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Sun June 13 2021

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US government launches ‘rust busters’ prize competition

23 Aug 19 The US government has launched a prize competition that seeks to identify new ideas for controlling corrosion in steel structures such as penstocks at dams.

Steel radial gates like the ones on Minidoka Dam in Idaho need continuous corrosion protection
Steel radial gates like the ones on Minidoka Dam in Idaho need continuous corrosion protection

The Bureau of Reclamation said that many hydraulic steel structures need continuous corrosion protection, but some past methods have been abandoned due to safety and environmental concerns. Many newer protection methods do not last as long, are less effective or come with much higher costs.

This competition builds upon stage 1, completed in 2017, which sought written theoretical ideas for long-term corrosion protection for hydraulic steel structures. The aim in the second stage is to advance those ideas while seekng additional concepts that can be prototyped and submitted for further testing and evaluation as part of the competition.

"Reclamation has many miles of hydraulic steel pipelines, gates and penstocks in and around our dams and powerplants," said Reclamation science advisor David Raff. "Finding a way to reduce the maintenance costs of these structures while increasing the life of a protection system will be a great benefit to Reclamation and its customers."

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Stage 2 of the competition is divided into two phases. Phase I seeks innovative ideas to protect hydraulic steel structures for more than 50 years with minimal maintenance and at relatively low cost, the scientific backing for their idea, and any supporting data to support their proposed solution. The first phase winners will be invited to participate in phase II, where they will prototype their approach on steel samples supplied by Reclamation. Once evaluated, three final winners will be selected to share US$100,000.

Reclamation is conducting this challenge through an ongoing partnership with the US Army Corps of Engineers and a new partnership with the NASA Tournament Labs. The competition is being managed by HeroX. 

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