Meeting Dr Liane Smith CBE

Meeting Dr Liane Smith CBE

“An Award for All in Corrosion”

The CBE (Commander of the British Empire) is one of the highest awards the Monarch can bestow on an individual. King Charles presented his first New Year Honours in January 2023, and among the recipients of the CBE was Dr Liane Smith.

Dr Smith’s CBE was originally made in the 2022 New Year Honours list of 2022 by HM Queen Elizabeth, for services to engineering and materials science.

Now, it’s not every day you get to grill a CBE. But we were given the opportunity recently. And a very great pleasure it was, too. Read on to learn about Dr Smith’s career, thought for the future, and, of course, her memories of the investiture on 31st January 2023.

What did you aspire to be when you were younger?

When still a child, I was always fascinated by the oil refinery at Stanlow when we drove past it as we headed for family holidays in Wales. I remember asking my teachers who knows what a refinery does. My chemistry teacher, who had a background in industry, simply said, “Chemical engineers.” So that’s what I set my heart on becoming.

I was advised that it was easier for girls to get into this field via the pure science route of chemistry, before shifting to engineering. Well, it was the 1970s!

So, how did you end up as a corrosion specialist?

I studied hard, and was accepted into Cambridge, where I read physical sciences including the option of Metallurgy and Materials. After two years of major chemistry, things were getting extremely serious. I’d also found Metallurgy and Materials exciting and interesting – so I shifted to this for my final year.

What was your first job like?

You know, there was a curious twist to my first job. I started my working career at Shell’s Research and Development Centre at Chester. Next door to Stanlow, the source of my initial interest in engineering.

I had asked to be able to do a PhD. Shell agreed, on the proviso that I wouldn’t be required to spend too much time away. I secured a ‘guaranteed’ three-year project. Shell agreed to publish the results – a key requirement of the PhD. The University of Sheffield offered flexible arrangements.

I had a 6kW CO2 laser to weld steel. Wonderful fun! I examined the welds using the electron microscopes at Sheffield during the weekends.

You decided to stick with Oil and Gas. How did your career progress?

I’d been working for Shell for four years when I requested a transfer. I was fortunate that a potential move to Head Office in the Netherlands became available.

I spent 2 years in the group that was conducting in-house Front End engineering & Design (FEED) studies at that time. I had the responsibility for selecting materials. There were no guidelines to follow. Scary stuff for a young engineer. So, I started to collect information on materials performance – a habit that has continued throughout my career.

It was here that I started to study CO2 corrosion problems with my boss Dr Kees de Waard, a famous expert in this field. I learned so much from him, and we’ve remained great friends.

From here, I spent a further two years with NAM – the largest gas company in the Netherlands. There I dealt with sour service processing plant and pipelines. I was also a senior welding engineer, with responsibilities for developing welding procedures for Alloy 825 clad pipelines along with my fellow welding experts within the company.

What have you enjoyed most about your career in corrosion?

Ask any engineer what they enjoy most, and you’ll probably receive the answer, “Being a part of a team that created something special, and seeing it come to life.” I’m no different, though in 42 years I’ve seen a few projects designed, built, operated and completely decommissioned and removed!

I’ve been blessed to work with great people in fantastic teams, and on some wonderful projects, at FEED or detailed engineering stages. Many large projects, too.

Perhaps the largest was the Shah gas project in Abu Dhabi, where I advised on materials from the wells through all the processing and through to a sulfur pelletising plant and trains to the coast.

I have also worked with some wonderful materials manufacturers across the globe, helping them to optimise their products for challenging service (like high-strength hydrogen-resistant steel). Making breakthroughs on products that open new markets is a fantastic feeling, too.

Increasingly, I work with operators who have enormous challenges to ensure existing assets remain operational as they reach or exceed their design life. It’s both challenging and satisfying to get into the detail of the history of operation, and then model the likely remaining wall thickness or tolerance to known defects so that safe limits can be put on continued operations.

What career advice would you give to a young corrosion specialist? 

Oh, this is easy to answer. Three things, really:

  • First, you made an exceptionally good choice of career. Thermodynamics is on your side!
  • Next, don’t over-plan your career. Go with the flow, and take opportunities as they arise.
  • Third, work hard. Take pride in your work, and accept the reward of the satisfaction in doing a good job.

There’s one other piece of advice I share specifically with females. You don’t need to build a career before you “take a break” to have kids. You don’t take a break from life – you get on with it and make it work. It’s amazing how you and your partner can make parenthood and the jobs work together. 

What is in store for corrosion professionals?

Plenty. By definition, corrosion isn’t about to disappear any time soon, our role is just to control it within manageable rates and forms, but as we learn more about it, and as industry develops in its breadth and geographical reach, the flow of new challenges will continue.

Would you recommend joining a professional body?

I’m very positive about membership of professional engineering institutions. I think that being a chartered engineer (in my case, through IOM3) is something to aspire to and work for. The maintenance of high standards in our profession is something that professional bodies, including the Institute of Corrosion, promote and uphold. They also establish a common core of skills for our profession for people entering it from different routes and at different levels of experience. And this is crucial in a rapidly advancing world.

What’s your favourite food?

I’m omnivorous, which helps enormously when travelling and you’re unable to identify the content of your dinner!

At home, we’re fortunate to be surrounded by farms. So we get to eat a lot of very fresh and organic food. I have to say, though, I’m particularly partial to a well-matured steak.

What do you like doing most outside of your professional life?

I love singing in choirs and have quite a high soprano voice. I’ve sung with many groups across the UK, and other countries in which I have been based over the years. And it’s not just the singing I enjoy; it’s a great way to make friends, too.

Tell us a secret about yourself, something that might surprise people who don’t know you.

I got married when only 20 years old. That’s something that many would find unbelievable today. It was a decision that worked out incredibly well. This year we celebrate 43 years together.

And here’s something that very few know about me. My maiden name is Smith, and I married a John Smith! When I was in the Netherlands the personnel department automatically called me Mevrouw Smith-Smith, which I said was ridiculous and I insisted to be just ‘Smith’.

And my friends and colleagues at Shell named me Smith Squared for a laugh!

Memories of Receiving the CBE

Of course, we couldn’t let Liane go without divulging a few details about being awarded Commander of the Order of the British Empire. It’s not every day you get to meet a CBE:

What was it like meeting our new King?

Quite the most wonderful privilege. It was in Windsor Castle and the rooms were stunning, the organisation immaculate, and the King was so friendly and interested.

How challenging was it to select your outfit for the day?

The dress and jacket were easily selected from my wardrobe. But I decided to invest in a new hat. It was fun to try on numerous options. My sons and husband wore morning dress and looked amazing, too.

Did you have to undergo any ‘instruction’ prior to meeting King Charles?

We were told where to stand and how to address him (Your Majesty, and then Sir thereafter). Plus, we were advised that he liked to shake hands, so not to hesitate if it was offered, which it was, and I did.

How did your sons react to the news when you finally were able to tell them during the Christmas/New Year break?

They were absolutely delighted and impressed. They’re waiting for me to get a coat of arms designed so they can use it also!

How has your CBE affected you in your professional life?

To be honest, I don’t see this as a recognition for my efforts in this industry and this profession. It’s an accolade that is for all of us. On a personal level, the most fantastic aspect was the response to me posting it on my LinkedIn page. Such a wonderful, positive response from so many people across the globe.

I don’t think it changes anything about how I do my professional life, but it shortens the CV!

Where on earth do you go from here?!

Currently, I’m still delving into the impact of corrosion on assets and trying to assist clients to achieve their objectives. It’s not stopped keeping me engaged and busy. As I said earlier, in the world of corrosion, our job is never complete!

Carbon Capture and Storage – The Impurities Conundrum

Carbon Capture and Storage – The Impurities Conundrum

Is Collaboration on Impurity Standards for CO2 Pipeline Transport Feasible?

Carbon capture and storage on a large scale is crucial in the mitigation of climate change. The more effectively we can introduce suitable carbon capture technology to achieve this, the more effective the fossil fuel industry will be in its response to combat CO2 emissions.

In our efforts to implement carbon capture, utilisation, and storage (CCUS) projects, we cannot ignore the impact of impurities in the CO2 stream. These impurities arise from various combustion processes at industrial sources and include water, nitrogen oxides (NO­x), sulphur oxides (SOx) and hydrogen sulphide (H2S). If not properly controlled and monitored, they can lead to corrosion of CO2 pipelines. Yet there are no agreed international specifications for impurity limits and CO2 composition during pipeline transport.

As conscientious corrosion scientists, engineers, and industry leaders, shouldn’t we be pushing for defined impurities standards and limitations to ensure long-term feasibility, improve sustainability, and help to deliver positive environmental change to our planet by reducing greenhouse gas emissions?

Impurities in carbon capture and storage systems are costly

Impurities in carbon dioxide during transportation and storage can affect components in the system. Research has shown that even a small level of impurities can alter a CO2 stream (and affect geological formations deep underground in permanent storage locations). This results in physical changes, such as phase behaviour and density of CO2:

  • Higher-density carbon dioxide can reduce system capacity
  • A change in phase behaviour can result in sub-par performance of the system

Both effects increase the costs of operation of carbon capture and storage systems.

Impurities in carbon dioxide also cause chemical effects within carbon storage and transport systems. However, unlike physical effects, these can take some time to become apparent. One such effect is an increase in dissolution rate in the caprock of a storage system, affecting both the reservoir capacity and injectivity. Another is the damaging corrosive effect of impurities in CO2 pipelines. As Gareth Hinds of the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) and a previous President of the Institute of Corrosion explains:

From a corrosion perspective, the most important impurity to consider is water. When the water concentration is below its solubility limit in dense phase CO2 (~ 2500 ppm under typical pipeline operating conditions in the absence of other impurities), no corrosion will occur. However, the presence of other impurities can increase the likelihood of corrosive phases forming, either by reducing the water solubility or via chemical reactions between different impurities.

Acid dropout is the most significant concern for pipeline operators, whereby highly corrosive aqueous phases, such as nitric and sulphuric acid, can form as a result of reactions between water, NOx, SOx, O2 and H2S impurities.”

Removing impurities from carbon capture and storage systems is also costly

The more of these detrimental impurities we can remove after we capture the carbon dioxide, the more effective and sustainable the system will become.

Herein lies the conundrum facing us. The potential corrosion caused by the impurities contained within captured CO2 can be extremely costly. But to separate these impurities can also have a significant financial impact on the cost of a carbon capture project.

Consequently, the feasibility of a CCUS system requires a degree of balancing between functionality and commercial viability. It’s a question of balancing the cost of purification versus the impact of the remaining impurities on the pipeline lifetime.

Why do we need standards for setting acceptable impurity limits in carbon capture and storage systems?

It is generally not commercially viable to remove all impurities from CO2 streams. However, to ensure that projects remain feasible while complying with regulations, we require suitable standards of acceptable impurities.

Guidelines and best practices have been published by many international bodies. These include Det Norske Veritas (DNV) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). While such moves are to be welcomed, Gareth points out that further research is required:

Under current regulations, the responsibility lies with the pipeline operator to carry out their own assessment and specify impurity limits during the design phase of a given CO2 pipeline project,” he says. “These limits can vary significantly depending on the composition of the CO2 stream, the economics of the purification technologies used and the operating conditions of the pipeline.

For CO2 specifications, thresholds in relation to acid dropout are set based on limited available data (often not lower than 25oC) and are therefore likely not conservative enough. The development of reliable standard test methods that are more representative of service conditions will go a long way towards addressing the issues.”

The challenges of regulating impurity standards for carbon capture and storage

Writing in Corrosion Management, the leading journal for corrosion control and prevention, Gareth highlights some of the key challenges facing the regulation and standardisation of acceptable impurity levels in the CCUS as we seek to reduce carbon emissions from many industries, including oil and gas:

Assessment of the risk of water and acid dropout in CO2 pipelines due to the presence of multiple impurities is a complex process, which requires an understanding of the thermodynamics of fluid composition, the impact of operating temperature and pressure variations (including potential upset conditions) and interactions between impurities.

In addition, published corrosion rate data in the open literature should be treated with caution due to challenges in control of test parameters and the high degree of uncertainty around the correlation between laboratory test data and real-world application. Combined with the relative lack of service experience in transport of CO2 captured from a range of industrial sources, this often leads to a degree of over-conservatism in materials selection.”

The bottom line

Impurities within captured CO2 are a significant concern, affecting operation, safety, and environmental sustainability. The costs associated with the presence of these impurities can be high, as can the costs of removing them.

Some international bodies have established guidelines for acceptable and safe levels of impurities within captured CO2. However, in the most part the responsibility lies with pipeline operators to conduct assessment and specify impurity limits during the design phase of a CO2 pipeline project.

Isn’t the current carbon capture and storage landscape in need of a more highly focused, collaborative approach to this issue?

Shouldn’t we work more stringently towards internationally recognised standards for impurities in CO2 in carbon capture, storage, and transportation?

And shouldn’t such standards be regularly updated as our knowledge and understanding of CCUS technologies improves with more robust data?

And finally, because each carbon capture and storage project is so unique, is it feasible to create a single set of standards?

We’d love to hear what you think. Or, if you have any questions that you would like to ask an expert, please feel free to get in touch by emailing the Institute of Corrosion.

Suggested reading:


ICATS and Correx ─ All You Need to Know

ICATS and Correx ─ All You Need to Know

Introducing the Industrial Coatings Applicator Scheme

ICATS may sound like a fancy slang word, but it stands for ‘Industrial Coatings Applicator Training Scheme’. It’s a scheme that has been designed specifically to meet industry demand for formally accredited training for applicators of coatings in the UK, and now around the globe. One of the primary functions of Correx Limited is to administer the ICAT scheme.

What is ICATS?

ICATS is a training and certification programme designed to provide standardised training and qualifications for industrial coating applicators. Those who have ICATS certification possess the knowledge and skills to carry out work as an applicator in a safe and planned manner.

The aim of the course is to improve safety and quality of industrial coating application. It is mandated by National Highways (formerly known as The Highways Agency), but is relevant across all sectors in which corrosion plays a role. These include construction, oil and gas, petrochemicals, nuclear and marine industries.

How does ICATS work?

ICATS is a comprehensive, structured training scheme covering various elements of coating applications, including:

  • Surface preparation
  • Coating techniques
  • Equipment usage
  • Health and safety
  • Environmental considerations

The Industrial Applicator section also includes:

  • Corrosion protection
  • Paint types
  • Painting inspection (QA and QC)

The framework of the programme allows individuals to progress from foundation skills to advanced techniques, gaining different qualifications and certifications on the way. Courses contain theoretical and practical learning. Newly qualified ICATS industrial coatings applicators receive an ICATS card according to the course the module they have passed. The scheme contains Industrial Coatings Applicator, Specialist Blast and Spray modules, and Supervisor and Technical Manager courses.

What are the benefits to individuals and companies?

The ICAT scheme delivers a host of benefits to individuals and employers who register to have their workforce certified. 

Benefits for individuals include:

  • Enhanced skills and knowledge, including a deep understanding of industry best practices. This helps to improve work effectiveness as well as the confidence of the individual.
  • Recognition of competence delivered by gaining a recognised qualification. This demonstrates competence and expertise, enhancing credibility, employability, and career prospects.
  • As a qualified ICATS operative, individuals are deemed to be up to date with the latest techniques to prepare surfaces and apply coatings in the safest way possible ─ helping them to exceed industry expectations, and ensure the quality and durability of applied coatings.
  • Greater awareness of health and safety issues and practices. This includes the ability to identify potential hazards, appropriate handling of materials, and proper use of personal protective equipment.

Benefits for employers include:

  • A competent workforce that can deliver high-quality coating application services, leading to improved outcomes, reduced reworks, and greater customer satisfaction.
  • A workforce that delivers work of a consistent quality, operating at industry best practices and standards. This helps a company to maintain a higher level of quality assurance.
  • Benefitting from greater competency across teams that have a strong foundation in surface preparation techniques, coating application methods, and equipment usage, efficiency and productivity improve.
  • Incorporating relevant regulations and environmental considerations, the ICATS scheme helps to ensure that employees remain compliant with industry standards, reducing the risk of the consequences of non-compliance (such as rework, project delays, penalties or fines).
  • A safer working environment, reducing the risk of potential health hazards, accidents, and litigation.
  • Finally, clients are more likely to select a company with ICATS-certified staff. This demonstrates a commitment to high standards, professional development, and high-quality work. In two words: competitive advantage.

Where does Correx come into the ICATS equation?

Correx Limited is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Institute of Corrosion. First registered in 2003, its role is to organise the commercial activities of the Institute of Corrosion.  Many people have asked where the name Correx came from – it is a combination of the words “Corrosion” and “Exhibition” –an early remit of Correx was to run exhibitions on behalf of ICorr.  Correx has a Board of Directors made up from senior members of ICorr including several past Presidents.  As already mentioned, to administer the ICATS . MD Kevin Harold explains more:

As the MD, my roles are very varied. The work I do for Correx takes around a third of the time available to me. I juggle these responsibilities with those I have as Technical Director for Paintel Ltd.

We’re a small core team at Correx with myself as MD and senior trainer for ICATS course. Robert Hurley is the second senior trainer and carries out ICATS audits for our 9001 certificate (he’s also senior painter and quality at Paintel Ltd.). David Mobbs assists with client communication, client visits, business development, and pretty much all things ICATS (his 40+ years of coatings experience is invaluable). At Head Office, Becky and Trish provide incredible help with admin and promotion ideas.

I also author the ICATS courses, a job with which my wife helps me by helping guide me through online courses and transfer of information ─ as well as being a daily sounding board for me.

This brings me to Correx board meetings, where we discuss ideas and keep everyone informed of what we are doing, who is responsible for what, and so on.

(Meet the Correx team.)

ICATS. Not a trendy word, but certainly a trending certification in the corrosion industry. Companies that are involved in industrial painting are finding this certification, accredited by the Institute of Corrosion, is proving to be highly beneficial. It enhances skills, knowledge, and qualifications for individuals, while providing employers with a skilled workforce, quality assurance, compliance adherence, and a competitive edge in the industry.

Want to know more?

Our team is ready to answer your questions. All you need to do is email us at

Using Corrosion Resistant Alloys in Upstream Production

Using Corrosion Resistant Alloys in Upstream Production

5 Key Considerations When Selecting a CRA

When should you use corrosion-resistant alloys in upstream production?

A straightforward and simple enough question. However, like so many questions concerning corrosion prevention, the answer is not quite as simple ─ especially when considering the complexities of corrosion management in the oil and gas industry.

Let’s start by describing what a corrosion-resistant alloy is before considering the steps to take when selecting metal selection in upstream installations.

What is a corrosion-resistant alloy?

The term ‘corrosion-resistant alloy’ (CRA) refers to specific metals or alloys that resist certain corrosion mechanisms. This makes them an excellent choice to combat material degradation caused by corrosion.

However, it’s important to understand that not all CRAs are equal. For example, 316L stainless steel is commonly used in upstream operations for its resistance to carbon dioxide (CO2) corrosion, but it is vulnerable to corrosion in oxygenated seawater.

Therefore, when selecting a CRA it is crucial to first define the corrosion mechanism or mechanisms that the CRA needs to combat – on both internal and external surfaces.

Corrosion-resistant does not mean corrosion will not occur

CRAs are only one of the weapons in the armoury of Materials and Corrosion (M&C) professionals. If only CRAs were the answer to corrosion, the job would be easy! Unfortunately, CRAs are not immune to corrosion in every environment. Indeed, it’s critical to understand this – and a key role of M&C engineers is to educate non-corrosion specialists on the limits of specific CRAs in specific environments.

Isn’t a CRA simply stainless steel?

It’s true that many CRAs are stainless steels and, for a long time, the term stainless steel was used generically to describe any metal that was corrosion resistant. But not all CRAs are stainless steel.

The term CRA emerged when industry started to use alloys without iron as their majority element in the battle against corrosion – such as nickel and titanium-based alloys.

Selecting an appropriate CRA: a step-by-step guide

When we select a CRA, it’s essential that we don’t replace one corrosion mechanism with another. If we do this, we could actually increase the risk associated with corrosion.

For example, many stainless steels are resistant to CO2 corrosion but vulnerable to cracking mechanisms like Chloride Stress Corrosion Cracking (SCC) and Sulphide Stress Cracking (SSC). This can happen suddenly and without warning with catastrpohic consequences. In many situations it will be preferable to have a corrosion mechanism where corrosion monitoring can detect corrosion problems before significant metal loss has occurred.

Five key considerations that we must make when selecting a CRA are:

  1. Cost
  2. Welding
  3. Galvanic corrosion
  4. Construction and commissioning
  5. Availability

CRAs are more expensive than carbon steels, and they require extra care when welding, adding to the cost of construction. Moreover, CRAs can function as a cathode, promoting corrosion of other metals, and they may not be readily available due to manufacturing challenges and mill constraints.

With specific regard to cost, we must consider ‘whole-life costing’. This includes the cost of procurement, construction, operation, and decommissioning costs. Typically, CRAs become more attractive as the required lifetime of a project increases.

We need to consider the expertise needed for welding, and if this is available near to the project site.

And in the construction phase, we must ensure that the CRA does not come into contact with a fluid that is corrosive to it – if this happens, then the CRA can corrode or crack before it enters operational service.

So, when should you use corrosion-resistant alloys in upstream production?

Because of the factors mentioned above, before we consider using CRAs we should assess using carbon steel. Indeed, this should always be the base case for construction. We can then compare CRAs to this, and evaluate under three main themes:

  1. Risk
  2. Operability
  3. Cost

The decision to use a CRA can be straightforward, such as when the corrosion rates of carbon steel are unacceptably high (risk) or when a combination of high strength and corrosion resistance is essential (operability). Risk and operability are intricately linked, and combine to create cost.

The decision to select a CRA in upstream production is often complex. There are so many factors involved. This is why it’s crucial to use M&C professionals to assess the risks and costs of both carbon steel and CRA options for a project. You may also require consultation with corrosion professionals with specialised knowledge of specific materials and types of corrosion to properly evaluate options.

Sometimes, the decision to use a CRA can be simple. For example:

  • When corrosion rates of carbon steel are unacceptably high
  • When the construction and operational costs for managing a carbon steel facility exceed the cost of using CRA for the project
  • When the risk of maintaining an active mitigation system for carbon steel equipment is unacceptable
  • When a combination of very high strength and corrosion resistance are essential

However, it is rarely this straightforward. Selecting CRAs for upstream equipment requires careful evaluation of numerous factors. While CRAs can be an excellent material choice, they are not immune to every corrosion environment, and it’s important to recognise their limitations.

Bill Hedges, past President of the Institute of Corrosion, covered this subject in greater detail in Corrosion Management, the leading journal for corrosion control and prevention and distributed to subscribers worldwide. Back issues are only available to members of the Institute of Corrosion.

To apply for membership of the Institute of Corrosion, click here.