Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited
NACE Corrosion and EXPO 2000
NACE Corrosion and EXPO 2000Orlando, Florida
Keywords NACE, Conferences, Corrosion
The 55th NACE International Annual Corrosion Conference and Exposition was held at the Orange County Convention Center at Orlando, Florida from 26-31 March 2000.
The event had a record attendance of around 6,000 delegates and some 585 exhibition stands. As in previous years, the event featured formal technical presentations, the more informal task group meetings, several plenary lectures from award-winning specialists and an extensive programme of social events running throughout the five-day programme.
The benefit of Apollo 13's experience
The meeting was launched by a new and inspirational pre-conference presentation by the Apollo 13 team of Gene Kranz, the leader of the flight directors, and astronaut crew member Fred Haise of the momentous lunar voyage. Immortalised by the coolest understatement in history - "Houston, we have a problem" - when a fuel tank explosion ripped the side out of the spacecraft, the sequence of events that followed were recounted by the two former NASA colleagues as precisely as if they had taken place yesterday evening. The packed pre-conference auditorium listened with rapt attention as Gene Kranz described the critical decisions that had been taken to bring the spacecraft safely back to earth with limited battery power and less than 15 seconds of fuel remaining to guide its re-entry. Entitled "Failure is not an option", the speakers used their talk to illustrate the importance of teamwork and training and character in the mission-critical situation, explaining the confidence and trust these can generate. After the lecture, in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, both men patiently signed autographs for the attendees. The event was followed by the member reception - giving delegates the opportunity to meet old friends and make new ones over drinks and snacks, making use of the tokens included in their delegate packs.
The meeting proper got under way at 8am on Monday with some 43 technical symposia covering all aspects of corrosion technology from aerospace to long-term nuclear waste storage, coatings to computerised corrosion data evaluation. Sorting your way through the programme, finding your way round the enormous Orange County Convention Center, or simply getting to a meeting in time for the presentation you wanted to see, could take real effort.
It is impossible to focus on one or two sessions as being "better" than the rest - though the meetings on corrosion in fossil fuel combustion and conversion systems, refinery industry corrosion, pipeline repair and rehabilitation, and "ageing systems" (i.e. primarily the military services) were especially strong. Saying this is to slight excellent sessions on coatings selection, application and performance appraisal, cooling water, the expanding nuclear industry presentations on corrosion prevention in steam generator and reactor systems, cathodic protection, the excellent Friday morning session on chemical process industry interests, and a dozen more.
Speller Award Lecture from Peter Scott
The NACE meeting has a special place in the corrosion world, serving as the primary information exchange opportunity for the global corrosion prevention industry. It takes two or three visits to settle in, get your bearings and start to identify the prime movers in the field. Gradually, however, the faces become familiar and your efforts are well-rewarded. The meeting takes on a new dimension as you connect faces to names only seen previously in print. It is even more surprising to discover that these are not only real people but also, frequently, generous and approachable colleagues, more than willing to discuss your interests and bring an insight to your work that only depth of experience and intimate familiarity with a field can allow. It is true that some of the great men of corrosion are no longer with us, but the field is only around 30 years old and several are still active. Certainly it is possible to meet and interact with researchers who, as well as being at the top of their own fields, have first-hand memories of working with the founding fathers of corrosion technology.
It was a particular pleasure to witness Peter Scott's Speller Award Lecture, having been aware for some time of his thoughts on several of the issues considered. Although now a major technical resource for the Framatome Company in Paris, Peter Scott was based for many years at Harwell in the UK. He has an intimate and exceptional depth of experience in nuclear systems and his lecture was a perfect opportunity for the benefit of his experience to be brought to the public domain. With typical deference, combined with a healthy scepticism of "conventional wisdom", Scott explained simply and concisely to the audience issues that are the focus of current attention in light water power reactor technology. Introduced and simultaneously harangued by former Speller Award recipient, Peter Andresen, Scott exhibited typical style: professing not to rise to provocation while responding perfectly to the obligatory professional jibe from the GE camp.
Focus on pipeline safety
Each year's event throws up at least one issue of immediate current concern and this year the hottest topic was pipeline safety. The scene was set in the first day's Plenary Lecture, entitled "The role of operator training and qualification in pipeline safety", which was presented by Brad Lewis of Kinder Morgan Energy Partners. Chair of the Professional Activities Committee, vice-chair of the former T-10 Technical Committee on Underground Corrosion Control, and a current NACE director, Brad Lewis's direct and informed presentation presented the background and the issues that have resulted in the recent DOT operator qualification initiative.
The operator qualification or "OQ" legislation, which replaces regulatory guidelines with "negotiated targets" for gas (and liquid) transmission and distribution pipelines, has brought about a direct requirement for demonstrable competence and corrosion risk management in pipeline operation. The excellent "Front page corrosion issues" session that took place on Tuesday continued this theme. Kevin Garrity chaired a series of first-class presentations on the theme of "Pipeline safety in the Americas", illustrating how the new legislation was being implemented. The event had added spice in the light of the sensitivity shown by the larger gas industry societies to NACE involvement in setting competence training standards and certification in cathodic protection. (The consequent stance of at least one major operator was to restrict participation in the NACE technical sessions to only one company member.) Delegates were provided with an up-to-the-second overview of developing industry practice and its implications for future operator compliance standards. The US stance is one of "negotiated rulemaking", rather than government directive. However, where operators might appear unwilling or reluctant to work with the regulatory authorities imposed compliance is the only alternative.
Legislative pressures from the OQ directive, combined with the recent NACE strategy of direct involvement with government and regulatory agencies, have resulted in a degree of annoyance by some agencies who have been used to seeing themselves as the leading players in gas transmission affairs. It has been perceived by such organisations that the NACE initiative somehow threatened the establishment position. In reality of course there was no reason why these same organisations could not have worked with NACE in the past to prepare suitable guidelines. Instead, corrosion was relegated to the periphery of pipeline operation, whereas in fact when lifetime extension and efficiency are at the top of the industry agenda its proper place is at the forefront of safety, environmental protection, and cost-effective asset management.
The NACE stance on this issue is to be applauded and encouraged for focusing attention on the importance and benefits of modern corrosion management and risk-based mechanical integrity assurance. The benefits of the new approach are greater pipeline integrity and safety, and reduced overall operating costs. The movement is towards performance standards and away from regulatory standards. The public is better informed and involved in the integrity management process and "risk communication" means it takes a degree of responsibility for decisions and actions taken on pipeline safety.
Awards and banquet
The NACE annual awards presentation and conference banquet took place on Wednesday evening. Recognition of achievement and contribution is something which North America handles particularly well. Some 2,500 delegates witnessed presentations to this year's awards recipients: George Hays (the R.A. Brannon Award), Peter Kritzler (the A.B. Campbell Award), Jesse Lumsden (the T.J. Hull Award), and Peter Scott (the Frank Newman Speller Award). The new NACE fellows were inducted, one of whom was Brian Ives, professor and director of W.W. Smeltzer Corrosion Laboratory (and member of the Editorial Advisory Board of Anti-Corrosion Methods and Materials) alongside Koji Hashimoto and Toshio Shibata from Japan, Oladis TrocÆnis de Rincon from Venezuela, George King and Boris Miksic of the USA.
Distinguished organization awards went to Dow Chemical, Fluor Daniel and Mesa Products. Distinguished service awards to Clay Beresford, Al Hendricks, Paige Herbert, Steve Nikolakakos, Steve Poncio, Ian Purvis, Laurie Grace (for his contribution in launching and developing the Singapore Corrosion Society). Technical achievement awards went to Jean-Pierre Audouard, Wayne Frenier, Brian Hopkinson, Sara Kennedy and Gaylord Smith, and the presidential achievement award was given to the team behind the NACE Coating Inspector Training and Certification Scheme. Outgoing president Gene Clark clearly enjoyed giving out the Oscars as he conducted the no-nonsense awards ceremony on this, the last public event of his presidency. At the end, Lee Bone was introduced as the incoming president. Lee Bone has been a staunch supporter and senior officer of NACE for most of the last 20 or so years. No doubt he will take a firm and authoritative grip of the NACE reins over the coming year. Standing quietly just out of the limelight this year was Iba Al-Adel, new incoming vice-president and president-elect, who will be appointed this time next year. Already beginning the run-up to his term of office, the nomination of Iba Al-Adel is only a minor indication of the determination of the current board of NACE to overcome inherent conservatism, enabling NACE to deliver its objectives of better corrosion control and improved recognition for practising corrosion engineers.
Points of interest
The proposal to merge NACE and the Society for Protective Coatings (SSPC) was another hot topic. Based in Pittsburgh, SSPC has some 9,000 individual members and approximately 750 member companies. Discussions have been under way for some months and it was reported that good progress had been made. Working parties from both organisations are currently preparing reports and recommendations for their respective boards. It is expected that these will be considered around the middle of the year, and Gene Clark stated that, if both boards were to recommend that a merger would be worthwhile, members of each society would be asked to vote on the merger proposal in the late autumn.
Thursday saw a continuation of the technical symposia, more task group meetings, and the announcement of a major overhaul to the Technical Committee structure to speed its operations and improve its management and co-ordination. No changes to the work that is going on, just a simpler organisational structure was the message here, but more than 100 of the "old" Technical Committees will now be administered under just five categories. Even if the new numbering system is more logical it will take a little while before everyone understands how it works.
The International Relations Forum is also gaining momentum as NACE International wishes increasingly to "work with" professional corrosion societies around the world. It is anticipated that interaction between NACE and these societies will be improved by dialogue and the development of closer understanding and collaboration. The new "cost of corrosion" initiatives, in progress in North and South America, various European countries and, in particular, Japan, could yield enormous returns if led and co-ordinated effectively and on a global basis. New results presented by Toshio Shibata from Japan have revealed that improved corrosion control technologies (introduced in the wake of the Hoar Report) have resulted in a substantial reduction in the costs of corrosion. It is clear that increased costs mean that the real dollar value of corrosion control is now even higher than when the original report was undertaken. Nevertheless, independent studies have revealed that corrosion failures are consistently responsible for more than 50 per cent of unscheduled outages in the power generation, chemical processing and oil and gas production industries. Recognition of corrosion as the primary cause of unplanned operating losses, and the new opportunity to address this type of failure by the application of emerging data management technologies, means that corrosion technology has a huge part to play in the coming millennium.
Corrosion 2000 was a good meeting. Despite it being "Spring Break" for many schools in the USA, there seemed to be less absenteeism than was the case last time the meeting was held in Orlando. Next year the meeting will be held in Houston for the first time since 1985, and it was reported that 470 exhibition booths have already been sold. Gerry Shankel, the chief executive and head of the administration staff at NACE International had every right to feel satisfied at the success of this year's meeting. How lucky the organisation was to recruit him! Shankel was not satisfied of course - but then again he never is. He just wants the 2001 corrosion meeting to be even better - and if you are in corrosion, then you really should not miss it.