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Biocorrosion fightback awaits alloy trials

BRITISH STEEL'S new 'bug-resistant' Harbour Master sheet piles will not be available until much later than originally hoped, it was confirmed this week.

Laboratory trials on the still-secret alloy, which British Steel claims is unaffected by bacterial influenced accelerated low water corrosion, have only just been completed. Production trials will start soon, but the best estimate a British Steel spokesman could give for the new sheet piles' launch was 'sometime next year'.

Harbour Master was an unexpected fruit of a major European-funded research project completed earlier this year (NCE 4 June). Other experimental alloys containing toxic metals like copper and chromium failed to resist the biocorrosion. But Harbour Master gave much better results.

In the summer British Steel was hoping to have the piles available by the end of 1998. News of the delay will be a blow to those responsible for marine structures, who are still looking for guidance on the best methods of resisting ALWC.

Dave Parker

(see Commentary page 10)

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