Artificial intelligence will be employed on a project in Australia to monitor and point to repairs for aging port structures subjected to saltwater corrosion. Curtin University corrosion researchers are leading the project, which aims to develop an AI decision-making tool to identify high-risk areas needing attention.



The joint project, led by the Curtin Corrosion Centre, has received funding from SmartCrete CRC to deploy the new monitoring tool and to look at better ways to repair ageing marine structures built with commonly used engineering materials such as reinforced concrete.

Lead researcher Dr Mobin Salasi, from the Curtin Corrosion Centre, said marine structures commonly corrode due to their exposure to harsh conditions, including the salt water ‘splash zone’ where the movement of water plus high levels of oxygen and chlorides induce the perfect corrosive environment.

“Each year, 30 billion tonnes of concrete are used for construction, and some of the structures subject to harsh conditions, such as the ocean, which can have a significant impact on their strength and capability to last,” Dr Salasi said.

“The cost of corrosion-related infrastructure in Australia is currently estimated to be $8 billion and can lead to loss of functionality, high maintenance costs, and in rare extreme situations, catastrophic failures causing injuries. All of these factors mean regular inspections and maintenance are important preventative measures.

“This project will address the problem from two fronts – monitoring and repair. Concrete corrosion is a complex multifactorial phenomenon, so the team will develop a new AI-based decision-making tool that will be fed data and images on the marine structures and then the algorithm will produce reports of high-risk areas for the Port authorities, so the maintenance strategies can be scheduled.

We will also look at a better repair solution to lengthen the life and extend the inspection interval for these structures.”

Professor Mariano Iannuzzi, Director of the Curtin Corrosion Centre, said this is an exciting opportunity for researchers from multiple organisations to come together to find better solutions for a common problem in the construction industry.