Public Release: 

UTSA partners with SwRI on corrosion and energy projects

University of Texas at San Antonio

The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) have announced two new research projects, which will receive a total of $250,000 in funding. The first project will research a new technique to mitigate cracking and corrosion in piping and related equipment used by the oil and gas industry. The second will investigate the development of a traffic management system that will be powered using sustainable thermal energy.

The projects were funded through the Connecting Through Research Partnerships (Connect) program, which stimulates inter-organizational research between UTSA and SwRI in advanced materials, chemistry and chemical engineering, energy, environment, security and manufacturing.

The risks to safety and the environment associated with material failure for deep sea drilling and oil transmission pipelines are enormous. Material failure caused by corrosion is a significant risk identified by the oil and gas industry. Brendy C. Rincon Troconis, UTSA assistant professor of mechanical engineering, and James Dante, manager of the SwRI Environmental Performance of Materials Section, will collaborate to identify changes in solution chemistry and oxide film composition that cause localized corrosion and cracking. The team will use in-situ Raman Spectroscopy and electrochemical corrosion measurements to evaluate and address critical corrosion pathways that can be mitigated by selecting appropriate inhibitors or advanced materials.

"UTSA is known for its current research growth and creative pathways to addressing the problems of our community," said Rincon Troconis. "I'm excited to collaborate with SwRI and leverage our research team here at UTSA to examine new methods of assessing the mechanisms of corrosion in harsh oil and gas environments."

For the second project, Samer Dessouky, UTSA associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, and Jerome Helffrich, institute scientist in the SwRI Applied Physics Division, will develop a novel traffic system that would harvest ambient energy as a power source for sensors that would detect traffic and activate signage. Texas road fatalities in rural areas reached a record high in 2016, about 2.4 times greater than fatality rates in urban areas. A potential cause may be the lack of signals at intersections.

"These chosen projects also fit within our developing Smart Cities and Sustainable Communities/Critical Infrastructure research portfolio and will benefit all citizens of Texas and beyond," said Bernard Arulanandam, UTSA Interim Vice President for Research. "Open collaboration within our network of research institutions here in San Antonio is key in developing practical solutions to address critical often aging resources and assets."

"The Connect projects that were selected this year deal with two important infrastructure assets, roads and pipelines," said SwRI Executive Vice President and COO Walt Downing. "UTSA faculty and graduate students working together with SwRI scientists and engineers will develop innovative technologies to increase public safety."


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