Hailing from Geelong in Victoria, Ivi Cicak graduated with first-class honours in Mechanical Engineering from Deakin University. He spoke to The Australian Pipeliner about how he became an aficionado in stress corrosion cracking, and his work with the Energy Pipelines Cooperative Research Centre.
Tell us how you became interested in pipelines?
I was born and raised in Geelong and am currently live less than 1km from the house I grew up in.
After graduating from high school I continued my studies at Deakin University at the Waurn Ponds campus, where I graduated with a first class honours degree in mechanical engineering and science degree majoring in mathematics.
I spent one year working in the automotive industry but quickly found myself back at Deakin University, this time working in the Geelong Technology Precinct on the development of diffusion based coatings on steels using fluidised bed reactors.
I subsequently went on to complete a Masters in the field of chromium nitride coating using fluidised bed reactors.
More recently I have become involved with the Energy Pipelines CRC in working on stress corrosion cracking of energy pipelines, as well as managing the National Facility for Pipeline Coating Assessment (NFPCA).
In total I have spent 15 years to date as both a Deakin student and employee.
How did you become involved in Australian pipeline industry research?
It was only in the past year and a half that I became involved in research associated with the Australian pipeline industry.
Prior to becoming involved with the Energy Pipelines Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) my main research area was associated with metal diffusion/deposition based coatings on both ferrous and non-ferrous components for improving wear and corrosion resistance of components using fluidised bed reactors.
Having focused on improving the surface properties of metals and steels led to a project with the Energy Pipelines CRC on stress corrosion cracking (SCC) of gas pipelines.
The SCC project specifically investigated high pH SCC in relation to different pipe surface conditions such as those with mill scale and grit blasted surfaces.
What does you project focus on?
The initial phase of the stress corrosion cracking project looked at various surface conditions prior to coating which could influence SCC, some of surface conditions included mill scale, grit blasting and surface which had been “˜seasoned’ due to sitting out in the atmosphere.
The different surface conditions were all characterised microstructurally and further assessed in terms of their resistance to SCC via threshold stress tests, which involved applying a cyclic loading regime to the samples while immersed in an electrolyte under a certain potential.
Post analysis of the samples involved recording the number and depth of cracks which can be used to assess the samples resistance/susceptibility to SCC.
Some of the positive outcomes associated with the SCC project include a comparison of the resistance of the various surface conditions as well as how cracks initiate, and the results should provide the pipeline industry with some valuable information in regards to surface conditions which offer improved SCC resistance.
The second phase of the SCC project will be to propose new and improved surface conditions which can offer increased SCC resistance and for greater periods of time.
What are your areas of expertise which are developed from this research?
The involvement with the EPCRC on this SCC project has developed my knowledge and expertise in how surface conditions of a pipeline can influence SCC.
Understanding the standard practices in preparing a pipeline prior to coating has been paramount to assessing how current pipelines perform against SCC.
Similarly understanding the pipe forming process, the residual stresses, and pressure fluctuations is necessary to be able replicate as closely as possible conditions which are found out in the field.
Deakin University has a large repertoire of scientific equipment which I have taken advantage of in characterising the surface of samples before and after SCC tests.
Why is this sort of research necessary in the Australian pipeline industry?
SCC has been an issue in Australian pipelines and around the globe, thus it’s imperative to minimise the risk of failures occurring which lead to both devastating consequences on many fronts.
Although pipeline surface preparation methods have a come a long way, it’s necessary to understand the mechanisms of failure and susceptibility of such surface preparation methods.
What research programs are you currently involved with?
Recently I have become involved with the National Facility for Pipeline Coating and Assessment (NFPCA) which was an Energy Pipelines CRC initiative situated at Deakin University.
The coating and assessment facility is available for the Australian pipeline industry to assess their coatings and application methods to ensure the quality of their coatings and workmanship.
The facility offers a range of pipeline coating testing for commercial and independent testing for coating manufacturers, suppliers and applicators in the Australian pipeline industry.
Have you been involved in any practical applications of your research?
I have made several field trips to some of the grit blasting applicators to get an understanding of the surface preparation methods of pipelines and at the various grit media used to achieve specifications.
One area of our research looked at the residual stress induced by different grit blasting media which can be beneficial towards SCC resistance.
Are you looking to further develop your broader knowledge in the industry?
The first phase of the SCC project is complete and we are hoping to begin a second phase which looks at new techniques and methods to improving SCC resistance of pipelines.
To further broaden my knowledge on SCC of pipelines I am going on a field trip this year to see it firsthand, which I’m sure will be fruitful in seeing the bigger picture at how the different conditions and factors initiate SCC.
What are your interests outside of the research and development in the industry?
Outside of research and development associated with energy pipelines, I enjoy being involved in other research programs within the Institute for Frontier Materials which allows me to broaden my knowledge and skillset.
I like to be hands-on with projects and take any opportunity I can to learn new testing methods or training on instrumentation.
I also enjoy a challenge which is probably why I play a lot of chess!