On the morning of 6th April, finally all SOCORRO project partners came together and met in person at the historical-1930s building of the Antwerp Maritime Academy, home of our project
Lead Partner and located in the port of the amazing city of Antwerp. From the building we could see (and hear) new steel infrastructure being built around us, the wet weather and river water meeting sea water in the locks, and in the distance while looking up the river we could see the skyline of the city of Antwerp, with the old stone and brick buildings along with contemporary steel, concrete and glass structures. A perfect setting for a project that looks at the marvel of and how to mitigate the decay of steel; a material used in all sorts of engineered structures: ships, bridges, locks, docks, buildings, machinery, peers, pipes, ...
The Joint Secretariat started the day with an overview of the project's progress to date, and asked questions about specific work-packages, partners' contributions and progress, and what is still to the achieved. It's reassuring to have these conversations in person rather than via email and to share with our funders the great work that partners across the consortium are achieving. Throughout the day, researchers across the 2Seas shared data from lab experiments and different settings where they were testing how environmental factors affect corrosion rates. These data are then being used to train the AI tool that will allow industries looking after steel infrastructure (e.g. fleets, ports, water management plans, etc) to monitor the risks of corrosion and act before it's too late; before collapses or breakage occur (e.g. bridges, ships), with catastrophic consequences, or before expensive crucial structural parts need to be fully replaced, incurring environmental and monetary costs.
Presentations from different partners took part throughout the day, and simultaneously, partners were invited to partake and experience a VR prototype developed to communicate the science behind corrosion. We gathered invaluable insights from SOCORRO project researchers to help us improve how we present, visualise and convey the science behind corrosion, the project's core purpose and the key message to a wider audience.
The day ended with a visit to the Antwerp Maritime Academy Lab (to see some samples and the setting where different control experiments are being undertaken in Antwerp), a discussion on future research plans and a monstrous cheese-filled dinner. Some SOCORRO partners could not imagine or had never seen so much cheese as a main course before in their lives!
Our host and Research Project Lead, Dr Geert Potters, managed to make this visit thoroughly worth and enjoyable. Besides the sideways windy rain, it was a perfect setting to talk about research, ongoing activities and potential future developments for our SOCORRO project.