National Research Lab Commanding Officer Capt. Paul Stewart, right, presents the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award to Keith Lucas. He was honored for his team's 20 years of work to create ship models to advance anti-corrosion research. (Source: NRL)
Corrosion, and with it, chipping and painting, is a huge problem (as every bluejacket knows) If this is anywhere close to the solution to an age-old naval problem the Navy has advanced a great deal towards cost savings.
Corrosion is expensive. The cost of corrosion to industrialized nations is about 3 percent of GDP. In the United States that adds up to $2-4 trillion per decade, which equates to rebuilding Hurricane Katrina-scale infrastructure three or four times.
Yes, corrosion is expensive, especially when you're dealing with big things like ships, planes and vehicles for the military, manufacturing equipment, and industrial pipelines. It's important to be pre-emptive when it comes to corrosion prevention or else you could wind up spending a lot more than you'd like. You can see how products like moisture barrier bags and vapor corrosion inhibitors protects airplanes and equipment:
Mydesign: I'm not aware of any production military submarine hull that is made of anything other than high strength steel... The Russians used titanium alloy hulls, but no one uses "sheet metal" or "fiber plates"... These materials would not be useful in this application... Do you have a specific example of a submarine that uses the materials you mentioned?
Not sure I see how your comment is anywhere close to relevant... I didn't see any mention of how much the team spent on the project... My (real life) experience with NRL is that most of the projects there are run on a shoestring, and many of them yield useful results that transition very quickly into the commercial world (just like all of the other national labs)... This project translates into commercial application as well, potentially saving commercial shipping companies billions over the lifetime of their fleets... This translates into economic benefit for a VERY large group of people...
@KennJ: $3 billion is the total annual cost of corrosion for Navy ships. It includes the costs of corrosion prevention, R&D, maintenance, and losses due to corrosion. For the entire Department of Defense, the cost of corrosion is about $22.5 billion.
@Mydesign: There is no such thing as a corrosion-free metal. (You might say that polymers and ceramics are "corrosion-free," but that doesn't mean they are immune to environmental degradation). I strongly doubt that anyone in any country is building a submarine or any other marine structure without some kind of cathodic protection system.
"The Navy spends nearly $3 billion annually to fix corrosion damage of ships."
Elizabeth, that's a huge amount and comes approximately equivalent to the cost of a submarine. But many of the submarines of other countries are made of corrosion free substances like sheet metal with ionized coating, fiber plates etc. Why still US navy didn't use such corrosion free metals.