Transforming Non-Recyclable Waste into Sustainable Solutions: Novel Anti-corrosion Coatings for Offshore Wind Turbines

Research projects

Project Description:

This Research Project is part of the Aura CDT’s Keeping it green: Preserving materials and repurposing waste within the Offshore Wind sector Cluster.

Municipal solid waste (MSW) mainly comprises commercial, residential, and domestic wastes generated in semisolid or solid forms in municipal areas. By 2050, it is estimated that the generation of MSW will increase to around 4.54 billion tonnes, a 45% increase from 2019. Among MSW, Non-Recyclable Plastic (NRP) waste has been a long-term environmental and economic concern. Landfilling and incineration of NRP waste have several environmental consequences, such as contamination of groundwater and soil, the release of greenhouse gas emissions, microplastics, bisphenols, and phthalates, and resource depletion. This waste management approach represents a missed opportunity for a more sustainable approach to waste management.

Offshore wind energy is a leading option for clean energy generation due to more reliable and higher wind speeds than onshore locations. However, since Offshore Wind Turbines (OWTs) are exposed to harsh and corrosive environmental conditions, corrosion is the main root cause of offshore structure failure, which can be as high as 2.5 mm/year. The common corrosion zones in OWTs include submerged, tidal, splash, and atmospheric zones, which are susceptible to various types of corrosion, including uniform, crevice, pitting, and microbial corrosion. The cost of corrosion repair can reach £1k/m2 depending on the distance from shore and water depth. The application of coating systems is the most common method used to control corrosion in OWTs.

The EU’s energy plan aims to become the world leader in offshore wind energy production by 2030 by including 55 GW. To meet this objective, it is necessary to decrease OWTs maintenance costs and increase the reliability of current wind energy system technologies. This project aims to develop a sustainable, superhydrophobic, cost-effective, anti-corrosion coating system from the NRP waste for the direct application on the steel structures of the submerged zone, tidal zone, splash zone, and atmospheric zone, based on the following objectives: (1) generation of coating material from NRP waste, mainly polystyrene and polyvinyl chloride, using electrophoretic deposition technique, (2) characterisation of coating material structure and stability using a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM), Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy (EDS), Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR), contact angle measurement, and Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM), (3) testing the  corrosion performance of the coatings, and (4) carrying out a Techno-economic Assessment (TEA) for utilisation of NRP waste in developing anti-corrosion coating system, to be completed in parallel with the experimental work. The experimental procedure will include an iterative process that links synthesis, characterisation, and corrosion testing to achieve the desired coating properties. Moreover, the resistance of the coating against corrosion will be tested in a harsh offshore environment using synthetic and natural seawater at the University of Hull

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