Category Archives: Cathodic Protection

Enerfin Joins Growing List of Satisfied Durammo® Deep Anode System Users

Josh Johnston, MATCOR’s director of sales, wanted to share a recent conversion of a new customer to the growing list of satisfied Durammo Deep Anode System users.  As Josh explained, “the Durammo is a salesman’s dream product. It offers our customers an innovative product that has an amazing track record. Its design makes it safer and easier to install because it comes preassembled ready to immediately lower down the hole.”

Durammo Deep Anode System Installation

A complete description of the Durammo deep anode system is available here.

As Josh continued, “The hardest part about selling the Durammo, is that it is different than what they have used and what others are offering. There is a certain leap of faith that we ask customers to take when trying something different. I can explain to them that it is less expensive, has a longer operating life, is safer and easier to install, that several thousands of these are installed across the country and around the world, some with more than 20 years in service. It all sounds great, but it is different. That is my job, to convince people to do something different.”

One such company is Enerfin Resources Company, a midstream company operating natural gas and crude oil field services assets in Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana. MATCOR met with them in the Fall of 2019 and explained to the Enerfin team the benefits of the Durammo deep anode system. As Josh noted, “Enerfin was willing to try this “new to them” technology, based on the value we offered.”

In March, MATCOR installed three of the Durammo systems for Enerfin. Tony Gustin, Project Development & Construction Manager noted, “the installation of these systems was very professional and the factory assembled system dropped in place as easy as advertised. We are sold on this product and look forward to using MATCOR and the Durammo system on many future projects.”


If you are ready to try something better, but different for your next deep anode system project, contact MATCOR and we would be happy to help you take the next step.

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Does Cathodic Protection Cause a Tank Bottom to Dry Out?

Does Cathodic Protection Dry the Tank Bottom?
Will your CP System dry out the sand bedding of your tanks?

A client recently raised the concern about the cathodic protection reaction causing a drying out of the sand under a large diameter above ground storage tank.  This is a very interesting question.  We recently developed a stoichiometric analysis to assess the cathodic protection carbon footprint of a deep anode system by calculating the amount of carbon dioxide produced. The same methodology can be used to assess the risk of drying out of the tank bottom.

Assumptions

For this analysis, let’s assume a typical 150 ft diameter above ground storage tank with a bare tank bottom and a 1-foot sand bed resting atop a non-permeable liner.  Based on a common design criteria of 2 mA/ft2 of bare surface area, this tank would nominally require a total of 17.7 amperes of current. 

How much water does a cathodic protection system consume?

For every 2 electrons generated, one H2O molecule is required.  One amp-year is equal to 3.1536 x 107 amp seconds or coulombs.  One Faraday or 96.487 coulombs is equal to one mole of electrons therefore, one amp-year is equal to 326.84 moles of electrons.  With the 2 to 1 ratio of electrons to H2O molecules that means that for every mole of electrons, 0.50 moles of H2O are generated.  H2O has a molar mass of 18.0 g/mol so for each amp year a total mass of 2,941.6 grams of H2O is generated – that is approximately 0.78 gallons of water per amp year. 

For our 17.7 ampere, 150 ft diameter tank anode system, that would mean 13.8 gallons of water is consumed as part of the cathodic protection reaction each year.  Assuming that there is no new water being added into the tank foundation (a perfect chime seal and a completely non-permeable liner), then over a 30-year operating life the CP system would consume a little more than 400 gallons of water. While that might seem like a lot of water consumption, what is the percentage of drying out that is occurring with the sand over that time frame?

Will the Tank Bottom Dry Out?

Well, typical sand has a bulk density of approximately 100 lb/cubic foot and the typical moisture content for commercial sand is between 2% and 6%.  For purposes of this exercise, let’s assume that the moisture content is on the low end at 2%.  This means that there are approximately 2 lbs of sand per cubic foot.  A 150 ft diameter tank has 17,671 cubic feet of sand bedding which equates to 35,342 lbs of water or about 4,241 gallons of water.  So, if no new water is added over the thirty-year operating life, the typical CP system will consume about 10% of the sand moisture for very dry sand.  

Conclusion

Given our assumptions and calculations, it does not appear that significant sand drying will occur due to water consumption.

Another Consideration: Electro-osmotic Drying

This analysis does not consider the effect known as electro-osmosis.  Electro-osmotic drying is a process that is used in the civil engineering world to dewater sludges by creating a DC electrical flow – the flow of electrons pulls polar water molecules away from the anode.  For CP applications, this is generally not considered to have a significant impact except where there are very high current densities at the anode – for example some deep anode systems operating at very high output rates in certain soil formations. For tanks, this is not considered an issue.


If you have other technical questions, or for information on MATCOR’s above ground storage tank cathodic protection solutions, please contact us at the link below.

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What is the Carbon Footprint of Deep Anode Systems?

This article explores the carbon footprint of cathodic protection deep anode systems and compares it to that of a typical passenger car.

Deep Anode Systems

Deep Anode Systems are commonly used throughout the CP industry as a cost-effective means to discharge significant amounts of current to protect pipelines over long distances or large structures in a small area. One of the common components in a deep anode system design is the vent pipe. 

Durammo® Deep Anode System

The deep anode system vent pipe serves two important related functions:

  • To prevent gas blockage that will impede the operation of the anode system
  • Prevents the accumulation of chlorine concentrations where chlorides are available

Both issues are directly related to the electro-chemical reactions that occur at the anode to coke backfill, and coke backfill to earth interfaces. 

There are two basic types of anodes used in deep anode systems—conventional “massive” anodes, and dimensionally stable anodes.

The conventional “massive” anodes are those anodes that consume as part of the electro-chemical reaction and as such their mass is critical in determining the system’s performance life. The dimensionally stable anodes, typically Mixed Metal Oxide (MMO), are catalytic in nature and do not consume as part of the anodic reaction.

Cathodic Protection Reactions

The primary cathodic protection reactions all involve generating gas:

mmo-anode-reactions

In a properly functioning deep anode system, the gases that occur from these reactions predominantly involve the coke backfill creating carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide.  If chlorides are present, some percentage of chlorine gas will also be generated. 

The Importance of Venting the Deep Anode System

The gases generated in the coke column typically do not rapidly diffuse into the earth around the coke column and thus will build up. These gases are not electrically conductive and once enough gas builds up around the anode, then the anode can no longer effectively discharge current—a phenomenon known as gas blockage. If Chlorides are present, the chlorine gas reacts with water to create hydrochloric and hypochlorous acids that can attack the cable insulation and cause permanent damage. This is why it is important to properly vent these gases that are a part of the electro-chemical reaction that must occur for CP to function.

MATCOR’s SuperVent™ deep anode venting system ships in a continuous piece.

What’s the Carbon Footprint?

Given that deep anode systems generate gas, an interesting, although not commonly asked question, is how much carbon dioxide a typical deep anode system generates—in other words, what is the carbon footprint of a deep anode cathodic protection system.

With a few worst-case assumptions and a little stoichiometric chemistry analysis we can answer this question. Assuming all the reactions are generating carbon dioxide and there is no oxygen generation, then for every 4 electrons generated, one CO2 molecule is generated.

One amp-year is equal to 3.1536 x 107 amp seconds or coulombs. One Faraday or 96.487 coulombs is equal to one mole of electrons, therefore, one amp-year is equal to 326.84 moles of electrons. With the 4 to 1 ratio of electrons to CO2, that means that for every mole of electrons, 0.25 moles of CO2 are generated. CO2 has a molar mass of 44.01 g/mol, so for each amp year a total mass of 3,596 grams of CO2 is generated.

For a nominal 50 amp anode system, that would mean a maximum generation of 180 kg of CO2 per year if CO2 was the only gas generated.

How much CO2 is 180 kg/year?

The EPA estimates that the typical passenger vehicle generates 4,600 kg of CO2 per year.

Therefore, your 50 amp deep anode system generates about 4%—or just 1/25th—of what a typical passenger car generates annually.


If you have other technical questions, or for information on MATCOR’s deep anode cathodic protection solutions, please contact us at the link below.

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Impressed Current Sled Anodes for Marine Structures – FAQs

Impressed current sled anodes to prevent corrosion of near shore marine structures such as docs, piers and jetties.
Impressed Current Sled Anode for Marine Structures

MATCOR is a leading manufacturer of impressed current sled anode systems and as such we tend to get asked a lot of questions about sled anodes.  Here are some frequently asked questions:

Does it matter whether sled anodes are to be installed in seawater, brackish water or freshwater?  What if the water salinity varies with the season or with tidal action?

These are two related questions, and both have to do with the conductivity (or resistivity which is merely the inverse of conductivity) of the water where the anodes will be located.  The conductivity of the water plays a critical role in determining the overall system resistance and current output of the system.  For freshwater locations, the relatively low water conductivity requires a significant quantity of anodes to keep the overall system resistance down.  In those instances, a sled anode may not be the best design option as sled anodes are most cost effective in brackish or saltwater environments. For environments where the conductivity can vary seasonally or with the tides, such as estuaries or tidal river boundaries, special consideration may be required such as constant current or auto-potential controlled power supplies.

Why would we use impressed current sled anodes as opposed to galvanic anodes? 

Depending on the application, there are compelling reasons for the use of each type of system. Galvanic anodes do not require an external power supply, are less subject to interference issues, and can be closely coupled directly to the structure. The impressed current sled anodes can greatly simplify installation, reduce overall costs, typically have a longer life, and can produce a lot more current from a lot fewer anodes. The choice of anode type is very much a site-specific consideration requiring a proper engineering evaluation during the design phase.

Are there any specific concerns with marine wildlife when evaluating cathodic protection systems?

Marine wildlife is generally unaffected by the presence of a cathodic protection system. Cathodic protection systems have been used in commercial aquariums and fish hatcheries without any impact on the marine life. At the structure, cathodic protection can result in a localized environment that reduces or inhibits the growth of barnacles while changes in the pH at the structure’s surface encourage the growth of calcareous deposits which reduce the current requirements and provide a form of protective coating for the steel structure.

The MATCOR sled anodes utilize a wooden base – are there any concerns with the deterioration of the wooden base releasing in chunks of wood that could damage intake structures?

We have not experienced any such problems – the wooden base is designed to sink into the mud along the sea floor and provide an anchor.  Wood holds up very well in this environment; however, over time the wood will slowly become food for cellulose processing bacteria and eventually will slowly be degraded. This process is a natural process and occurs over a long period of time.  There is no expectation that the wood base would break into pieces that could damage an intake structure. MATCOR can provide an inert non-metallic plastic base that would be like wood but not subject to natural biodegradation.

How do you protect the cabling from the Sled Anode back to the system rectifier?

MATCOR utilizes an HMWPE cable that has a very robust exterior jacket that is suitable for direct burial in soil or water environments. The cable is housed inside a 1” diameter flexible drilled PE pipe that provides mechanical protection for the cabling. We recommend the use of concrete weights to secure the cable along the seafloor. The drilled PE pipe holes facilitate the cabling sinking into the seafloor mud providing additional protection for the cabling.

What about dredging operations?

For locations that are subject to occasional periodic dredging operations every few years or so, MATCOR can provide a locator float and lifting lugs to allow for the anodes to be removed prior to dredging operations. If the frequency of the dredging operations is such that this would be a regular occurrence (multiple times per year), then consideration should be given to alternate designs that would not require anode removal on regular basis.


For information on MATCOR’s Sea-Bottom Marine Anode Sleds or for assistance with marine near shore cathodic protection system design, please contact us at the link below.

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Rethink Your Shallow Horizontal Anode Bed Design – The Case For Linear Anodes

A common cathodic protection system approach is the use of a shallow horizontal anode bed. These are typically defined as an anode system consisting of a series of multiple individual anodes installed either vertically or horizontally at a depth of less than 15m (50ft) and connected to a single power source. These are particularly effective in areas where drilling deep anode beds is not feasible or practical.

The typical anode used in shallow anode bed applications is an impressed current anode. These can be high silicon cast iron, graphite anodes or mixed metal oxide tubular anodes.  The anodes may be pre-packaged in a canister filled with coke backfill, or they can be installed in a vertically drilled/augured hole or a continuous horizontal trench with backfill installed around the bare anode. The anodes can be installed in parallel to a common header cable or can have individual leads all routed to a cathodic protection junction box and connected in parallel inside the junction box.

Shallow Horizontal Groundbed-Individual Anodes
Shallow Horizontal Anode Bed with Individual Anodes

A New Approach: Continuous Linear Anodes

Another approach that is gaining acceptance in the corrosion industry is the use of a single continuous linear anode as an alternative to multiple individual discreet anodes that are field connected to form an anode bed.  There are several advantages to using a single continuous linear anode to create a shallow horizontal anode bed:

Shallow Horizontal Groundbed-Linear Anodes
Shallow Horizontal Anode Bed with a Single Linear Anode

Advantages of linear anodes for shallow horizontal anode beds

  • Ease of installation
    The use of a single continuous linear anode assembly can significantly reduce installation time by eliminating numerous field splice connections of multiple individual anodes to a header cable.
  • Reliability
    The entire linear anode assembly is factory manufactured and tested with internal factory connections that are more reliable than a field connection.  The assembly is designed with an internal header cable for redundancy and can be manufactured with an integral external return header cable, eliminating all field splicing and connections.
  • HDD Installation
    The use of a linear anode for shallow anode bed design allows for the use of HDD (horizontal directional drilling) to install the continuous anode assembly.  This can significantly minimize the installation footprint and greatly reduce installation time and costs.  This also allows for a deeper installation to facilitate locations where surface activities such as deep tilling farming operations might preclude a shallower anode system installation.
  • Cost Effectiveness
    The use of linear anodes can be extremely cost effective, resulting in a much lower cost installation. This is especially true when considering the overall cost per amp year given the longer design life of mixed metal oxide based linear anode systems.

MATCOR has extensive experience designing and installing shallow horizontal anode beds, including the use of our HDD installation crews and state-of-the-art equipment to minimize surface impact in sensitive areas.


Contact us at the link below to find out if a linear anode cathodic protection system is right for your application.

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Replaceable Anode System Success: A First for Critical Middle East Tank Assets

Last month, MATCOR successfully completed the first ever HDD tank cathodic protection system installation in the Middle East, utilizing a replaceable anode system.

Replaceable Anode System Installation

Background—Initial Recommendation for HDD Cathodic Protection System

Equate Petrochemicals is one of the world’s largest producers of Ethylene Glycol. They initially contacted MATCOR in 2012 to discuss options for cathodic protection on a critical service Ethylene storage tank at their flagship Kuwait petrochemical facility. This tank was originally constructed in 1995, and the initial CP system installed with the tank was no longer providing sufficient current to achieve NACE Criteria. At the time, MATCOR suggested installing anodes directly under the tank using horizontal directional drilling technology. The plant’s engineering and operations team had significant reservations about this approach. The tank was critical to the plant’s operation and could not be taken out of service. Should the HDD operations result in damage to the structural integrity of the tank, the results would be catastrophic.

Perimeter Anodes—An (Unsuccessful) Alternative Approach

As a result of Equate’s concerns in 2012, they attempted an alternate approach, suggested by others, using perimeter anodes. Discreet anodes were installed offset around the perimeter of the tank—thus avoiding any possible risk to the tank during the anode installation. The use of perimeter anodes around larger diameter tanks is generally not a good idea. This is because it is very difficult to drive current to the center area of the tank, often resulting in adequate protection levels only for the outer edges of the tank bottom. For the Ethylene Storage Tank, the presence of heating pipes below the tank bottom only exacerbated the current distribution challenges. Ultimately, the results were not satisfactory.

In 2018, the plant engineering team reached back out to MATCOR to discuss our HDD solutions.

Replaceable Anode System Solution

Replaceable Anode SystemMATCOR provided the plant with a detailed proposal to design and install a complete cathodic protection system using MATCOR’s Replaceable Tank Anode system. The RTA system is based on installing MATCOR SPL linear anode assemblies in a series of parallel slotted PVC pipes that have coke backfill pneumatically blown into the PVC pipe as part of the anode system installation. In addition to the linear anode segments and coke backfill, the slotted PVC pipes have a venting system to allow gases produced during the cathodic protection reaction to vent. This prevents gas buildup and blockage inside the PVC anode pipe.

Replaceable Anode System Installation Drawing

One of the key advantages of the RTA system is that once the PVC tubes are installed, it is possible to flush out the anode assemblies and coke backfill should the anode assemblies fail and/or they are at the end of their design life making this a replaceable anode system that will assure cathodic protection for the entire service life of the tank.

Additionally, a slotted Reference Cell Tube would be installed to allow for two calibrated fixed cathodic protection reference electrodes to be inserted for full polarized and non-polarized potential measurements across the entire tank bottom. This would allow for testing of the CP system with calibrated reference electrodes for the life of the tank.

Experienced HDD Installation—Assuring a Safe Installation

Horizontal Drilling Anode InstallationWhile the plant conceptually agreed with MATCOR’s solution from a technical perspective, there remained a significant concern within the plant’s operation and safety groups about drilling under this critical service tank and the possibility of a catastrophic event should the drill head drift up to the tank bottom. MATCOR put together a thorough installation procedure including detailed information on the sophisticated drill head tracking systems being utilized to assure that the drill head location was being continuously monitored throughout the bore. Utilizing an experienced local HDD drilling sub-contractor, MATCOR deputed its senior HDD installation drilling supervisor to Kuwait for the installation. Our Senior HDD Drilling Supervisor has completed hundreds of tank HDD installations in the United States and his on-site presence, along with the advanced electronic tracking package being used, assured that each bore went as planned.

Replaceable Anode System Installation Complete!

In December of 2019, MATCOR, working with our local Kuwaiti sub-contractor and the client’s engineering, construction and safety teams, successfully completed the installation of the replaceable anode system. The initial commissioning results showed that the anodes were installed properly. Each anode was distributing current as expected, and the polarization levels were meeting appropriate NACE criteria. The system has been left to operate and fully polarize. A subsequent visit by MATCOR’s technical team is scheduled in early 2020 to make final adjustments to the anode system current output and to confirm that the system continues to meet NACE criteria.

Conclusion

MATCOR’s successful installation in Kuwait of a horizontal directional bored CP system under an existing critical service tank is a first for the Middle East Region. The innovative MATCOR design, combined with the technical knowledge and operational expertise, makes this an interesting and viable option for other tank owner/operators worldwide to consider for their existing tanks with CP systems that are not performing properly.


To get in touch with our team of cathodic protection and AC mitigation experts for more information, to ask a question or get a quote, please click below. We will respond by phone or email within 24 hours. For immediate assistance, please call +1-215-348-2974.

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Vapor Corrosion Inhibitors

Are Vapor Corrosion Inhibitors Magic Dust or a Viable Corrosion Prevention Tool?

This article is intended to provide a basic primer on vapor corrosion inhibitors for use in corrosion prevention for above ground storage tanks and address where this technology stands.

There has been a significant effort within the oil and gas world to either promote or repudiate the use of Vapor Corrosion Inhibitors (VCIs) for tank bottom plate corrosion control. As a leader in the above ground storage tank corrosion control industry, MATCOR has partnered with Zerust® Oil & Gas to make VCI options available to our customers that are interested in applying this technology as part of their corrosion mitigation approach.

How Vapor Corrosion Inhibitors Work – Video Courtesy Zerust® Oil & Gas


What are vapor corrosion inhibitors and how do they prevent corrosion?

Zerust Vapor Corrosion Inhibitors can be used in conjunction with CP systems.VCIs are chemical compounds that are released into a confined space, such as the underside of a tank bottom, and diffused through the sand pad material to reach the metal surface. These compounds are adsorbed onto the metal surface forming a strong bond that promotes and maintains a passive oxide layer on the metal and blocks other contaminant molecules from reaching the surface.

Are VCIs a non-permanent solution?

Corrosion protection using VCIs requires sufficient chemical concentration to thoroughly diffuse across the entire tank bottom surface area. The VCI has a finite life, after which it ceases to remain active. When this occurs, further chemical is required to replenish the spent VCI. The frequency of VCI replacement will vary depending a range of factors:

  • The rate of leakage through the tank chime
  • The operating temperature of the tank
  • The sand properties
  • The amount of chemical initially applied
  • Other factors

As VCI technology is still in the early phase of adoption, the typical replenishment frequency remains one of the big unknowns. A conservative estimate would be a minimum of 3-5 years’ service life before replenishment although a least one source has reported upwards of 15 years of effectiveness.

How is VCI applied initially for above ground storage tanks?

There are a variety of application technologies depending on the application and whether the tank is new construction, existing tank during inspection, a tank that is in-service or a double floor tank. Other considerations include the substrate material or concrete pad. The VCI chemical can be provided in a powder or liquid form. Whatever system is utilized to deploy the VCI, consideration should be given to how it will be replenished over the life of the tank.

Can vapor corrosion inhibitors be used in lieu of cathodic protection?

Practically speaking, most tank operators are not looking to replace cathodic protection but are considering VCI as a supplement to cathodic protection or as a short-term solution for inadequate or depleted CP systems until a replacement CP system can be installed.

Can VCI be used as a complement to cathodic protection?

This is where VCI provides an exciting opportunity to supplement cathodic protection. While cathodic protection has a proven track record in corrosion prevention for tank bottoms, there are limits to the effectiveness of cathodic protection. Cathodic protection only works when the tank bottom is in intimate contact with the sand bottom. Localized corrosion can occur wherever there are air gaps under the tank bottom. These can occur due to flexing of the tank bottom, imperfections in the plate steel, lapping of the plate steel, poor compaction of the sand bottom, presence of aggregate or non-conductive materials such as asphalt or oil, and at crevices in the tank ring wall. These are all areas where cathodic protection may not be effective and the proper application of VCI would be an excellent means of providing corrosion protection in these localized areas. Cathodic protection and vapor corrosion inhibitors are symbiotic. CP current distribution has been shown to improve in the presence of VCI.

How do I monitor that the VCI is working?

When applying VCI to a tank bottom, coupons, ER probes or UT probes installed under the tank are used to measure the effectiveness of the VCI and to alert the owner when the VCI requires replenishment. One of the concerns with using ER probes to measure corrosion rates under tanks is that ER probes provide an average corrosion rate and not localized pitting rates. It is understood that pitting corrosion is the dominant factor in tank bottom corrosion related failures and pitting rates can be significantly higher than average corrosion rates. There is a distinct correlation between average corrosion rates and pitting corrosion rates and the ER probes can be used to infer changes in the pitting rates.

Where do vapor corrosion inhibitors stand with industry standards and regulations?

According to API 651, there are several situations where CP is not recommended for specific tank foundation designs. In some of these designs, PHMSA recognizes that CP is not feasible.  In these cases, VCI can be a viable option. API 2610, the Tanks and Terminals standard outlines the use of VCI for tank bottoms in section 12.5. API 651, the CP standard, is being updated currently and VCI is being included as an option in this document. The State of Florida has identified that VCI can be used in tandem with CP or a standalone solution, for more than 6 years. NACE is currently working on publishing a standard “NACE TG543”, which is a comprehensive document on the application of VCI under tank floors. PHMSA is currently reviewing Special Permit requests for the use of VCI without a functioning CP system. If a non-regulated tank’s CP system is not meeting criteria, or has depleted, but the tank is still a few years from its next inspection, VCI can be applied to protect the floor until CP system repairs can be economically accomplished.

What independent published studies exist supporting VCI?

A 2018 study published by PRCI provides the strongest validation of the effectiveness of VCI and concluded that:

  • VCIs were found to be effective in mitigating pitting of steel exposed to corrosive sand but was not as effective as CP for reducing pitting corrosion. The study confirmed the importance of using the manufacturer’s recommended concentrations, as low levels of VCI was found to be ineffective.
  • ER Probes can be used to monitor the efficacy of VCIs
  • VCIs are compatible with impressed current cathodic protection; however, VCIs change the native potential of the steel and this must be considered when selecting CP criteria in accordance with NACE SP0193

Access the full study: PR-015-153602-R01 Vapor Corrosion Inhibitors Effectiveness for Tank Bottom Plate Corrosion Control

In conclusion, the application of VCI is a viable tool in our corrosion tool box that should be considered in conjunction with cathodic protection for critical service applications and as a standalone solution in some applications.


To get in touch with our team of cathodic protection experts for more information, to ask a question or get a quote, please click below. We will respond by phone or email within 24 hours. For immediate assistance, please call +1-215-348-2974.

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Have Extra 2019 Budget Monies?

MATCOR can help.

This is the time of year when thoughts turn to Thanksgiving and Christmas vacations, using up all your remaining vacation and wondering what to do with any leftover 2019 cathodic protection budget monies.  More than likely, it is too late to schedule and complete new projects.  MATCOR along with most of our competitors have full construction schedules and adding additional commitments is quite difficult.

So what to do with that leftover budget monies that may reset in 2020?  Many of our clients look to stock up on materials for their anticipated 2020 projects.  It is not too late get MATCOR’s Mitigator® Engineered AC Mitigation System, SPL™ Impressed Current Linear Anodes, Durammo® Deep Anode System, MMP™ Prepackaged MMO Canister Anodes and other ancillary materials into this year’s budget.

Click HERE to get in touch with your MATCOR account manager for more information, to ask a question or get a quote. Or, complete our contact form at the link below and we will respond by phone or email within 24 hours. For immediate assistance, please call +1-215-348-2974.

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AST Cathodic Protection System Tank Isolation Considerations

cathodic protection tank isolation considerationsEvan Savant, EnLink Midstream reached out to the MATCOR Technical Team asking about AST cathodic protection system tank isolation:

“Can you advise on the importance of isolation for a new AST connected to a Pipeline, and can you advise on the need to isolate the tank cathodic protection from the tank grounding?

MATCOR’s Director of Engineering, Kevin Groll PE, NACE CP4 responded:

I am unaware of any papers or technical documents on the subject, but I will summarize as follows:

  1. Why can a lack of isolation hurt your cathodic protection?
    When trying to protect any type of structure from corrosion, cathodic current loss to nearby structures is always a concern. Losses can occur when the structure in question is directly bonded to other structures which may “steal” current. Offending metal structures that are close to the cathodic protection anode and structures with better resistance to earth (e.g., bare copper grounding, bare driven piles, etc.) will more likely take a significant amount of current.
  2. How do you obtain isolation without losing overvoltage protection?
    To prevent current loss, your target structure must be electrically isolated from the offending structures.  However, once you isolate a structure, you will lose grounding (if it was purposefully grounded) and you will lose protection against overvoltage events, AC faults, and lightning strikes.  Therefore, to obtain DC isolation but maintain AC continuity and overvoltage continuity, we use solid state decouplers (SSDs) and polarization cell replacements (PCRs). The primary difference between these devices is how much surge current they will carry.
  3. Tank cathodic protection design considerations.
    When we design an under-tank CP system with concentric rings, we assume that we will not have isolation from grounding and facility piping, and we also assume that most of the current will get to the tank bottom because of the proximity of the anodes.  This is not always the case, as we saw in a recent project, but for the most part concentric ring systems can be powered high enough to overcome the lack of isolation.

Horizontal directional drilling installed linear systems show approximately 1.5 to 2 times as much current is required as a concentric ring system due to current losses.  Again, we usually factor in enough current capacity to overcome these losses.

Deep anode systems and semi-deep anode systems suffer the worst losses. These systems will sometimes require isolation of the tanks to prevent critical current loss.  If a system is already in place, testing can be performed to determine how much loss there is to existing structures by measuring the current returned on ground rods and pipes. This is accomplished by using clamp-on current meters around wires/rods and Swain meters around pipes.

It is important to note that tank terminal isolation and grounding are factors in these complex tank terminal applications that must be considered in the proper design of Cathodic Protection.  MATCOR’s experienced team of engineers can evaluate your specific application and make the appropriate recommendations.


To get in touch with our team of cathodic protection experts for more information, to ask a question or get a quote, please click below. We will respond by phone or email within 24 hours. For immediate assistance, please call +1-215-348-2974.

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Oil Cooled Cathodic Protection Transformer Rectifiers: Why, when and where…

Oil Cooled Cathodic Protection Transformer RectifiersThis article describes the components of a cathodic protection rectifier, and when to use oil cooled cathodic protection transformer rectifiers vs. air cooled rectifiers.

When it comes to cathodic protection power supplies, conventional transformer rectifier circuits have long been employed by the cathodic protection industry for impressed current CP systems.  These power supplies (commonly referred to as rectifiers in the CP world) consist of three main components; the transformer, the rectification stack, and a cabinet to house these components.  The transformer takes the input AC voltage on the primary side and controls the output AC voltage on the secondary side.  The rectification stack, typically silicon diode stacks which have largely replaced older less efficient selenium stacks, convert the AC input wave form into a DC wave form by cycling the AC flows in one direction and blocking in the other.  Additional components typically include circuit breakers, fuses, voltage and current output meters, lightning arrestors, surge suppressors, transformer tap bars, and monitoring systems.

Air-cooled Rectifier
Typical Air-cooled Rectifier

The majority of these Rectifiers are housed in air-cooled NEMA 3R enclosures – these enclosures are typically constructed of hot dipped galvanized steel, aluminum, stainless steel or painted steel.  NEMA 3R enclosures are intended for outdoor use.  They provide a degree of protection against falling rain and ice formation but are not completely water tight or weather proof and could be subjected to beating rain or streams of water, under certain conditions, entering the enclosure.  This is the most common type of rectifier enclosure in the industry.

When and Where to Use Oil Cooled Cathodic Protection Transformer Rectifiers


Oil Cooled Rectifier
Oil Cooled Rectifier

For some applications; however, the use of air cooled NEMA 3R enclosures is not recommended or not suitable.  The three most common reasons not to use air-cooled NEMA 3R enclosures are:

  1. Rectifier transformer size is too large to support an air cooled enclosure. For a small percentage of impressed current CP systems where the power requirements (measured in DC Watts) are sufficiently high that the cooling capacity of the enclosure is insufficient for the heat generated by the transformer (typically anything more than 12kW for single phase and 18kW for three phase.)
  2. Severe environment locations where high humidity, dust or other situations could shorten the life of a standard air cooled rectifier. Marine and near shore applications often fall into this category.
  3. The enclosure must be in a hazardous classified location requiring Class 1 Div. 2, Group D compliant enclosure – commonly referred to as Explosion Proof.

Oil Cooled Rectifier for Hazardous Locations
Oil Cooled Rectifier for Hazardous Locations

For these applications, oil cooled cathodic protection transformer rectifiers are typically specified.  As implied in the name, the oil cooled rectifier utilizes an enclosure that has a sealed reservoir which houses the transformer and transformer tap bars and is filled with a special transformer oil.  The transformer oil provides better heat transfer and dissipation and the larger case facilitates improved heat removal.

It is very important to note that standard oil cooled rectifiers are NOT explosion proof.  For an oil cooled rectifier to be considered Explosion Proof, the components that are not immersed in the transformer oil reservoir must be housed in special Explosion Proof fixtures.  Simply specifying oil cooled when ordering a rectifier does not satisfy the requirements for locating the rectifier in a hazardous Class 1 Div.2 location without also including the additional provisions required for the explosion proof fittings.


To get in touch with our team of cathodic protection experts for more information, to ask a question or get a quote for cathodic protection materials or related construction services, please click below. We will respond by phone or email within 24 hours. For immediate assistance, please call +1-215-348-2974.

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