MarTERA SMARTAQUA: Development of SMART nanostructured layers for sensing corrosion in AQUAtic structures

Corrosion is a result of thermodynamically-driven processed which occur due to the interaction of active metal alloys with the surrounding environment, leading to the degradation of metallic structures. The problem is particularly relevant in maritime offshore structures due to aggressive conditions such as high salinity and humidity. Although there are several methods to monitor the condition of structures in service-life, most of them are complex, expensive and above all do not provide direct information regarding the real condition of the underlying substrate.

The main goal of SMARTAQUA is to develop a sensing nanolayer applied directly on steel structures, to provide cost-effective, reliable means of detecting degradation. The sensing properties will be achieved by incorporation of smart additives which are responsive to the local conditions verified close to the metal substrate, combining colorimetric with magnetic detection, permitting thus to monitor the overall integrity of the structure. The additives to be developed are based upon inorganic hosting structures for controlled release of optically active species such as pH indicators and magnetic nanoparticles.

SMARTAQUA consortium is composed of three partners from European countries with strong coastal activity, namely University of Aveiro (Portugal), SINTEF (Norway) and AquaBioTech (Malta). The partners combined complementary expertise in fields such as materials science, surface engineering, coating technology and ecotoxicology and cover different sectors, from academia to research institutes and SMEs.

The expected output of SMARTAQUA is a new generation of sensing nanostructured layers that will be applied in different structures to monitor corrosion degradation. Ultimately, it will have an impact in different economic sectors associated to Blue Growth, from local aquaculture and floating fish farm facilities to windmills, but also more traditional sectors such as oil platforms and ship industry.

SMARTAQUA concept, sensors to detect corrosion