Three day training seminar Introduction

Cathodic Protection Engineering

This seminar is designed to update those who are responsible for executive decisions relating to corrosion control of networks of pipelines and facilities. The seminar will be held from the 8th - 13th October, 2016

The seminar will start from the very basic understanding of the electrochemical reaction of corrosion that is simply demonstrated using three nails and a source of electrical energy.

There are five corrosion cells in this picture. Why five corrosion cells? The dry cell battery is four corrosion cells in series. Each of these four has an Electro Motive Force (EMF) of about 1.5 volts and the potential difference between the + and – pole of the whole battery is over 6 volts. The 5th corrosion cell is between the nail on the left of the demonstration and the nail on the right. Natural laws govern everything in the universe and we have no option but to obey them.

This simple truth is best demonstrated by dropping a coin that has been held between your fingers. When you release the pressure that is clamping the coin in position it falls in the direction of the center of the earth. This has been codified by Newton and others under the heading of gravity and the purpose of contemplating this is to confirm that we cannot disobey the laws of nature. We have to understand the effect of these laws in order to stand up and function as human beings.

The fields of study that concern us are electrochemistry and electronics. The scientists Faraday, Newton, Nernst, Gibbs and Einstein are among those who have contributed papers, formulae and equations that codify the known laws of nature, but advances in the science of energy storage and control are developing every day.

We understand the part played by energy (electro) in the changes that take place in materials (chemistry). We use industrial methods to produce materials from natural resources to benefit human survival and comfort. The laws of thermodynamics say that there is a tendency for everything to reduce to a state of chaos known as 'entropy'. In simple terms this means that whatever we do, nature tries to undo, so metal tries to return to the ore from which it is derived.

We change the state of the metallic ores by adding heat energy and this energy can be released as part of the electrochemical process known as the corrosion reaction is going rusty. A dry cell battery is a common way that we get electrical energy from the corrosion reaction.

The laws of nature are continuously rewritten in scientific papers resulting from research and development, and the substantial laws have been used repeatedly over the centuries to achieve engineering results. If the laws are correct and the engineering practices are in compliance with the requirement of nature itself, the result can be close to permanent and humanity benefits. The world today is the result of the application of the laws of nature combined with the evolution of nature itself, driven by these natural laws.

The whole world is a cathodic protection circuit because all conductive paths are embeded into the ground and water. It is the law of nature that energy (electricity) tries to reach equilibrium and will travel through the least path of resistance (Kirchhoffs Laws)to equalise all the 'charges' in the system.

As more pipeline systems are installed, the technical problems in cathodic protection become more complex, and the global pipeline network has now grown into a huge integrated electrical network which must be balanced very skilfully to control the electro-chemical reactions that would otherwise destroy our assets.

A period of time known as ‘the enlightenment’ changed the way the whole population of the known civilised world because, it introduced a new way of thinking that was in a different direction to the path of reasoning up to that period of time.

Since then, each new idea has had an impact on the whole of science but, has been filtered through the system of approval known as peer review. In this system established hypotheses are only changed if those who believe in them can see an advantage in changing;
The dawning of the age of personal mass communication via the internet and social media, has resulted in the breakdown of the old school having power over the ideas of billions of intelligent minds.
We have now reached a time when we MUST change the fundamental basis of all cathodic protection because, it is now obvious to everyone that the present advice and guidance is not fit for purpose because it simply does not and cannot work.
The application of established corrosion control procedures is failing globally with catastrophic effect on lives, the environment and the cash flow of nations.
We now have a problem that has been described as 'cognitive dissonance' being the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioural decisions and attitude change.
You will see documentary evidence that the technology that I have developed is being actively blocked by those who are practicing the psuedo science that is advocated at present.

In 1973 I recognized the error at the basis of cathodic protection measurements and that, this affects all of the practical application and design of all cathodic protection systems.

This picture shows a standard way of gathering some of the data that is still used to analyse the corrosion status of buried pipelines. This subject is covered fully in our longer courses.

For years I tried to justify the procedures that I had been taught within the established system, before I was forced to recognize that we needed a new method of measuring the corrosion reaction that can be used outside of the laboratory.

We must return to the 3 nails experiment to observe what is really happening in the field during cathodic protection work.

This demonstration shows

  • How we measure DC electricity.

  • That the meter sets zero for each measurement.

  • That all measurements are between two variable potentials.

  • That the passage of electrical energy can be measured as it passes through the electrolyte (the ground).

  • That a copper/copper-sulphate electrode is not a reference potential in traditional cathodic protection measurements.

    Copper/copper-sulphate electrode is NOT a 'half-cell' or even a reference potential when used in this way

    Visible corrosion

  • After two hours we will see predictable visible corrosion.

  • We can measure this dynamically as it happens.

  • We will see Faradays Laws in action.

  • We will see ‘interference’ and ‘stray current’ corrosion and measure it as it happens.

    Science is not being applied in the field

    Corrosion to networks of pipelines and facilities can only be controlled as a single electronic circuit because, we can control the electrical equilibrium in the same way that we can recharge a variety of types and number of batteries in a battery charger.

    We must start by understanding the corrosion reaction that is found in dry cell batteries and move through scientific understanding to the effects of solar energy (that has been proved to be related to an increase of 17% in pipeline corrosion failure leaks in the area of one international study in which, I was involved) and progressed to learning how to measure and control the natural influences that affects the corrosion process.

    The 3 nails demonstration is a good introduction to the subject of this seminar as it shows how corrosion works and how it is measured. It is set up at the very start of the seminar and you will see visible corrosion products after two or three hours to confirm the theory of cathodic protection and the way we are making the measurements.

    I will explain and demonstrate how the understanding of scientists was not transferred successfully to those who are trying to control corrosion in the field.

    The result of the present misunderstanding is that pipelines are leaking unnecessarily all over the world. It is therefore, essential to be clear about the measurement we are making at present and the measurement that is required by all scientists.

    That is why this seminar is best attended by academics and field workers who can confirm all of the contents. Also, why policy makers must be clear about the advice they are given, and the effects of the decisions they make.

    The instruments we use are common locally in most countries and can also be obtained on line.