Steel structures corrode, or degrade, without a properly applied corrosion control method. This degradation is typically identified by localized or general thinning of material, which reduces the structure’s ability to support load, carry water, etc. Failure of hydraulic steel structures can cause extensive downtime, loss of productivity, property damage, and even loss of life.
The cost of maintenance and replacement of existing corrosion control systems has increased greatly in recent decades due to increasing health, safety, and environmental concerns associated with coatings that have performed well in the past as well as the decreased life cycles of commercially available alternative coatings. New long-term solutions to protect steel structures in water immersion service will help to reduce the high cost incurred to keep steel infrastructure reliable and functional.
The Bureau of Reclamation, in collaboration with the U.S Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Navy Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is seeking long term corrosion protection for large, hydraulic steel structures beyond the protection provided by available coatings and cathodic protection. The structures of interest for this prize competition are hydroelectric penstock pipes and gates that control or divert water. The goal is fifty years of corrosion protection with minimal maintenance and low cost of installation.