Marine Corrosion Laboratory

The Marine Corrosion Laboratory is a unique facility for research, development, testing & evaluation (RDT&E) in the field of marine corrosion. This lab is an integral part of Makai’s larger Ocean Energy Research Center.

The Research:
Since 2009, Makai has invested millions of dollars in capabilities at this facility for extensive RDT&E on marine engineering and coatings technologies. We provide unique laboratory services in materials testing for the U.S. Navy and industrial clients.

Corrosion Samples
Corrosion Coupon Images

Aluminum corrodes in two ways: uniform corrosion and localized (pitting) corrosion. Uniform corrosion is a relatively slow reduction in metal distributed across the entire surface in contact with seawater, much like one sees on a rusting steel plate exposed to a mild marine environment. Pitting corrosion, in contrast, is an unpredictable, sudden and rapid attack of the metal at a single point on its surface.


Biofouled Tube
Makai provides extensive research in corrosion and biofouling mitigation.

Makai provides two types of support: providing research services as the principal investigator; or supporting client-led experiments at our lab.
Our RDT&E support includes:

  • Material exposure testing
  • Biofouling mitigation
  • Antifouling/marine coatings development
  • Marine alloy evaluation
  • Heat exchanger design and performance testing
  • Materials characterization (cost-savings and life-cycle management)


Automated Corrosion Measurement System
Intake pipes reach depths of 25m to 915m (80ft to 3,000ft) with seawater temperatures ranging from 4°C to 27°C (39°F to 81°F).

The Facilities:
Located in Kona, on the Island of Hawaii, this unique facility is ideally suited for marine-related materials evaluation due to its pollution-free, non-estuarine environment, stable tropical climate throughout the year. Deep and surface seawater is pumped to the facility from some of the world’s largest and deepest seawater intake pipelines, providing direct access to the corrosive environments experienced by offshore vessels and equipment.

Time-lapse of Pitting Corrosion and Bacterial Growth

       Automated Corrosion Measurement System
       Makai’s Automated Corrosion Measurement System takes multi-resolution imagery of corrosion
       samples in order to provide real-time data for our remote clients.

The Equipment & Measurements:
Makai uses traditional and novel methods to measure corrosion rates. Unique to Makai’s lab is a state-of-the-art Automated Corrosion Measurement System (ACMS). This system takes long-term measurements of corrosion samples non-destructively and continuously while in-situ – without removing them from the rack. Implementing an automated pit recognition routine is possible with Makai’s image recognition software capabilities. Clients can monitor hundreds of samples remotely (over the web) and efficiently, reducing human error, travel time, and labor cost.

In addition to the ACMS, the partial list below describes the equipment that Makai currently employs for our clients:

  • High resolution cameras
           Corrosion Mapping
           The surface of a corrosion coupon sample is mapped with a high resolution profilometer, showing
           the diameter and depths of distinct pits.
    • Wide-field camera: 27µm pixels (69mm x 52mm FOV)
    • Narrow-field camera: 0.4µm pixels (1.0mm x 0.75mm FOV)
  • Imaging software
    • Stitches together high-res images
    • View multi-resolution images over the web
    • Pit recognition possible
  • Ultrasonic testing
    • Resolution: 25 µm X-Y, 1 µm Z
    • Image flaw-detector w/ transducer
    • Scans weekly until onset of corrosion, then frequency adjusted.
  • 3D Laser profilometry (pictured)
    • Resolution: 5µm X-Y / 1µm Z
    • CCS Prima® manufactured by Nanovea
    • Custom motorized X-Y stage
    • Custom software processes results to provide pit concentration, pitted area, and pit depth
  • Electrochemistry
    • Linear Polarization Resistance assessments
    • Open circuit potential with state-of-the-art Gamry equipment
  • Weight loss
  • Water chemistry
    • pH
    • Dissolved oxygen
    • Temperature
    • Salinity
    • Oxidation-reduction potential