The effect of intermittent cathodic protection on corrosion protection in the intertidal zone

  • Wei Shi

Student thesis: Phd


As an important technique for corrosion control in marine environment, Cathodic Protection (CP) should be applied with a full understanding of environmental conditions and a good consideration of current requirements. Early studies on different kinds of steel specimens in the intertidal zone show severe corrosion losses. Nevertheless, there is evidence that CP can work in these regions of a steel structure because electrolyte pathway can remain some time on thin wetted surfaces when tides recede. This research aims to study corrosion activities and their behaviour under the influence of CP in a thin layer of electrolyte as a simulation of the inter-tidal zone. By means of a mechanical vibrating probe, Scanning Vibrating Electrode Technique (SVET) may be used to study local activities at coating defects in a thin electrolyte layer. The effect of CP on the local currents at the defect site was confirmed by SVET and, significantly, the development of calcareous films under these conditions in seawater was also observed. Such films are found to be effective in the absence of cathodic polarisation and only failed after damage. In order to explore the performance of applying CP, a Finite Element (FE) model of electrically connected zinc and steel samples beneath a specific thickness of electrolyte has been created, with full polarisation curves implemented for each metal based on experimental results obtained. The influence of the electrolyte conductivity and the geometry of the electrodes has also been considered. A comparison can then be made between experimental investigation and computational modelling of this corrosion cell. Epoxy-coated and uncoated mild steel samples obtained in the simulated tidal facility were also investigated. The formation of calcareous films was confirmed. Calcareous films were protective under these intermittent wetting conditions. Techniques used to understand the performance include optical observation, Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) together with Energy Dispersive X-ray (EDX) and X-ray Diffraction (XRD) analysis.
Date of Award31 Dec 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorStuart Lyon (Supervisor)


  • Cathodic protection
  • Intertidal zone
  • Corrosion protection

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