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.