Professor Brian Kinsella | Curtin University, Australia

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P F Thompson Memorial Lecture Presentation – Mechanism of CO2 Corrosion and Inhibition


The P F Thompson Lecture in honour of Australia’s pioneer in corrosion research and education will touch on important aspects in the work and life of Percival Faraday Thompson (1885-1951). The lecture will cover a chronological overview of Brian Kinsella’s work on corrosion inhibitors in oil and gas production.

In petroleum production, the use of carbon steel with inhibition is still considered one of the most cost-effective options, particularly compared to using corrosion resistant alloys such as stainless steels. Despite CO2 corrosion presenting a hazard to petroleum producers for over 100 years the mechanism still remains a controversial topic. The mechanism of corrosion inhibitors also contains gaps which need exploring, despite formulations developed which can effectively reduce baseline corrosion rates of >20 mm/y to <0.1 mm/y.

Contentious issues surrounding the mechanism of CO2 corrosion will be presented together with technological developments which have helped to understand the function of corrosion inhibitor molecules. Historical features emanating from research on corrosion inhibitors associated with former PhD students, staff and colleagues will be presented. These include the early work of Professor Mike Yong-Jun Tan (1995-2000, inventor of the wire beam electrode), Dr Will Durnie (2002-2005, structural activity relationship of surfactant molecules), Dr Douglas John (2002-2006, corrosion inhibitor performance under high flow conditions), Shandelle Bosenberg (2006-2009, imaging surfactant molecules on mica), Dr You Xiong (2008-2011 structural mechanical properties of inhibitor films) and Dr Katerina Lepkova (2010-2018). The research by Katerina involves sophisticated surface measurement techniques to determine mechanism of adsorption and structural mechanical properties of inhibitor films on a corroding carbon-steel surface.

Without doubt, the most important breakthrough in technology has been the development and application of atomic force microscopy (AFM) because for the first time the interface between adsorbed inhibitor molecules and a steel surface can be investigated in situ at the atomic level. In addition, film thickness and the forces to penetrate an inhibitor film and remove molecules from the surface can be investigated concurrently.


Brian received his undergraduate (1971) and graduate (1977) degrees in Applied Chemistry from Curtin University. His early career was in the field of electroanalytical chemistry. He was the Distinguished Visiting Scientist, National Research Council of Canada in Ottawa (1987-1988) where his work was centred on ultra-trace analysis of heavy metals in seawater using anodic stripping voltammetry. Soon after returning to Perth he moved into corrosion science and has worked in the area of corrosion in oil and gas production for over 30 years.

He founded and directed the Western Australian Corrosion Research Group (WACRG) at Curtin University (1987-2007) which has evolved into the present Curtin Corrosion Centre. The Centre is widely recognised for its efficient and effective services to industry.

Brian was instrumental negotiating with Woodside and Chevron to establish the inaugural Chevron, Woodside Chair in Corrosion in 2007. He retired from Curtin to take up the prestigious position of Stocker Visiting Professor, Ohio University (2008-2011), where he worked at the Institute for Corrosion and Multiphase Technology, mentoring graduate students and developing new methods to study the mechanical properties of corrosion inhibitor films.

He was invited to return to Curtin in October 2013, where he now directs the applied research and testing for industry and works closely with the senior research staff. His main areas of interest are internal pipeline corrosion, scale/corrosion inhibitors and electrochemical techniques where he has authored and co-authored over 100 journal publications and over 300 confidential reports for industry.


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