Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Preventing another Flint, Mich.; new research could lead to more corrosion-resistant water pipes

04.05.2016

With documented public water problems in Flint, Mich., and Hoosick Falls, N.Y., caused by corrosion, understanding how copper is affected at the atomic level is critical to avoiding problems in future pipes. Corrosion-related damage costs more than three percent of the United States' Gross Domestic Product (about $503.1 billion, going by 2013 numbers).

Using state-of-the-art in situ microscopy techniques, scientists at Binghamton University were able to watch the oxidation of copper -- the primary building material for millions of miles of water piping -- at the atomic level as it was happening. What they saw could help create pipes with better corrosion resistance.


This is an in-situ atomic-scale observation of the oxidation process of a copper surface by transmission electron microscopy.

Credit: Guangwen Zhou

"Oxidation of metals [the loss of electrons at the molecular or atomic level] is a universal reaction caused by the simple fact that the oxide of most metals is more stable than the metal itself. Resistance to corrosion or oxidation is one of the most important properties for materials exposed to air or water," said Guangwen Zhou, associate professor of mechanical engineering at Binghamton University and co-author on the study.

"Because water is naturally corrosive, especially for pipes carrying hot water, where the elevated temperature accelerates the oxidation/corrosion rates, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires all water systems monitored for the levels of copper," Zhou added.

"The most common reason for water utilities to add corrosion inhibitors is to avoid copper corrosion. The research findings of our study on the oxidation of copper alloys can facilitate the development of new alloys with improved resistance to corrosion in water."

Beyond water pipes, observing how copper oxidizes also sheds light on maintaining material stability in nanodevices that are used in energy and medical science. Using atomic-resolution electron microscopes, scientists demonstrated that the oxidation of copper occurs via layer-to-island growth of copper oxide on flat copper surfaces with copper atoms evaporating from the surface.

Solid oxide, made of copper and oxygen atoms thermally mixing microscopically above the original surface, is deposited back on the surface. This is different from the long-held idea of a solid-solid transformation. The observation is counterintuitive because if a surface can be made more uneven, it can resist oxidation better.

"Recent advances in instrumentation have made it possible to investigate the oxidation of metals exposed to oxygen gas and elevated temperature with in situ measurements. Employment of these techniques can provide unique opportunities to establish the principles of controlling atomic processes of surface oxidation," Zhou said. "Using these tools, we are able to gain unprecedented insight into the oxidation mechanism of copper and copper alloys."

According to Zhou, not all oxidation is a bad thing. "(Oxidation) can lead to the formation of a protective layer against corrosion attack," he said. "Our results establish the principles of predicting the trend for promoting or suppressing the oxidation of materials, which is much needed for smarter utilization to steer the reaction toward the desired direction for real applications such as corrosion resistance or improved chemical catalysis."

###

Qing Zhu, Wissam A. Saidi, and Judith C. Yang from the University of Pittsburgh are all co-authors of the study, along with Binghamton graduate student Lianfeng Zou.

The study, "Early and transient stages of Cu oxidation: Atomistic insights from theoretical simulations and in situ experiments" was published in Surface Science.

Media Contact

Guangwen Zhou
gzhou@binghamton.edu
607-777-5084

 @binghamtonu

http://www.binghamton.edu 

Guangwen Zhou | EurekAlert!

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht A new tool for discovering nanoporous materials
23.05.2017 | Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

nachricht Did you know that packaging is becoming intelligent through flash systems?
23.05.2017 | Heraeus Noblelight GmbH

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can the immune system be boosted against Staphylococcus aureus by delivery of messenger RNA?

Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

First Juno science results supported by University of Leicester's Jupiter 'forecast'

26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>