The markets: Corrosion-resistant applictions (2015)

The annual cost of metallic corrosion worldwide is staggering. Inherently corrosion-resistant, composites are ideally suited to replace metals.

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The annual cost of metallic corrosion worldwide is staggering. Considering the cost of maintenance, prevention, replacement of parts and interruption of services due to maintenance, the World Corrosion Organization (New York, NY, US) says that the annual cost of corrosion worldwide is US$2.2 trillion, more than 3% of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP). The US Department of Defense has estimated the annual cost of corrosion in its military applications alone at more than US$10 billion per year.

Inherently corrosion-resistant, composites are ideally suited to replace metal structures, including tanks, piping, cooling towers, railcars for chemical transport and much more, in this huge sector (see, for example, the photos and captions at left).

The most pressing need is still in the area of underground pipe. It’s been 43 years since Insituform (St. Louis, Mo.) founder Eric Wood invented cured-in-place pipe (CIPP). Since then, CIPP has continued to gain favor as municipalities recognize the huge benefits of an underground pipe rehabilitation technology that enables repair of deteriorating water/wastewater pipelines without expensive excavation.

A seminal report, “Buried No Longer: Confronting America’s Water Infrastructure Challenge,” from the American Water Works Assn. (AWWA, Denver, Colo.) framed the challenge: “Much of our drinking water infrastructure, the more than ... 1,609,344 km of pipes beneath our streets, is nearing the end of its useful life and approaching the age at which it needs to be replaced…. Restoring existing water systems … and expanding them to serve a growing population will cost at least $1 trillion over the next 25 years, if we are to maintain current levels of water service.” At that time, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA, Washington, DC, US) counted 240,000 water main breaks per year and expected that number to increase. Yet in 2013, nearly 43% of cities said their 2013 sewer/water/storm water budgets wouldn’t grow, but almost 40% expected increases ranging from 3.0-5.5%. Potable water pipe rehab, then, would climb from US$1.65 billion in 2012 to US$1.7 billion in 2013. Storm water system renovation would be up from US$780 million to US$850 million. And wastewater systems would see US$3.8 billion, up from 2012’s US$3.58 billion. However, city officials projected the actual need for repair and expansion at US$85 billion for water, US$9.6 billion for storm water, and an enormous US$260 billion for wastewater. The 17th Annual Municipal Survey, conducted by Underground Construction magazine (Oildom Publishing Co., Houston, TX, US), reported in October 2014 that, despite strong, continuing funding concerns by cities, municipalities for the first time in several years were expecting a substantial increase (7.7%) in new construction spending for 2014. The rehabilitation market, which maintained at least some growth throughout the recession, should reach almost US$7.1 billion, an increase of 8.4%. Cities short on money for major projects have found that increasing rehabilitation budgets to address specific and concentrated problems was still cheaper than funding major replacement projects.

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