Cu-based alloys are frequently used for seawater pipings because of their resistance to chloride pitting as well as anti-fouling characteristics. One of the variations of Cu based alloys, 90-10 Cu-Ni alloy, which is 10 mass % of Ni alloyed to Cu, is often a very attractive choice for seawater applications such as ballast water systems for its reliable performance in seawater at lower cost.
Seawater intake to ballast water tanks is normally treated with disinfectants, such as chlorine, by ballast water treatment systems (BWTS) to kill invasive species in ballast water. These invasive species can become an environmental threat if released untreated. Even though the level of chlorine is thought to influence corrosion of the exposed metal, the criteria for chlorination dosing level for seawater treatment has yet to be well established for Cu-Ni pipings in spite of the long history of the alloy being used for seawater systems.
When 90-10 Cu-Ni alloy is used for seawater applications, it is typically recommended that the seawater flow should be controlled above the minimum flow rate of 1 m/s. This is because slow flow makes it easier for marine organisms to attach themselves to the metal surface, leading to microbiologically influenced corrosion (MIC). However, the flow rate of 1 m/s is rarely reached during normal operation of certain seawater lines, such as ballast water or fire-fighting systems, as these systems flow only under specific circumstances. Whether chlorinating seawater is effective to suppress the marine fouling and the subsequent corrosion of 90-10 Cu-Ni alloy under stagnant condition is unclear.
In this work, the biofouling and corrosion issues introduced above were tackled with experimental methods. 90-10 Cu-Ni samples were prepared and immersed in bottled seawater with various chlorination levels for up to 6 months with two main research objectives. The first objective was to investigate the effective dosing level of chlorination for 90-10 Cu-Ni alloys in seawater at which marine fouling is effectively suppressed. The second objective was to evaluate the effect of chlorination on the corrosion of 90-10 Cu-Ni alloy in seawater under stagnant conditions.
Key words: Seawater corrosion, hypochlorite, Cu alloy, MIC