Education and Outreach

Turbine Design and Operation

Sulfide-Induced Corrosion Research

Led by Vivian Merk, Ph.D.
Affiliated Home Campus:Boca Raton
Affiliated Department: Chemistry and Biochemistry / Ocean and Mechanical Engineering
In-Person or Remote project


Offshore wind, tides, ocean currents, waves, or salinity gradients present immense potential for clean energy generation. Yet, there are key challenges to be addressed in the development of marine renewable energy technologies. One emerging environmental problem in the marine industry is sulfide-induced corrosion and biofilm formation, which compromise the structural integrity and reliability of offshore facilities. Sulfidic waters are common in deep basins, for instance in the Baltic and Black Sea, since oxygen is depleted in benthic waters in contact with sediments. Harmful microalgal blooms or Red Tides, as observed along the West Florida coast in 2018, are accompanied by anoxic conditions and elevated sulfide levels, probably caused by excess sediment microbial respiration stimulated by the deposition of dead organismal food sources. This REU project will investigate the fundamental mechanisms of sulfide-induced corrosion by incubating steel elements in hydrogen sulfide-amended seawater. The undergraduate researcher will explore the chemical, morphological, and mechanical changes in corroded steel using light microscopy, in situ Raman microscopy and Atomic Force Microscopy. Raman spectroscopy is a powerful tool for monitoring the formation of corrosion products. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) will be used to image surface topographies down to the nanometer scale. Mechanistic insights will help us develop effective corrosion protection measures that extend the service lifetime of marine structures and reduce costs for maintenance and replacement. On-campus research will be carried out in Dr. Vivian Merk’s lab at FAU in Boca Raton in cooperation with Dr. Jordon Beckler at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute. Under Covid-19 restrictions, student research may be conducted entirely remotely. Virtual research activities will involve advanced data analysis and literature research.

HBOI ocean fish