Sina Jamali is investigating corrosion and surface science as a Research Fellow within the Steel Research Hub at the University of Wollongong.

One of the biggest global challenges in this field over the past decade has been to find an effective replacement for the chromium based corrosion inhibitors. Chromium based inhibitors perform very well for many metallic surfaces, however due to ever increasing restrictions in environmental regulations, these inhibitors will likely need to be phased out and replaced.

In addition to the need for an alternate corrosion inhibition system, Sina’s project focuses on readying the entire metal alloy coating system for downstream processing.  This entails compatibility with a high speed production line and hence, represents another immense challenge. There are also economic considerations that limit the choice of alternate inhibitors and other parameters of the protective system.

Sina’s research began by surveying a number of promising candidate compounds and techniques that would comply with the requirements of the desired protective system. Then, experiments were conducted to evaluate their potential in meeting the performance criteria in an industry-specific evaluation method. Sina’s research helped advance novel approaches in manipulating the surface chemistry of the metal for improved interaction between the metal surface and subsequent protective layers. There has also been further advancement in developing a new class of inhibitor compounds and passivation methods to achieve a more effective corrosion protection in anaerobic environments. Another achievement of the project has been the successful development of electrochemical test methods and their application to this industry-specific problem.

In the area of materials development, these findings could have an immediate impact on the cost of ongoing production as well as improving environmental aspects. Development in the area of testing methods not only contributes to a faster and more informed evaluation of the materials, but also provides a reliable testing method for on-site examinations. These new test methods could also be utilized to predict the environmental damage and reduce repair or replacement costs that are imposed by corrosion in a range of industries and applications.

The biggest highlight of the project for Sina has been the privilege of working alongside a team of talented researchers from academia and technologists from industry brought together by the Hub. Having the opportunity to work in collaboration with industry and be able to contribute to finding solutions for real life problems has been the biggest joy, he said.

Advancements in the field of electrochemistry and surface science, of which he is passionate about, has manifested itself in the form of technological developments as well as published and forthcoming scientific publications.