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Corrosion researchers eager for new complex

Test framesTest frames are among the new equipment that will enhance undergraduate education in the new materials complex.It’s estimated that corrosion costs U.S. households, businesses and government agencies about $500 billion a year, and there is a long tradition of corrosion research at Ohio State. So, corrosion continues to be a major area of research in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

Research conducted at Ohio State’s Fontana Corrosion Center (FCC) focuses on the study of aqueous corrosion in an effort to develop better methods to protect materials from the adverse impacts of the environment. 

“We have been working in the middle of a big corrosion experiment, which is this complex of buildings,” joked Jerry Frankel, professor and FCC director. “The infrastructure has been degrading for a long time, and the funding to support maintenance has been reduced, so it’s a matter of ‘find-and-fix’ when it happens.”

That’s why Frankel and colleagues are excited about plans for a new corridor to house the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. There’s a strong emphasis on corrosion teaching and research in the proposed complex.

 “It’s very exciting to even think about getting into a modern space,” Frankel said.

“We have a lot of space in the current iteration of the Fontana Corrosion Center, but it’s really inefficient space,” he said. “The building design of the 1960s is different than the design of today. We have a lot of rooms with a lot of wall space, but it doesn’t really make for efficient use.”

Contemporary trends in laboratory design make much more efficient use of space, Frankel said. The FCC will have a large lab with benches that will “enhance interactions and collaborations among the graduate students, who won’t be sequestered in smaller rooms,” he explained. Efficient use of common tools like balances and easy, monitored access to chemicals encourages safe handling.

On the undergraduate front, he noted that, “The wet bench space available for our undergraduate corrosion lab class is quite limited. With the increase in our undergrad enrollment and increase in interest in the corrosion class, our numbers have been growing yearly.

“We are now forcing more students to share each setup and cramming them into a constrained space,” Frankel added. “The new Materials Teaching Laboratory will accommodate almost twice the number of students, with less crowding.”