Volume 20 Preprint 103
Study of AC Interference Corrosion: Advanced Electrochemical Tests and Mitigation with Novel Simulations
Fatiha BABAGHAYOU, Boubakeur ZEGNINI and Tahar SEGHIER
Keywords: AC interferences, AC corrosion, Cathodic protection, Electrochemical tests, Electrode, Electrolyte.
The HV power lines sometimes share the same path with buried pipelines that are protected by an insulation coating and a cathodic protection (CP). However, neighbouring HV power lines induce an alternative current (AC) which causes corrosion damages on metallic structures known as the AC corrosion phenomena. In this study, we did an experimental investigation on a laboratory model, to realize electrochemical tests on a pipeline steel sample. Afterwards, we did a numerical simulation studies. Where, we studied the corrosion electrochemical reactions such as anodic process and cathodic process; i.e. the iron oxidation and the reduction of both the oxygen and the hydrogen. We have also simulated the CP, the AC corrosion and the deformation of the steel pipeline sample. At last, to remedy this problem, we developed a monitoring and correction program for optimizing the AC corrosion. The main novelty of our work resides in our experimental and numerical simulation results, which are in good agreement, and the development of a program for an automatic mitigation of AC Corrosion.
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Study of AC Interference Corrosion: Advanced Electrochemical
Tests and Mitigation with Novel Simulations
F. BABAGHAYOU*, B. ZEGNINI and T. SEGHIER
A Laboratory for the Study and Development of Semiconductors and Dielectric Materials,
Amar Telidji University Laghouat, Algeria
The HV power lines sometimes share the same path with buried pipelines that are protected
by an insulation coating and a cathodic protection (CP). However, neighbouring HV power
lines induce an alternative current (AC) which causes corrosion damages on metallic
structures known as the AC corrosion phenomena. In this study, we did an experimental
investigation on a laboratory model, to realize electrochemical tests on a pipeline steel
sample. Afterwards, we did a numerical simulation studies. Where, we studied the corrosion
electrochemical reactions such as anodic process and cathodic process; i.e. the iron
oxidation and the reduction of both the oxygen and the hydrogen. We have also simulated
the CP, the AC corrosion and the deformation of the steel pipeline sample. At last, to
remedy this problem, we developed a monitoring and correction program for optimizing
the AC corrosion. The main novelty of our work resides in our experimental and numerical
simulation results, which are in good agreement, and the development of a program for an
automatic mitigation of AC Corrosion.
Keywords: AC interferences, AC corrosion, Cathodic protection, Electrochemical tests,
The overhead high voltage power transmission lines influence buried pipelines by inducing
AC, causing the perturbation of the cathodic protection (CP) , leading to severe corrosion
The AC corrosion has become a problem only in the last thirty years, after the growth in the
number of interference sources, such as the traction systems and AC-powered electrical
transmission lines that share the same path with the buried pipelines for long distances,
because of the space limitation imposed by private or governmental entities [2, 3].
In recent decades, the insulation capacity improvement of the cathodically protected pipe
coatings has aggravated the AC corrosion problem: the passage to the usage of bitumen
particularly polyethylene and polypropylene extruded, allowed the increase of the coating
electrical resistivity and minimise the size and the defects occurrences. This was an
advantage, because it reduced the delivered CP current, but caused high interfering AC
densities at the defects area. Many authors considered this as one of the main reasons for
the increase in the number of corrosion cases attributable to AC interference [2, 4], and
many researchers have carried substantial studies in this field such as A. Brenna et al. [2,
5], G.C. Christoforidis et al. , E.S.M. Nicoletti [6, 7], K. Dae-Kyeong et al. , L. V. Nielsen
et al. [9, 10], Y. Hosokawa , Q. Ding et al. , I. Ibrahim et al.  and International
Institute Nace .
Gas and oil companies have confronted serious pipelines AC corrosion problems, even in a
protection condition by both an insulation coating and a cathodic protection (CP). To
remedy the problem, companies need to replace defective sections, which is very costly.
In this work, to solve this problem, we aim to simulate this phenomenon and conduct
investigations. First, we carried out electrochemical tests on a laboratory model, by using a
sample of the pipeline steel type API 5L X52, which is used in Algeria. We used an advanced
electrochemical workstation potentiostat and galvanostat EC-LAB VSP300, it allowed us to
simplify the studied phenomenon model, and it provided all our measurements. We used a
test cell containing a pipeline’s sample, and a solution to simulate soil. Firstly, we subjected
the test cell to free potential measurements, which means without both the CP and the AC,
and then we applied a DC as CP to the sample. The measurements of the potential Eoff,
instant-off potential is the polarised half-cell potential of an electrode taken immediately
after stopping the CP current, which closely approximates the potential without IR drop (i.e.
the polarized potential) when the current was on. It allowed us to select an appropriate CP;
then we added an AC in order to simulate the induced current. We did a numerical
simulation study to represent digitally the test cell, the CP phenomenon and the AC
corrosion. Moreover, we suggest an efficient solution for minimising its impact on
pipelines. For this numerical simulation, we used the COMSOL Multiphysics software [15,
16]. We introduced all parameters of both of the iron sample and simulating the soil
solution. We measured the Eoff, we selected the appropriate CP, which brings the immunity
state, and then we added AC for simulating the induced current. Finally, we have set up an
automatic mitigation of AC corrosion by a monitoring and correction program to bring the
Eoff, in the AC presence, to the corrosion immunity zone, according to standards.
The optimization methods used in our work are the methods proposed by the COMSOL
software for the Corrosion phenomenon and which are "Distribution of current in the cell",
"Transport of diluted species" and "ODE / DAE" used for our program developed for the
control and modification of CP.
2. Experimental Study
In order to do experimental investigation, we used an advanced electrochemical
workstation potentiostat and galvanostat EC-LAB VSP300. It allowed us to simplify the
studied phenomenon model, and it provided all of our measurements. We conducted the
electrochemical tests on the laboratory model, we used a test cell containing an Iron sample
of pipeline type API 5L X52, and a solution to simulate soil.
2.1. Electrochemical process
Below are the electrochemical process reactions [2, 8, 17]: Anodic Process (Eq. (1)) and
Cathodic Process (Eq. (2), Eq. (3) and Eq. (4)):
Fe Fe 2 2e
4e O2 2 H 2O 4OH
2e 2 H 2O 2OH H 2
2e 2 H H 2
2.2. Material and methods (electrode, electrolyte & measuring device)
The working electrode was API 5L X52 steel used in Algeria with the following chemical
composition: 0.31% Manganese, 1.35% Carbon, 0.030% Sulphur and 0.030% Phosphor. (as
shown in Fig. 1). The electrode is a metallic conductor, thus its potential relation [2, 18]:
s ECP E AC ECP A.sin 2. . f .t
where, ECP is the applied potential of CP, EAC is the AC potential, A is the amplitude of the
AC potential and f is the frequency (50 Hz).
The electrolyte is composed by a soil-simulating solution [2, 4]: 200 mg/L chlorides (0.33
g/L of NaCl) and 500 mg/L sulphate ions (0.74 g/L of Na2SO4). It was prepared from
distilled water and analytical grade reagent for the electrochemical tests.
The Measuring device is the potentiostat and galvanostat EC-LAB VSP300 for applying DC
(CP) and AC simultaneously to the sample (Fig. 1). The EC-Lab VSP300 provides useful
techniques separated into two categories Electrochemical Techniques and Electrochemical
Fig. 1 show a schematic experimental setup diagram of AC corrosion of pipeline steel.
Figure 1: Cell – Sample, Electrolyte (NaCl, Na2SO4), Reference electrode (Cu/CuSO4) ,
2.3. Steps of the experimental tests
We followed the below steps for carrying out the experimental tests:
Step 1: We used the free-potential procedure, to highlight the corrosion process in the
absence of PC and AC.
Step 2: We applied the linear polarization method, to find the area where the sample did not
oxidize, which we called the immunity zone.
Step 3: We selected the appropriate CP, where the Eoff was in the immunity zone, in the
absence of AC.
Step 4: We applied a variable value of the induced current (AC) and we measured the Eoff, to
underscore the overshooting of the restriction zone.
2.4. Results and discussion of experimental study
2.4.1 Free potential in the absence of CP and AC
This test aims to verify that, in the absence of CP (Free potential analysis method of VSP300
), the sample undergoes oxidation.
The EC-Lab analysis software shows that without the CP, The potential decreases and
stabilizes at -540 mV, the device also gives us Ecorr = -540 mV and oxidation of the sample
took place. The sample is in oxidation state.
2.4.2 The good immunity area and the adequate CP
We applied the LP analysis method (Linear Polarization Log i (Eoff)) [8, 18] on two different
samples as showed in Fig. 2.
This technique allows us to sweep in the same curve through both the reduction area and
the oxidation zone.
Figure 2: Immunity zone and Adequate CP
In the reduction area, method illustrates the no-oxidation of iron samples part, i.e the
reduction state. Then we can choose the immunity zone between -960 mV and -670 mV.
Regarding this results, we can also choose the adequate CP in the middle of the restraining
zone, for our samples: CP -800 mV, which means for CP = -800 mV and -960 mV < Eoff
< -670 mV, the sample does not undergo any corrosion; it is in the immunity zone.
Regarding tests results, they are consistent with the standards.
2.4.3 Application of an induced AC in the presence of CP
By applying the ACV technique (AC voltammetry VSP-300)18 and Eoff potential monitoring,
for several periods and different values of AC, we have the following results (showed in Fig.
3(a), Fig. 3(b) and Fig. 3(c)).
For CP = -800 mV and AC = 100 mV, the sample is in reduction state and Eoff is in
immunity area, it is illustrated by the green bar (the status green bar at the bottom left) as
showed in Fig. 3(a).
For CP = -800 mV and AC = 200 mV or AC = 400 mV, the sample is in oxidation state and
Eoff exceeded the immunity area, it is illustrated by the yellow bar (the status yellow bar at
the bottom left) as showed in Fig. 3(b) and Fig. 3(c).
We can say that the use of the potentiostat and galvanostat EC-LAB VSP-300 gives the
opportunity to facilitate the studies on AC corrosion by the application of the two currents
DC and AC at the same time on the sample, and it allowed us to present many applications
and analytical techniques. The VSP-300 replaces circuitry and electrical schemes from
previous experiments, the experimental apparatus is appropriate for the study, especially
given that the main focus of the paper is not to develop a new experimental set up and
facilities technique, but to demonstrate his compatibility devices. Unfortunately, the only
problem with this type of device is that it is not possible to correct automatically the CP in
case of an Eoff exceeding the immunity zone.
Therefore, we suggested a solution in the future perspective of this research.
Figure 3: Potential Eoff for CP=-800 mV (a) AC=100 mV, (b) AC=200 mV (c) AC=400 mV
3. Numerical Simulation
We ran a simulation study in order to digitally represent the CP phenomenon, AC corrosion
and optimise AC corrosion behaviour, by changing the CP in the case of AC interferences.
We developed a monitoring program that returns the process status to the immunity zone
by referring to Pourbaix diagram and CP Hosokawa criteria [2, 11, 19].
The immunity zone is: -8.50 V < Eoff < -1.15 V, where Eoff, instant-off potential is the
polarised half-cell potential of an electrode taken immediately after stopping the CP
current, which closely approximates the potential without IR drop (i.e. the polarized
potential) when the current was on.
Numerical simulations are based on:
3.1. The Model Geometry
Figure 4 shown the geometry model used.
Figure 4: The Model Geometry: Sample, Counter Electrode and Electrolyte
This simulation required [15, 16]:
The parameters initial value configuration of:
The electrolyte conductivity, diffusion coefficient of Fe (Iron), O2 (Oxygen) and H2
(Hydrogen), Tafel slope iron oxidation, hydrogen evolution and oxygen reduction,
reference concentration of Fe, O2 and H2, iron oxidation equilibrium potential,
hydrogen evolution equilibrium potential, oxygen reduction equilibrium potential,
iron oxidation exchange current density, hydrogen evolution current density, oxygen
reduction exchange current density.
The definition of the electrochemical composition of iron API 5L X52 pipeline used in
Algeria (sample in Fig. 4) in the "Material Overview" Comsol section.
The Definition of the reference electrode (measurement Eoff) in the "DefinitionsDomain Probe" Comsol section.
3.2. The parameterization of current distribution in the cell
The electrode is a metallic conductor; thus, its current-voltage relation obeyed to Ohm's
law [20, 21]:
is s s
where is is the current density (A/m2) in the electrode, s is the conductivity (S/m), s is the
electric potential (V), and Qs is the general current source term (A/m3).
The definition of the electric potential s is [2, 18]:
s ECP E AC ECP A.sin 2. . f .t
where ECP is the applied potential of CP, EAC is the induced AC potential, A is the amplitude
of the induced AC potential and f is the frequency (50 Hz).
The electrolyte is an ionic conductor; thus, the net current density can be described using
the sum of all ions fluxes:
i F i z N
where il is the current density (A/m2) in the electrolyte, F is Faraday constant (C/mol), and
Ni is the flux of species i (mol.(m2/s)) with charge number zi [19, 21].
The Nernst-Planck equation described the ion flux in an ideal electrolyte solution. This ion
flux explains the flux of solute species by diffusion, migration and convection in the
respective additive terms [19, 21]:
Ni Di ci zi um,i Fci l ci u
where for the species i, ci is the concentration (mol/m3), Di is the diffusion coefficient
(m2/s), um,i is its mobility (s mol/kg), l is the electrolyte potential (V), and u is the velocity
By substituting the Nernst-Planck equation into the expression for current density, we find
il F i zi Di ci F 2 l i zi2um ,i ci uF i zi ci
with current conservation: il Ql
This widespread treatment of electrochemical theory is generally too complicated to be
practical. Supposing that one or more of the terms in Eq. (9) are weak, the equations can be
simplified and linearized [19-21, 23, 24]:
il l l
The activation overpotential (Electrode-Electrolyte-Interface) is the difference between the
actual potential difference and the equilibrium potential difference [21-24]:
Qs Ql Eeq
where Eeq is the equilibrium potential, and it is given by Nernst’s equation2:
Eeq E K log M
where E0 is the standard metal potential, K is a constant, aMz+ is the metallic ions activity, aM
is the metal activity in the electrolyte.
3.3. The transport of chemical species
To configure the concentration and the chemical species movement (Fe, O2, H2), the driving
forces for transport can be diffused by Fick´s law, convection when coupled to a flow field,
and migration, when coupled to an electric field [21, 25].
ci / t Dici uci Ri
where for the species i, ci is the concentration (mol / m3), Di is the diffusion coefficient
(m2/s), u is the velocity vector (m/s), and Ri is the reaction rate expression (mol/(m3 s)).
The flux vector N (mol/(m2 s)) is associated with the mass balance equation above and is
used in boundary conditions and flux computations. For the case where the diffusion and
convection are the only transport mechanisms, the flux vector is defined as :
Ni Di ci uci
3.4. The math ODE and DAO Module
We used the module in COMSOL multi-physics to support the monitoring program to bring
the situation to the immunity state, below the simplified algorithm used.
1: read EAC, ECP, Eoff
if (Eoff > -1.15 V and Eoff < -0.85 V) goto 1
Calculate a new ECP and other parameters
Apply the new ECP and the other parameters
3.5. The sample deformation by corrosion
We applied on our model the Corrosion-Secondary a model wizard of Comsol [15, 16].
Which is a predefined multiphysics interface; it contains an interface for the electric current
distribution and an interface for deformed geometry. The last handles the deformed
geometry part of the problem.
For the counter electrode surface, which will not be deformed, we used an electrode surface
node to model the reduction reaction. For the sample surface, we used an electrode surface
node with an added dissolving-depositing species, which sets up both the deformation of
the geometry and the steel electrode reactions.
We have also solved the model using a time-dependent study with automatic remeshing
enabled [15, 16].
Afterwards, we described the reaction kinetics by the cathodic Tafel expression and the
anodic electrode reaction current density by anodic Tafel expression [22, 26, 27]:
icat i0,cat 10
itafel i0,an 10
where i0 is the exchange current density, is the reaction overpotential, Aan and Acat are the
Tafel slope, and ilim is the limiting current density.
The iron metal dissolution makes the electrode boundary moving, with a velocity in the
normal direction, v (m/s), according to the formula:
where M is the average molar mass, is the iron density, F is the Faraday constant (C/mol).
3.6. The Boundary Condition
Our applied simulation obeyed to the boundary conditions below:
The boundary condition applied to the insulating surface is the potential gradient
perpendicular to the surface and is equal to zero. The potential of the anode is fixed. The
potential of the structure is assumed unknown and described on every point k by the
U k Vk Eok k
where Uk is the potential in the soil adjacent to the point considered, Vk the potential of the
metallic part of the structure, Eok the Nernst potential of the metal-soil system, and
the polarization voltage resulting from electrochemical reactions (mass and
For coated structures, a linear voltage drop replaces the polarization across the coating
resistance, featuring changing resistivity along the structures. When an AC voltage source is
applied, it is necessary to implement the voltage as an explicit potential difference between
two nodes lying on the surface of the protected structure and on the anode, respectively
3.7. Results and discussion of numerical modelling
3.7.1 The potential Eoff in the presence of CP
Figures 5, 6(a) and 6(b) represent the Eoff in the CP presence and for different values of an
induced AC without and with the automatic mitigation of AC Corrosion by the immunity
program respectively. This representation allowed us to discuss the curves of the sample
corrosion based on the standards [2, 11, 19].
Figure 5(a) represents the measured Eoff in the presence of a right CP without the presence
of induced AC, we brought the Eoff in the immunity area by choosing the adequate CP,
regarding the standards [2, 11, 19].
Figure 5(b) shows that the potential Eoff in the CP and AC presence (Amplitude A = 100 mV)
did not exceed the immunity zone, in this case, we did not need to modify the CP.
Figure 5: (a) Eoff in the presence of CP (without AC), (b) Eoff in the presence of CP & AC
(Amplitude A=100 mV).
Figure 6 (Amplitude A = 200 mV) and Fig. 7 (Amplitude A = 500 mV) illustrate that Eoff
exceeded the immunity area; therefore, there is a significant corrosion risk. Then, for the
same AC values and by introducing the automatic mitigation of AC Corrosion by the
immunity program resolution (ODE / DAO), we were able to bring the Eoff to the immunity
zone. Secondly, we measured the different species concentration of the electrochemical
Figure 6: Eoff in the presence of CP & AC (Amplitude A = 200 mV
Figure 7: Eoff in the presence of CP & AC (Amplitude A = 500 mV)
3.7.2 The Concentration of iron ions Fe2+, Oxygen O2 and Hydrogen H2
Figure 8(a) shows the Iron ions Fe2+ concentration increase near the sample, thus,
demonstrating that a reaction of iron oxidation (Eq. (1)) corrosion took place. After the
implementation of the automatic mitigation of AC Corrosion by the immunity program, this
Figure 8(b) illustrates the important Oxygen O2 concentration decrease near the sample,
thus, demonstrating a reaction of Oxygen reduction (Eq. (2)), implying that it is a case of a
strong corrosion. After the implementation of the automatic mitigation of AC Corrosion by
the immunity program, this concentration increases.
Figure 8(c) shows the Hydrogen H2 concentration increase near the sample. It demonstrates
that it is a reduction reaction of H2O (Eq. (3)) or H+ (Eq. (4)), indicating that a significant
corrosion took place. After the automatic mitigation of AC Corrosion by the immunity
program implementation, we notice a concentration decrease.
3.7.3 The Sample Deformation under CP and AC
Finally, we studied the sample deformation under both CP and AC.
Figure 8 illustrates the model geometry. We have presented a restriction of the electrolyte
domain, to focus on the deformation area. The left part of the boundary is the surface of
the counter electrode; the right part is the surface of the sample. On the right boundary a
hole, of 0.1 mm deep, was created at the right of the geometry.
Figure 9: Model Restriction
Figure 9 illustrates the model restriction to show clearly the sample deformation.
Figure 10(a) shows, that when we introduce both CP and an induced AC during a period of
72 hours, corrosion makes a clear sample deformation, which has taken the shape of a
hole, into the positive x direction of the geometry.
In Fig. 10(b), we executed the automatic mitigation of AC Corrosion by the rectification
program during the same period (72 hours), and we did not observe any deformation.
Figure 10: Sample Deformation by corrosion (under CP & AC) (a) Before implementation of
the return program to the immunity zone (b) After implementation of the return program to
the immunity zone.
4. The Comparison Between Experimental and Simulation Results
We would like to provide the direct links between the experimental and simulation study.
We have used the same steel in the experiment and the one that was configured in the
simulation (API 5L X52). The potential s applied to the studied sample in the experimental
part obeyed to the formula Eq. (5), which is the same used in the numerical simulation Eq.
(7). Fig. 3(a), Fig. 3(b) and Fig. 3(c) show that the experimental data are in good agreement
with simulation results in Fig. 5(b), Fig. 6 and Fig. 7. The execution of the corrective
program of CP in case of Eoff exceeding the limits is possible in the simulation but
experimentally it is not possible by the used device, the potentiostat and galvanostat.
In conclusion, in the practical study we modeled the AC corrosion phenomena. It allowed
us; first, to record data such as the free potential, it showed that without the CP the sample
was in oxidation state. Secondly, we have selected the proper CP in the absence of AC, by
applying the LP analysis method (Linear Polarization: Log i (Eoff)) on two different samples,
results have illustrated that for an adequate CP chosen in reduction area the sample does
not undergo any corrosion, it was in the immunity zone, obtained tests results were
consistent with the standards. Finally, the application of AC to the model protected by a CP,
for low AC voltage, gave no oxidation because we did not exceed the immunity zone, and
the sample was safe, but when AC increased, Eoff exceeded the immunity area, and the
oxidation took place. The numerical simulation’s results indicated that the application of
the induced AC causes sample corrosion, even under protection conditions. This was
because we obtained an Eoff exceeding the immunity zone combined with a heavy iron
oxidation, a significant oxygen reduction, a high Hydrogen liberation and a clear sample
deformation. Then by using our monitoring program, we were able to bring the Eoff to the
corrosion immunity zone according to standards when the AC was present. We were also
able to decrease the electrochemical process reactions and equally to prevent the sample's
corrosion. Because we had a clear deformation, in the form of a hole, of the sample by AC
corrosion, then the use of the automatic mitigation by the rectification program during the
same period 72 hours allowed us to avoid the deformation.
The direct links between the experimental and simulation study: we have used the same
steel (API 5L X52). The potential applied to the studied sample obeys to the same formula;
it was equal to the addition of a direct current as a CP and an alternating current as AC
interference (Eq. (5) and Eq. (7)). The results have shown that the experimental data were
good agreement with the simulation ones. The monitoring and CP corrective program
execution, when Eoff exceeded the limits, was possible in the numerical simulation.
In our future perspective, our goal is to establish a microcontroller-based system to
monitor the CP and to implement the immunity program along with the existing CP system
in places where pipelines are near power lines and causing AC interferences.
We would like to thank the Laboratory of Process Engineering Department and Laboratory of
Mechanics, Amar Telidji University of Laghouat, Algeria and ENS (Higher Normal School of
Laghouat) for EC-LAB. The authors thank Professor Mr Madjid Teguara, Research Laboratory
of Electrical Engineering, National Polytechnic, El-Harrach, Algeria for Comsol code.
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