Miljkovic to study new surface coatings for petroleum industry

07/20/2016
 
Assistant Professor Nenad Miljkovic recently received a two-year Petroleum Research Fund Doctoral New Investigator Award from the American Chemical Society
 
Using advanced nanometric resolution scanning probe microscopy (SPM) techniques, Miljkovic will identify the fundamental mechanisms on engineered surfaces that govern fouling, corrosion, and degradation of hydrophobic and oleophobic coatings to develop next-generation coatings. 
 
“Currently, degradation mechanisms are thought to depend on the exterior conditions, the coating material, and the manufacturing technique,” said Miljkovic. 
 
He and his research group, the Energy Transport Research Lab, will study in-situ and ex-situ calcium sulfate (CaSO4) scale-formation, and aqueous hydrogen sulfide (H2S(aq)) corrosion on smooth hydrophobic polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) coatings, and silicon oil based lubricant infused surfaces (LIS) on steel substrates. 
 
“We’re looking at the connection between fouling/corrosion and surface degradation mechanisms governed by changes in coating defect density, surface morphology, and surface chemistry in order to understand the mechanisms and rates at the nanoscale. We’ll develop a mechanistic understanding of fouling, corrosion, and its interplay with coating degradation, and define guidelines for the development of more robust coatings,” he said.
 
Heterogeneous nucleation rate as a function of substrate-precipitate surface energy, for varying nucleation site density. Low surface energy (hydrophobic) and smooth (liquid infused) surfaces are optimum for anti-fouling and corrosion applications.
Heterogeneous nucleation rate as a function of substrate-precipitate surface energy, for varying nucleation site density. Low surface energy (hydrophobic) and smooth (liquid infused) surfaces are optimum for anti-fouling and corrosion applications.
The impact of this research is widespread. Hydrophobic and oleophobic coatings have the potential to fundamentally advance technologies used in the petroleum industry. Their unique properties offer performance enhancements for corrosion resistance and anti-scaling in applications where asphaltene, clathrate-hydrates, and other organic and inorganic precipitates can form. However, they need to be robust enough to withstand the mechanical, thermal, and chemical erosion conditions typically seen in these applications—and their current use has been limited because of their low durability. 
 
Yet Miljkovic said little is known about their degradation mechanisms, and therefore, minimal guidance exists for the design of potentially game-changing next-generation coatings. 
 
“Our work will provide essential guidelines for designing next-generation robust coatings for petroleum technologies,” he said. 
 
Miljkovic received his BS in mechanical engineering from the University of Waterloo in 2009, and an MS and PhD in mechanical engineering from MIT in 2011 and 2013. He became an assistant professor in MechSE in 2014. 
 
His research spans the fields of thermo-fluid sciences, interfacial phenomena, and renewable energy. He aims to bring about transformational efficiency enhancements in energy, water, agriculture, transportation, and electronics cooling by fundamentally manipulating heat-fluid-surface interactions across multiple length and time scales.