Corrosion and Materials challenges in Energy Transition

By: Matt Caserta

Global trends towards lowering greenhouse gas emissions has forced energy companies to reevaluate their operating strategies. The challenge is time and concepts to achieve a “net zero,” which means looking at alternative feedstocks and new processes.  These pressures are leading towards a global energy transition. 

While some biofuel processes have been around for approximately 20 years, large scale implementation of these processes is starting to be seen at a greater rate.  The relative lack of industry experience in these scaled-up processes has left many owner-operators within the energy industry looking for expertise and experience on new process material selection and expected corrosion in converted units.  Becht team of Corrosion/Materials subject matter experts has helped a number of clients in these areas in just the past 6 months.

Becht was recently involved as a third-party reviewer of a FEED package for a biomass to syngas conversion facility.  Biomass to Syngas facilities utilize waste streams (pulp and paper, forestry, municipal waste) to capture carbon and convert it into a fuel used for heating.  This was the first facility of this type to be built by the end user, so there was not any practical experience with this type of facility with the company. 

Becht was contracted to review the licensor material selections for critical areas within the process.  Becht utilized a team of materials and corrosion subject matter experts to review the design process conditions and determine expected damage mechanisms for this process.  As a result of the project, Becht was able to apply industry best practices for similar facilities (petrochemical and refining) to this new process.  This included providing higher alloys for the most critical areas and reducing costs in areas where more risk could be tolerated.

In a similar project, Becht completed a corrosion and materials review document for a bio-oils pretreatment unit.  The client was working on a refinery to renewable fuels conversation project and considering different feedstocks for the reconfigured facility.  To expand flexibility of feedstock and reduce overall feedstock costs, a pretreatment unit was required.  This type of pretreatment unit was developed at a pilot scale by the licensor and was in full scale implementation for the first time in this project.  This specific pretreatment process was new to the refinery industry, but similar processes have been used in food oil production in the past.  Becht was able to leverage technology and experience to provide similar results of material upgrades and downgrade for this pilot scaling project.

As renewable fuels and decarbonization efforts continue to grow in demand, owner-operators are looking for technical expertise.

Becht has a strong team of subject matter experts in the biofuels and renewable fuels areas.  These areas include:

  • Bioprocessing Corrosion Impacts
  • Strategy Development for GHG Reduction and Renewables Initiatives
  • Hydrogen Economy
  • Process and Reliability Support for Bioprocessing Technologies
  • Owners Technical Advisory Support through Project Lifecycle
  • Staff Capability Development for Revamp and New Facilities

Mr. Caserta is a registered professional engineer with over 18 years of engineering experience in oil refining, chemical processing, and consulting.  Mr. Caserta’s varied background provides unique insights into process interactions, equipment reliability, and corrosion and materials concerns.  He currently manages Becht’s corrosion control document (CCD) /integrity operating window (IOW) implementation team and has personally been involved in development of CCDs and IOWs for over 50 different process units.

The past 12 years of Mr. Caserta’s career has focused on mechanical integrity, fixed equipment reliability, and inspection.  He has a strong knowledge of damage mechanisms through practical experience.  He has been involved in risk-based inspection assessments, mechanical integrity audits, and process engineering.  He has experience as a Chief Inspector planning and executing turnarounds, supervising day-to-day inspection needs, and managing projects.

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