Over the last few years we have been actively developing corrosion monitoring systems for a variety of applications that include pipes and containers in water oil and gas industries, outdoor metal structures (e.g. roofs, oil platforms, power grid etc.) and most importantly reusable rockets and fusion reactors. The funding obtained from Enterprise Estonia (EAS) in the project EU53688 allows us to proceed with the next step, which is the commercialization of the developed technologies.
A large portion of the annual cost of corrosion can be attributed to the corrosion of pipes and ventilation systems. However, the corroding surface is mostly inaccessible in these conditions and therefore the detection and monitoring of corrosion for evaluating the need for possible maintenance is problematic.
Our solution to the problem is a hand-held corrosion monitoring device, that is capable of detecting the corrosion that takes place inside pipes while the measurements are done outside. We currently have a working prototype but we want to investigate also alternative approaches in order to come to the market with a user friendly product.
The development of the prototypes is funded by Captain Corrosion OÜ and Prototron.
Assembly and programming of an electronic measurement device that allows to perform materials characterization in space on student satellite ESTCube-2. (EST: Mõõteseadme valmistamine ja programmeerimine materjaliuuringute jaoks kosmoses tudengisatelliidil ESTCube-2). This electronic device is one of the two major components in our developed corrosion testing module, which will be used to test a novel nanostructured coating and a smart radiation shielding material in LEO (Low Earth Orbit).
The preparation, programming and preliminary testing of the electronic measurement device is carried out by Hedgehog OÜ and funded by Captain Corrosion OÜ (30%) and Enterprise Estonia (70%).
ESTCube group assists us with the planning of this experiment and with the integration of our corrosion testing module to the student satellite ESTCube-2. Once the satellite is in space, we will also carry out the tests together.
Laboratory of Thin Film Technology (University of Tartu) is our main partner for assembling the test system as well as other prototypes, that will be used to test the patented nanostructured coating. With them we also carry out laboratory-based materials characterization measurements and tests.
Captain Corrosion recently tested the corrosion resistance of various metals and protective coatings for a client. We tested 8 different samples in 5 different environments in total and the goal was to get an overview which materials and coatings our client needs to use for specific applications. As can be seen from the table below, some coatings needed maintenance after 1000h corrosion test while others remained completely unharmed.
How Does Radiation Cause Corrosion in Space? This is actually quite complicated as the radiation in space covers a wide spectral range and the interaction between matter and radiation depends on the wavelength (energy) of the radiation. Anyhow, radiation can be divided into two groups – ionizing and non-ionizing radiation. Non-ionizing radiation such as infrared or visible light can only damage the material if the intensity is high (e.g. laser beam). Ionizing radiation like UV-light, X-rays and gamma rays on the other hand has already enough energy to remove electrons from atoms and this degrades materials over time. In the case of high energy gamma radiation there are also other interactions possible such as the creation of electron-positron couples, compton scattering, photodisintegration and photofission. Learn more about corrosion in space by watching our new science video:
We just published a new video about corrosion in space due to charged particles. Its the 2nd episode in a three part series.
How and why do charged particles cause corrosion of materials in space? This is a question asked by many spacecraft engineers and the answer is not so simple. Namely, there is a whole zoo of different particles and every single one of them interacts with the matter in a unique way. The general rule however is that particles which have a higher mass, charge and velocity, cause more damage. For instance, electrons have a negative charge and in a scanning electron microscope they travel at about 20% of the speed of light but they hardly damage the studied substrate. Ions however have not only a charge but also a lot of mass and therefore they can also cause serious damage if their velocity is sufficient. A completely different story is with antimatter particles such as positrons and anti-protons. When these hit regular matter, then both the particle and the surface of regular matter is converted into energy in the form of gamma radiation. This radiation however can ionize the nearby matter and also do serious damage to electronics, which is shielded from particles but not from gamma rays. High energy radiation is also created when regular charged particles such as protons and electrons interact with the matter as the excess energy is released as braking light (bremsstrahlung), when the high velocity of the particle suddenly changes to zero upon hitting the surface of a material. Anyhow, the spacecrafts are constantly being bombarded with different particles and this slowly degrades the surface of the material and the resulting radiation also has a devastating effect on the electronics. Learn more by watching our new science video:
Atomic oxygen is one of the leading candidates which causes the degradation of materials in space. That’s because atomic oxygen is highly reactive and will oxidize anything that can be oxidized. This means that most vulnerable to this type of corrosion are polymers, carbon fiber materials and unprotected electronics. So in order to extend the lifespan of a spacecraft, one first needs to counter the corrosion caused by atomic oxygen. This can be done by using proper materials for making the spacecrafts components and by avoiding the exposure of sensitive electronics to space.
Captain Corrosion OÜ proudly presents a three part video series about corrosion in space. These science videos were made in collaboration with the department of materials science, University Tartu and were partially funded by the “Center of Excellence” (Project TK141). Corrosion in space is actually quite relevant right now as there are more spacecrafts in the orbit than ever before and their number keeps increasing. An average spy satellite, disguised as a weather satellite, costs about 400 million euros and their lifespan is somewhat limited due to various reasons like human errors, software/hardware failure and degradation of specific spacecraft parts due to the hostile environment of space (corrosion!). This “corrosion” of materials in space however can be quite complicated as there are multiple factors that contribute to the process. In our video series we discuss some of the most important factors. The general idea of this series is to provide additional information for companies that make spacecraft component so they can better plan their devices to last as long as possible in space.
Part 1 – How Does Atomic Oxygen Cause Corrosion in Space?
Part 2 – How do Charged Particles Cause Corrosion in Space?
Part 3 – How does Radiation Cause Corrosion in Space?
Need to test the corrosion resistance of your material or a protective coating?
In collaboration with the University of Tartu we can do both chemical and electrochemical tests to simulate real or even extreme conditions in order to evaluate the performance of your sample.
Contact us if you are interested in corrosion testing!
Chemical tests – Studied substrates are exposed to a corrosive environment similar to the real conditions where it will be used later on. We can also alter the conditions of the environment to make it more corrosive by adjusting the pH and temperature or include UV light. A common example would be a test of series to compare the quality of stainless steel samples obtained from different suppliers. Another example would be the evaluation of different protective coatings on metal substrates.
Electrochemical tests – Corrosion can electrochemically be accelerated and this allows to quickly obtain reliable information about a materials or protective coatings corrosion resistance. For instance, certain metal alloys can be immersed in a salty water for years before it corrodes while electrochemically we can evaluate its long-term performance within a hour.
Microscopy – In addition to corrosion tests we also do microscopy studies of the tested substrates in order to get additional information about the type of corrosion. For example, Pitting corrosion often occurs undetected as it stats as a tiny hole on the surface and forms a network of tunnels inside the substrate, thus greatly degrading its mechanical properties. In contrast, uniform corrosion initially affects the aesthetic appearance of a material and mechanical properties are not much affected if the problem is dealt with.