Corrosion plagues modern machinery and bridges at a cost of billions of dollars.

According to a study conducted by NACE International, The Corrosion Society, from 1999 to 2001, the annual estimated cost of corrosion affecting the aircraft industry, the automotive industry, bridge reconstruction, the United States Coast Guard and the gas pipeline industry in the United States is a staggering $276 billion.

Aldo Romero, West Virginia University associate professor of physics, has been published in the July 26 issue of Science magazine for his research aimed at discovering how corrosion occurs and ultimately new ways to prevent it.

“Science and Nature (magazines) are the most important journals in science,” Romero said. “It’s a great accomplishment of my career.”

Romero is working as part of a collaborative effort of research groups in Mexico, Spain and the United States, led by the German research group at the Max-Planck-Institut f�r Eisenforschung.

The Max-Planck-Institut f�r Eisenforschung is funded annually by the German National Science Foundation and can use the support on any research area related to steel, while the research groups in Mexico, Spain and the United States have specific limitations for how their funding can be spent.

Romero’s research uses atom probe tomography to examine how corrosion affects a material at an atomic level for a material resembling stainless steel. The atomic positions and chemical composition are mapped for a given sample, using a 3D projection.

Once the atoms are mapped, Romero determines how the atoms are spatially arranged and correlates the presence of nano structures to environmental changes, such as temperature.

“There are regimes where temperature really improved the quality of the material, (creating) a much better corrosion resistance,” Romero said.

The first step of the project, discovering how corrosion works, is nearly complete, Romero said. The focus of the project is now shifting to finding new ways to prevent corrosion.

Romero has been at West Virginia University since January, and brought his research with him from Mexico.

For more information, contact Aldo Romero, at 304-293-6317 or



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