What does your role entail and what does your company/Institution’s department do?

Corrosion Testing

I manage all of Ausgrid’s electrolysis corrosion responsibilities which include testing and analysis of interference from corrosion protection systems throughout the Sydney, Central Coast and Hunter Regions. Since Ausgrid is the local Energy provider, we have numerous underground assets (cables, substations and earthing systems) that are critical to the electrical supply for Sydney CBD and vulnerable to affects from electrolysis corrosion.

What has been your favourite corrosion project that you have worked on and why?

Currently, the design and construction phases of Sydney CBD & SE Light Rail project has been very interesting and challenging particularly with a section of the route running down the middle of George St Sydney.
We’ve been heavily involved in reviewing and influencing designs in conjunction with the NSW Electrolysis Committee with the aim of minimising and managing the risks from electrolysis corrosion caused by DC traction systems. One complicating factor is the dynamic nature of stray current paths when considering the presence of four other existing and proposed traction systems and numerous corrosion protection systems all of which are interacting with any buried conductive structures within the zone of influence. We had one instance where baseline testing revealed some of Ausgrid’s assets were exposed to excessive stray current effects in the CBD zone and had to be resolved to allow some headroom for  possible stray current effects from the new CBD&SE LR.  It was found that defective rail insulation on the existing heavy rail at a location some 20km away was transferring stray current to the CBD through the interconnected electrical and water supply networks.

What are the important corrosion related issues facing industry today?

Corrosion TestingIndustry workforce is transitioning from long term employment that produces company experts with extensive experience to short term, casual or consulting positions. A company’s challenge is to retain and build their intellectual knowledge so that best and improved practices for corrosion avoidance/mitigation are used. Where this knowledge is insufficient, asset integrity is compromised and associated maintenance or replacement costs increase. However, these costs are easily attributed to unforeseen corrosion rather than poor corrosion prevention work/design practices. This is where the ACA plays a big role for industry by providing the networking between multiple knowledge bases.

Why are you a member of the ACA?

Firstly, I need the accreditation to perform my role in testing and signing off on corrosion interference analysis from corrosion protection systems. In addition to this, ACA membership provides heaps of opportunities for training, access to knowledge, resourcing material and networking with members from numerous and varied corrosion related fields.

Name – Jim Hickey

Company – Ausgrid

Position – Electrolysis Engineering Officer


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