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Coatings and Corrosion Laboratory Overview

Laboratory Purpose

The Coatings and Corrosion Laboratory researches the effects of corrosion and mitigation methods related to structural materials. The Lab also works to improve coating and corrosion test methods while gauging the durability and performance of innovative coating systems designed to prevent corrosion of steel bridges.

Laboratory Description

The Coatings and Corrosion Laboratory studies the effects of corrosion on structural materials. Research is performed to better understand how corrosion damages structures, as well as how to mitigate or prevent future structural damage for materials used in corrosive environments. The Laboratory also tests numerous durable and environmentally compliant bridge coatings using both accelerated laboratory tests and natural outdoor exposure. The Laboratory develops innovative cyclic laboratory test methods for evaluating bridge coating performance and highly reproducible techniques for evaluating coating failures. In addition, the Lab assists State departments of transportation (DOTs) to evaluate corrosion-related issues, solve a variety of bridge coating problems, and recommend appropriate coatings for different environmental conditions. The Laboratory also performs metallographic examinations, allowing it to assess the structural makeup and potential damage due to corrosion at a microstructural level.

Recent Accomplishments and Contributions

  • Coating performance evaluation on contaminated substrates.
  • Comparison and evaluation of coating/corrosion performance of laser paint stripping vs. grit blasting for spot repairs on structures.
  • Evaluation of the prevalence of stress corrosion cracking of high-grade stainless steels in low temperature, concrete pore solution environments.
  • Laboratory evaluation of corrosion resistance of various metallic dowel bars.
  • A comparative laboratory study of metallic reinforcing steels.

Laboratory Capabilities

The Coatings and Corrosion Laboratory performs the following activities:

  • Performs ASTM and internally-developed accelerated corrosion testing on structural materials.
  • Develops rapid forensic analytical techniques for identifying structural corrosion issues and determining causes of field coating failures.
  • Performs ASTM standard material tests and metallographic examinations to assess the properties of structural materials.
  • Performs research into corrosion mechanisms and mitigation methods for structural materials.
  • Produces essential bridge coating performance data for DOTs.
  • Develops reliable laboratory test methods to study the performance of various bridge coatings.
  • Develops easy-to-use and quantitative methods for measuring coating failures.
  • Measures coating mechanical properties by various physical test methods.
  • Characterizes paint composition using various wet chemistry methods, scanning electron microscopy/energy dispersive analysis, and other spectroscopic techniques.
  • Performs American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHTO) standard paint tests.
  • Detects early coating failures using microscopic and spectroscopic techniques.
  • Determines chloride concentrations of steel, coating surfaces, structural concrete, and grout, both in the lab and in the field.
  • Evaluates the accuracy and efficiency of both laboratory and field test methods for determining the level of contamination on steel bridges.
  • Investigates wetting properties of paint materials on substrates using contact angle measurement system.
  • Determines presence and rate of corrosion and barrier properties using nondestructive electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS).
  • Performs design and assessment of cathodic protection systems.

Laboratory Services

The Coatings and Corrosion Laboratory performs the following services:

  • Assists State DOTs in selecting durable coating systems in different environmental conditions.
  • Performs forensic analysis of corrosion- and coatings-related failures.
  • Recommends testing techniques to State DOTs and industries for determination of coating failure.
  • Presents corrosion and coating research to:
    • Society for Protective Coatings Conference
    • AASHTO/National Steel Bridge Alliance (NSBA)
    • NACE International Steel Bridge Collaboration meeting
    • Transportation Research Board meeting
    • ASTM G01 Committee
  • Provides technical assistance to other research groups within Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center.

Laboratory Equipment

  • Gamry 600+ Potentiostats
  • Ion Chromatography, for anion and cation classification
  • Inverted metallography-specific microscope
  • Polishing/etching equipment for metallographic preparation
  • Portable soluble salt detector
  • Contact angle measurement system
  • Salt Fog Chambers
  • UV/Heat exposure chambers
  • Cold exposure chamber
  • Outdoor exposure facility
  • Coatings application facility
Updated: Monday, December 2, 2019