|Efficient exploitation and conservation of the oceans poses great technological challenges for scientists and engineers who must develop materials, structures and equipment for use in harsh environment of the oceans. For the applications of materials in marine environment, knowledge of the corrosion properties is essential for selection purposes. Presently, effort is being devoted to exploit deep-sea mineral resources. Deterioration of materials in the deep sea is due to the cumulative effect hydrostatic pressure, temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, salinity and sea current. For the first time, in-situ corrosion measurements on the effect of deep sea environment on some metallic and composite materials were carried out at depths of 500,1200,3500, and 5100 m for 168,174 and 174 days of exposure in the Indian Ocean.
Corrosion rate was obtained from weight loss measurements (mm/year) and surface morphology of as-exposed and cleaned specimens of the above materials was studied under scanning electron microscope and ED AX. Galvanic coupling of steel with zinc, magnesium and aluminium were also studied.. Tensile on metal and alloys and tensile, compressive, flexure and ILSS tests on carbon fibre reinforced composite specimen were performed on exposed specimens. XRD studies were conducted on the corrosion product of materials. In order to correlate the performance of materials in deep-sea environment, seawater current and temperature data were also collected at same period Results reveal that the corrosion behaviour of steels is controlled by dissolved oxygen prevailing and corrosion rate corresponds to dissolved oxygen available at these depth levels. This is due to the fact that oxygen acts as a cathodic deploarizer during corrosion reaction of steels in seawater. Corrosion rate of aluminium increases as the depth increases. This is due to the effect of hydrostatic pressure, which reduces the ionic radii of chlorine ions and facilitates easy penetration of these ions into surface layer. Titanium, titanium alloy (Ti-6A1-4V) and stainless steels did not show any deterioration at all depths studied. Morphology of as exposed and corroded coupons reveal different features. EDS analyses on exposed specimens are analyzed in light of seawater parameters. Carbon fibre reinforced composite did not show any change in properties like tensile, compression flexural and ILSS compared to control (unexposed) specimens. The deposition of calcium carbonate on galvanically coupled mild steel with zinc, aluminium and magnesium corresponds to availability of calcium in the deep ocean. EDS analyses on exposed coupons did not reveal calcium element below the calcium carbonate compensation depth (CCD) at 3800 m in Indian Ocean. Potentiodynamic polarization studies on some metals and alloys indicate that the behaviour of materials in deep-sea environment is a cumulative effect of all oceanographic parameters.
Tensile test results on stainless steels SS-304 & SS-316L), titanium and titanium alloy (exposed) specimens did not show any significant change in their tensile properties and is again attributed to the passive film formed on its surface and nearly zero corrosion rate observed. Microbiological investigations on the exposed materials indicate that except carbon fibre reinforced composite all other metals and alloys harboured bacterial colonies. Results have been used to recommend structural materials suitable for the deep-sea applications.