Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Understanding Pipeline Corrosion Chemistry: What Drinking Water Distribution Systems Can Teach Us About Supercritical Carbon Dioxide Pipelines

Corrosion of drinking water distribution systems can cost water utilities and homeowners tens of billions of dollars each year in infrastructure damage, adversely impacting public health and causing water loss through leaks. Often, seemingly innocuous choices made by utilities, plumbers, and consumers can have a dramatic impact on corrosion and pipeline longevity. During the first part of this seminar, I will discuss real-world examples from my graduate research that highlight the interplay between drinking water chemistry and the corrosion of water mains and premise plumbing. In particular, I will focus on how small changes in water chemistry or the presence of dissimilar metals in the same pipe system can influence lead and iron corrosion, potentially resulting in severe public health consequences.

At NIST, I will be applying similar concepts to understand the possible unintended consequences of proposed changes to a relatively "young" pipeline infrastructure network: supercritical carbon dioxide (CO2) pipelines. Over the past few decades, naturally occurring CO2 has been transported in the supercritical state by pipeline to be used for oil recovery operations. However, proposals for anthropogenic CO2 capture and sequestration to combat climate change will depend on transport of large quantities of CO2, which would require a much larger pipeline network than currently exists. Furthermore, the chemistry of anthropogenic CO2 is very different from natural CO2, and previous work has demonstrated that many of the contaminants found in anthropogenic CO2 are corrosive to pipeline materials. In the second part of this seminar, I will discuss my planned laboratory studies at NIST to determine the corrosion rate of pipeline steels exposed to supercritical CO2 containing different levels of contaminants in order to inform scientifically-based improvements to existing regulations.


Nick Barbosa
Leader, Structural Materials Group
Material Measurement Laboratory
nicholas.barbosa [at] (nicholas[dot]barbosa[at]nist[dot]gov)

Brandi N. Clark, Ph.D. - Research Chemist, Applied Chemicals and Materials Divison, MML

Brandi received her B.S. in Chemistry from the Missouri University of Science and Technology (formerly University of Missouri – Rolla) in 2010. As an NSF Graduate Research Fellow, she went on to do her graduate work at Virginia Tech, earning M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Civil/Environmental Engineering. As a graduate student, Brandi's research focused on drinking water distribution system corrosion mechanisms and their impact on pipe lifetime, water quality, and public health, and she was awarded her Ph.D. in 2015. As an NRC Postdoc at NIST, Brandi will be focusing on characterizing the corrosion behavior of materials proposed for use in supercritical carbon dioxide pipelines, with a focus on the impurities that will be introduced to these pipelines when carbon dioxide is captured from combustion processes.

Created March 7, 2016, Updated September 21, 2016