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Major interdiciplinary grant to Assoc Prof Federico Lauro for study on microbes causing deep sea corrosion

03 Sep 2019

Congratulations to Assoc Prof Federico Lauro for winning the NRF-CRP grant!  The NRF-CRP, or National Research Foundation Competitive Research Programme, offers funding for research programs up to 5 years. It seeks to foster the formation of multi-disciplinary teams to conduct cutting-edge research projects that are of relevance to Singapore and the society. The current project, titled ‘Unlocking the secrets of microbially influenced corrosion: From detection to control mechanisms’, has 4 principal investigators; Federico Lauro (ASE), Scott Rice (SCELSE), Matteo Seita (MAE with a courtesy appointment at ASE) and Dan Blackwood (NUS).

All man-made infrastructure is subject to attack by microorganisms. This is particularly true for metal surfaces in the marine environment, such as oil and gas pipelines and off-shore platforms that corrode in part due to microbial action. Humans are pushing the extreme boundaries of exploration in search of new sources of energy or to deploy critical infrastructure, such as cabling networks, and as a result, there is considerable focus on the deep sea (i.e. 2000 meters and below). These unique environments are characterized by extremes of pressure and nutrient limitation. Due to the challenges of access to these sites, little is known about the organisms that inhabit these depths and even less is known about how they might influence corrosion of expensive and sensitive infrastructure. We are combining the scientific expertise of microbiologists, metallurgists, materials scientists and data modelers to unveil the mysteries of how microorganisms from these unique habitats cause corrosion, with the view to develop strategies to protect sensitive and susceptible infrastructure.