Award Recognizes Development of an Anti-Corrosion Coating for Aerospace Aluminum Alloys

NACE International has bestowed the 2020 A. B. Campbell Award to Raymond Santucci, who earned his Ph.D. in materials science and engineering from the University of Virginia in 2019. NACE International is a member-driven organization that equips society to protect people, assets and the environment from the adverse effects of corrosion. The A.B. Campbell annual award recognizes one outstanding CORROSION Journal paper first-authored by an early career specialist.

Santucci’s paper presents research in anti-corrosive coatings for aerospace applications. With his advisor John R. Scully and fellow Ph.D. student Balaji Kannan, Santucci investigated the corrosion protection mechanism of magnesium-based systems; Scully and Kannan also co-authored the winning paper. Scully is the Charles Henderson Chaired Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and department chair; he is also and co-director of UVA’s Center for Electrochemical Science and Engineering.

The center’s research team developed an accelerated testing regimen to produce a “first-take” baseline of coating behavior. The team discovered that both magnesium and magnesium oxide coatings established an electrode potential to protect the aluminum alloy from corrosion.

“Our research informs consideration of magnesium-based coatings as a safe and reliable alternative to existing coating technologies, which are hazardous,” Santucci said. “Observations of field exposure indicated that magnesium and magnesium oxide formulations provide protection, but we couldn’t explain precisely why.” 

Corrosion Journal’s publication of “Electrochemical Diagnostic Cycle Testing of Magnesium and Magnesium Oxide-Pigmented Primers on AA2024-T351” was a turning point for Santucci. “It motivated further investigation and led to a hypothesized mechanism of protection that I tested and refined throughout my dissertation research,” Santucci said. Santucci discovered that the dissolution of magnesium produces a pH effect that in turn controls the electrochemical corrosion reaction between the coating and the alloy.

Santucci defended his dissertation in March 2019. He continues to research and teach corrosion science and engineering as an assistant research professor at the United States Naval Academy. Santucci’s research continues a tradition of excellence in corrosion research at UVA Engineering. Scully and Robert G. Kelly, AT&T Professor of Engineering and professor of materials science and engineering, are also A. B. Campbell award recipients.