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Junior Nathan DeLong spent last semester carefully polishing samples of stainless steel with sandpaper, then placing them in a salt bath to corrode their surfaces.

DeLong collaborated with Ricardo Bogaert-Alvarez, assistant professor of chemical engineering, as an EXCEL Scholar. DeLong was trying to learn whether polished steel would develop surface pits more slowly, and whether high concentrations of salt would pit more quickly.

A former researcher at Bristol-Myers Squibb and principal development engineer at Arco Chemical Company, Bogaert-Alvarez has conducted studies at Argonne National Laboratory and the Institute of Energy Conversion in Newark, Del. He has shared his research in scientific journals and at conferences in his field.

“I basically altered the polish on the stainless steel and the salt concentration of the bath,” says DeLong, an A.B. engineering major and chemistry minor.

Along the lines of previous research, DeLong accelerated the process of corrosion on stainless steel samples using an electrochemical technique called cyclic polarization. However, unlike prior experiments, DeLong used a stainless steel alloy containing three percent molybdenum, a metallic element that makes the steel more resistant to corrosion.

Bogaert-Alvarez says he plans to publish a paper on the work in a scholarly journal.

“He’s been pretty diligent,” Bogaert-Alvarez says of DeLong, who hopes to work in environmental chemistry after graduation. DeLong says the work required “a fair amount of patience.”

“It was definitely a new experience,” he says, adding that Bogaert-Alvarez was careful to show him each step of the experimental process. “He was very patient with helping me understand the procedure.”

DeLong is a member of the campus chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and the varsity swimming team. Also a disk jockey for the campus radio station, he plans to participate in Lafayette Activities Forum during the spring semester.

Categorized in: Academic News