C&P 2015 Ade­laide Pro­tect­ing Pub­lic Art

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All struc­tures – from do­mes­tic build­ings and pub­lic art­works to com­mer­cial of­fices and har­bour fa­cil­i­ties – are af­fected by cor­ro­sion to vary­ing de­grees. This degra­da­tion has a ma­jor eco­nomic im­pact on in­dus­try and the wider com­mu­nity: each year, it is es­ti­mated that gov­ern­ments and or­gan­i­sa­tions spend ap­prox­i­mately three per­cent of GDP – the equiv­a­lent of bil­lions of dol­lars – mit­i­gat­ing and re­pair­ing cor­ro­sion dam­age.

The de­sign, con­struc­tion and op­er­a­tion of fa­cil­i­ties and in­fra­struc­ture rep­re­sent ma­jor in­vest­ments by com­pa­nies, or­gan­i­sa­tions and gov­ern­ments. Cor­ro­sion will af­fect all struc­tures at vary­ing rates over time, de­pend­ing on the ma­te­rial used, the types of cor­ro­sive agents in the en­vi­ron­ment and the phys­i­cal pro­cesses and mech­a­nisms in­volved. How to man­age this degra­da­tion is a chal­lenge for de­sign­ers and en­gi­neers, as well as as­set own­ers, man­agers and oper­a­tors.

In or­der to pro­mote a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of cor­ro­sion, each year the Aus­tralasian Cor­ro­sion As­so­ci­a­tion (ACA) stages the Cor­ro­sion & Preven­tion Con­fer­ence that brings to­gether cor­ro­sion prac­ti­tion­ers and re­searchers, as well as as­set own­ers and oper­a­tors, from around the world.

C&P2015, held at the Ade­laide Con­ven­tion Cen­tre in Novem­ber, pro­vided a fo­rum for all cor­ro­sion stake­hold­ers to meet and dis­cuss a wide range of top­ics. In par­tic­u­lar, the con­fer­ence brought to­gether a panel of in­dus­try ex­perts to dis­cuss the chal­lenges and the im­por­tance of main­tain­ing vi­tal in­fra­struc­ture. At­ten­dees were able to par­tic­i­pate in sem­i­nars and hear tech­ni­cal pa­pers cov­er­ing best prac­tice in cor­ro­sion man­age­ment, en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion tech­niques, pub­lic safety and eco­nom­ics.

In open­ing the 2015 con­fer­ence, South Aus­tralian In­de­pen­dent Sen­a­tor, Nick Xenophon, stated that education, train­ing, com­pli­ance and Aus­tralian Stan­dards are vi­tal to the suc­cess of busi­nesses op­er­at­ing in a di­verse range of mar­kets. Sen. Xenophon is a cham­pion of Aus­tralian in­dus­try and sup­porter of lo­cal jobs. Dur­ing his pre­sen­ta­tion, the Sen­a­tor ex­pressed a com­mit­ment to sup­port the ACA to raise the pro­file of cor­ro­sion and its mit­i­ga­tion, as well as work­ing to place cor­ro­sion con­trol on the na­tional agenda. “The through life cost of cor­ro­sion can po­ten­tially be never end­ing,” Xenophon said. Such costs be­come a bur­den to in­dus­try be­cause there is in­suf­fi­cient con­trol on con­struc­tion stan­dards and cor­ro­sion coat­ings, es­pe­cially on im­ported ma­te­ri­als and prod­ucts.

Pub­lic art is of­ten over­looked when cor­ro­sion is dis­cussed, but there are of­ten mon­u­men­tal struc­tures through­out a city that over time must be pro­tected, re­paired or re­built. The degra­da­tion of the art­works them­selves, and their sup­port

struc­tures, is ex­ac­er­bated by the fact that many cities in the Aus­tralasian re­gion are si­t­u­ated on the coast with mar­itime cli­mates.

Ac­cord­ing to Les Boul­ton, Prin­ci­pal Con­sul­tant of Les Boul­ton and As­so­ciates in Auck­land, few peo­ple give pub­lic art a se­cond thought as to how it should be looked af­ter or pro­tected. “Artists have a vi­sion as to how their sculp­ture or paint­ing will look but of­ten don’t fac­tor in the ef­fect of the en­vi­ron­ment in which it is dis­played,” he added.

Boul­ton said he has been in­volved in a va­ri­ety of pub­lic art con­ser­va­tion projects in New Zealand. “Un­for­tu­nately, very few con­ser­va­tors have a met­al­lur­gi­cal or sci­en­tific back­ground,” he said. “They may be ex­perts in art or his­tory but can fail to fol­low ap­pro­pri­ate en­gi­neer­ing pro­ce­dures, es­pe­cially when deal­ing with large ki­netic sculp­tures (wind sculp­tures).”

One is­sue that is of­ten ig­nored is the prospect of lit­i­ga­tion if the struc­ture of a pub­lic art­work fails and causes dam­age or in­jury to the pub­lic. There are an in­creas­ing num­ber of large pub­lic art­works that have mov­ing com­po­nents and it is th­ese joints and bear­ings that are of­ten the weak­est point and which pose a threat to pub­lic safety in the event of a fail­ure oc­cur­ring.

In­for­ma­tion about the ef­fects and im­pact of cor­ro­sion on pub­lic art should be widely dis­sem­i­nated. “Very lit­tle has been writ­ten about this topic as we could find no pa­pers in the pub­lic do­main deal­ing with the is­sue,” Boul­ton said. He added that his co-au­thor on the pa­per he pre­sented at C&P2015 once told him “the word ‘cor­ro­sion’ wasn’t even men­tioned in art con­ser­va­tion train­ing.”

One of the most com­mon types of dam­age that is done to pub­lic art and in­fra­struc­ture is graf­fiti. Some mod­ern art­works in­clude ex­panses of f lat metal that at­tract van­dals. Justin Rigby, coat­ings con­sul­tant at Rem­edy As­set Pro­tec­tion, said that there are var­i­ous types of coat­ing that can be used de­pend­ing on the type of art and the ma­te­rial it is made from. Coat­ings are mostly clas­si­fied as ei­ther sac­ri­fi­cial or non-sac­ri­fi­cial.

Sac­ri­fi­cial types are coat­ings which can be re­moved dur­ing clean­ing to take away sur­face lay­ers thus re­mov­ing graf­fiti. Such a process can usu­ally be re­peated sev­eral times be­fore a com­plete new coat­ing needs to be ap­plied. Ex­am­ples are wax based coat­ings. Non-sac­ri­fi­cial coat­ings are ex­tremely hard­ened ma­te­ri­als that are much stronger than the harsh sol­vents that are used to dis­solve and wash off the paint or ink used by van­dals. The per­for­mance of the coat­ing is only af­fected af­ter many cy­cles of graf­fiti re­moval.

Rigby stated that some of the lat­est re­search in­volved ‘nano coat­ings.’ “Most sur­faces are por­ous at the mi­cro­scopic level so graf­fiti can leach rel­a­tively deeply into a sur­face layer,” he added. “The ma­te­rial of a nano coat­ing fills in all the tiny holes to cre­ate an es­sen­tially smooth, seam­less sur­face that the ink or paint can­not pen­e­trate.”

Lo­cal coun­cils and pub­lic trans­port au­thor­i­ties are most likely to seek ad­vice from con­sul­tan­cies such as Rem­edy. Rolling stock for trains, trams and busses usu­ally have a strong, non­sac­ri­fi­cial polyurethane coat­ing that can be cleaned rel­a­tively quickly.

C&P2015 in Ade­laide was a worth­while event for Rigby. “Cor­ro­sion crosses a range of dis­ci­plines and the con­fer­ence at­tracted a good mix of peo­ple in­clud­ing en­gi­neers and ex­perts in ad­di­tion to as­set own­ers and man­agers,” he said.

In the con­tin­u­ing ef­forts to min­imise the im­pact of cor­ro­sion, new ma­te­ri­als are be­ing de­vel­oped to build struc­tures and pro­ce­dures im­ple­mented that have been de­signed to pro­tect both new and ex­ist­ing fa­cil­i­ties.

In­fra­corr Con­sult­ing, a na­tional en­gi­neer­ing com­pany, has been work­ing on a pro­ject where PVC sheet pil­ing has been used in the build­ing of new wharf fa­cil­i­ties. The poly­mer ma­te­rial was adopted to mit­i­gate the fu­ture risk of ac­cel­er­ated low wa­ter cor­ro­sion, a mi­cro­bially in­duced cor­ro­sion mech­a­nism with re­ported cor­ro­sion rates in ex­cess of one mm of ma­te­rial per year. En­gi­neer­ing Man­ager at In­fra­corr Con­sult­ing, Dean Fer­gu­son, stated that there were ex­am­ples of poly­mers be­ing used in Amer­ica and Asia, but the pro­ject he had been in­volved

with in Mel­bourne was the first of its kind in Aus­tralia.

Some of the fac­tors that should to be con­sid­ered when choos­ing poly­mers were pre­sented by Fer­gu­son at C&P2015. The iden­ti­fied fac­tors in­cluded struc­tural prop­er­ties such as the strength and stiff­ness of the ma­te­rial, and dura­bil­ity fac­tors such as UV re­sis­tance and ‘creep,’ which is de­fined as de­for­ma­tion un­der con­stant load. Other en­vi­ron­men­tal fac­tors in­clude the ef­fect of mois­ture or im­mer­sion, in ad­di­tion to the ma­te­rial’s re­sponse to chem­i­cals and sol­vents.

Ways to mit­i­gate th­ese fac­tors in­clude re­strict­ing the de­sign load on the ma­te­rial and to in­clude UV sta­bilis­ers in the poly­mer mix.

Aus­tralian re­searchers from UNSW and Monash Univer­sity re­cently re­ported the dis­cov­ery of a mag­ne­sium-lithium al­loy that is an ex­tremely light-weight, high-strength al­loy that forms a pro­tec­tive layer of car­bon­ate-rich film on ex­po­sure to air, mak­ing it far less prone to cor­ro­sion.

Cor­ro­sion can be thought of as dull or un­in­ter­est­ing, but Dr Robert Fran­cis’ key­note ad­dress – the PF Thom­son Me­mo­rial Lecture – was punc­tu­ated by the clas­sic rock an­them “Smoke on the Wa­ter” by Deep Pur­ple with Dr Fran­cis “play­ing” the dif­fer­ent con­cen­tra­tions of var­i­ous cor­ro­sion so­lu­tions. The PF Thom­son Me­mo­rial Lecture has been de­liv­ered at ev­ery C&P Con­fer­ence since 1951. Dr Fran­cis’ lecture pre­sented the lat­est re­search into gal­vanic cor­ro­sion and pro­tec­tion.

The ACA works with in­dus­try and academia to re­search all aspects of cor­ro­sion in or­der to pro­vide an ex­ten­sive knowl­edge base that sup­ports best prac­tice in cor­ro­sion man­age­ment, thereby en­sur­ing all im­pacts of cor­ro­sion are re­spon­si­bly man­aged, the en­vi­ron­ment is pro­tected, pub­lic safety en­hanced and economies im­proved.

Next year, the ACA will be­ing say­ing “Haere mai” to del­e­gates at­tend­ing Cor­ro­sion & Preven­tion 2016 when the con­fer­ence re­turns to New Zealand to be staged in Auck­land’s Sky City Con­ven­tion Cen­tre 13–16 Novem­ber 2016. As al­ways, the con­fer­ence will be the premier cor­ro­sion event in the Asia Pa­cific re­gion and will fea­ture a pro­gram of key­note speak­ers and tech­ni­cal pre­sen­ta­tions.

For those of you feel­ing nos­tal­gic and those of you who have no idea who or what Deep Pur­ple is or was – “Smoke on the Wa­ter”.

Queen Vic­to­ria be­fore and af­ter in Al­bert Park Auck­land. Pic­ture – Liz Yuda, archi­fact – ar­chi­tec­ture & con­ser­va­tion ltd.

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