Into Deep-sea Pipelines and Material Science
Hi! My name is Melissa and I’m currently in the second year of my PhD at the University of Manchester. I am in the School of Materials, and my research focusses on the corrosion of nickel-alloys that are used in deep-sea oil pipelines.
I didn’t expect to end up doing a PhD, but this is where my journey has taken me.
How I got here
Going into college, I had not a clue what I wanted to do, so for my A-levels I picked to do Maths, Science and English, and randomly picking Chemistry as my science as I thought it has the most potential to be interesting. And it certainly turned out to be true! I absolutely loved chemistry and decided to carry on studying it at University.
So I did a 4 year integrated Master’s degree in chemistry at the University of Manchester. I learnt so much, not only about Chemistry but about myself as well. It had ignited my passion for science, and that passion is something I want to share with as many people as I can, so I do lots and lots of outreach activities.
As my degree came to an end, I knew another decision was looming; what was I going to do next? I knew I wanted to carry on learning, so decided a PhD would be my best opportunity. I was overwhelmed with the variety of PhDs that were available to me. Everything from how bubbles work to building new telescopes to look at the planets.
Whilst doing my research in to what I wanted to go into for my PhD, I came across the Centre for Doctoral Training in Advanced Metallic Systems. This programme was designed to take anyone from any STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subject and give them a year’s training in Materials Science for them to then pick a PhD project from a selection offered. Well perfect, I thought! This was a chance to learn about a brand new subject, and then do a PhD as well. So this is what I did, and here I am now! And I found the perfect PhD project for me. It perfectly marries what I had learnt in my Chemistry degree, with my new knowledge of Materials Science.
So why is the corrosion of Nickel-alloys so important? Corrosion costs the oil and gas industry about $1372 billion every year – so a pretty expensive problem. And these Ni-alloys are used as nuts and bolts in what we call a well-head, and it’s the well-head’s job to maintain the pressure in the pipeline. Herein lies the problem; these pipelines can be up to 5000m below sea level. Therefore it’s really important to understand how and when these alloys are likely to corrode, so we can better predict their lifetimes, and prevent any failures in the pipeline.
When I started this journey, way back on GCSE results day, I didn’t know where I would end up, and I still don’t. I’m just doing what makes me happy and enjoying the ride!
If you want to find out more about the Corrosion research at Manchester you can do so here.
The EPS Outreach Website has lots of details on the different types of work we do with schools and the general public.
And if you would like to know more about what Materials Science is, Strange Matter is a great website.