A $500,000 University of Newcastle joint research project will improve the safety of oil rigs and platforms in tropical oceans by investigating how quickly their moorings rust.
The University has taken delivery of more than 450 tonnes of large metal links weighing up to 200 kilograms each. Professor Robert Melchers and his team will use the materials to investigate how quickly metal chains that moor oil rigs and platforms to the ocean floor corrode.
"There are hundreds of these chains that moor a rig or platform to the ocean floor," Professor Melchers said.
"It is important that rigs and platforms remain moored in the right position to eliminate the risk of loss of the infrastructure or cause problems with the drilling.
"The research will investigate the severity of corrosion caused to the moorings. It will also create a model to accurately predict the life of these chains. This will help operators know when the chains will need replacing.
"While there has been some research in the mooring of the rigs in the North Sea there has been little work on the corrosion of moorings in tropical waters, which is important because the warmer waters increase the rate of metal corrosion."
The joint research with Reading University in the United Kingdom is funded by international classification bodies and metal manufacturers, including OneSteel.
The University of Newcastle team will focus on the corrosion of metal links and the University of Reading team, led by Professor Richard Chaplin, will look into how quickly and why metal wire rope rusts.
"The research will look at how the metal reacts or corrodes in sea water, as well as the natural wear and tear of the links as they move in the water," Professor Melchers said.
The research will make recommendations to industry on how to improve maintenance and replacement programs.
Photo opportunity: Professor Rob Melchers and the large metal links, sections of the links and tonnes of metal chain are available to photograph at the University of Newcastle Callaghan campus on September 15 and 17.