical capacitors prepared from these materials is dependent on the precursor material and the microstructure and crystallinity of the resulting carbon fiber. Current research efforts are directed at synthesizing electrode structures using carbon nanofibers grown from the pyrolysis of hydrocarbons on catalyst particles.

Sponsors:
  • Idaho National Engineering Laboratory
  • United States Department of Energy
  • and the DARPA.

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