Activities & Expertise

Energy transition

Decarbonising our energy systems is a huge challenge. On the one hand, we have to switch rigorously from fossil energy carriers – counting today for about 80% of the global primary energy production – to renewable resources. On the other hand, global primary energy demand is expected to increase by more than 30% by mid-century. The fading out of fossil fuel consumption is expected to last a long time. So, for the time being, the core of the Energy Transition remains the generation of electricity using renewable energy resources, like wind, solar and hydro power. Even if the installation rate is temporarily slowing down in Europe, wind energy is expected to play the dominant role in our future energy supply. Solar energy is also considered a suitable choice, primarily in southern regions.

Thanks to OCAS’s network in the offshore wind industry, we are familiar with the concerns of the different stakeholders and are closely collaborating with them in the field of fatigue, corrosion protection and avoiding hydrogen embrittlement. Here, as in many other cases, the aim is to help customers identify the most cost-effective solutions for their installations.

We consider our expertise developed in our hydrogen lab to be one of our strongest assets for future solutions. Hydrogen is a clean energy carrier and will be increasingly used for energy storage of renewable power or fuel-cell powered cars and trucks. However, under service conditions during hydrolysis or redox reactions, the surrounding material, may be stressed by highly corrosive conditions. Here again, the challenge is to develop cost-effective solutions for lowering the barrier to the implementation of clean energy. In collaboration with our spin-off company Borit – which has direct access to the markets as a component provider – and as member of Hydrogen Europe, we believe OCAS is perfectly positioned to facilitate this task.

Economically viable long-distance onshore transportation of large quantities of carbon dioxide (CO2) in Carbon Capture and Sequestration projects, can be achieved using pressurised steel pipelines. To ensure safety and minimise risks in a hypothetical scenario of the pipeline accidental failure, OCAS has developed a coupled numerical model of the pipe decompression and the ductile fracture, under the framework of a European CO2QUEST FP7 project.

OCAS also has a long track record in the development of electrical steels for motors and generators. These new electrical grades, together with our support for the design of motors, including our numerical modelling expertise, will help to make optimum use of electrical power, in particular in the transportation sector. 

We want to contribute our part to solving the most important challenge facing humankind in the 21st century.

 

Related expertise to this activity

With our modelling and simulation tools, OCAS offers solutions for your design and engineering challenges in order to achieve maximum efficiency and to reduce costs. Depending on the complexity of your request, we choose the most appropriate approach in close collaboration with you. This can range from empirical and analytic tools to more advanced finite element modelling (FEM) tools. Thanks to a wide choice of available software tools our multidisciplinary team selects the best combinations to improve your product or process development. The outcome of simulations can be experimentally tested at our facilities and compared with real-life tests for validation purposes.

Our skilled staff can rely on state-of-the-art equipment for materials testing, joining & assembly. The OCAS labs are equipped with standard as well as customised test set-ups for large component testing.

Long term energy requirements, combined with the changing climate highlight the importance of developing non-fossil fuels. Although the "hydrogen economy" is not yet a fact, significant efforts are being made to design steel grades that  can be used to safely generate, store and transport hydrogen. However, to develop new materials with the necessary resistance to hydrogen, it's crucial to understand the mechanisms of hydrogen embrittlement and the interactions with microstructure.

OCAS has a dedicated hydrogen lab to study the fundamental mechanisms related to hydrogen embrittlement, and test set-ups for both hydrogen-induced cracking (HIC) and sulphide stress corrosion cracking (SSCC), as well as disk rupture test equipment using gaseous hydrogen at high pressures. A lot of competence has been developed over these past few years in terms of methodology, knowledge building, modelling and understanding the hydrogen embrittlement phenomenon.

Being involved in various projects on the effects of hydrogen on steel - from internal development projects and technical services to funded knowledge building projects with various European research institutes - OCAS took the initiative to organise the very first conference dedicated to steel and hydrogen in Europe. After the successful SteelyHydrogen2011 Conference, the scope was broadened and the attendance at the second and third SteelyHydrogen2014 and SteelyHydrogen2018 conferences, again organised by OCAS, confirmed that hydrogen is considered a crucial topic for developments in the steel and other alloys in the next decade. OCAS is pleased to announce that we are currently preparing the 4th edition of SteelyHydrogen2021 .

We develop your tailor-made alloys in small batches, from 100 g to 100 kg. Specifically for the development of new steel grades or special alloys, we can simulate an entire industrial production process on laboratory scale. This includes casting, hot and cold rolling, and annealing. Our production process for customised casting and rolling of metal alloys can be scaled up to an industrial environment. Recently, we automated our heavy gauge lab rolling mill and cooling pilot.

OCAS adapted one of its lab rolling mills to be able to switch to “bar mode”. Straight round bars with good ovality can be obtained. The lab bar rolling is compatible with OCAS’s lab casting tools. As such, the composition of the bars can be tailored to the client’s needs.

Apart from smart materials selection, we have experience in advanced materials testing and characterisation.

Our aim is to help you reduce your development cost (as there is less need for expensive industrial trials), to optimise your process and to enhance material properties. 

Joining and assembly at OCAS cover a large range of material types, thicknesses and industrial applications. We optimise your component and manufacturing route for assembly through welding, joining or adhesive bonding. Our facilities include all major arc welding processes - MIG/MAG, PAW, 5-wire SAW, TIG, MMA.  In addition, we are equipped for brazing, braze welding and adhesive bonding.  

You can benefit from our vast materials expertise, covering the full range of steel grades, including coated steels, as well as other materials, in a large thickness range from less than 1 mm to more than 200 mm. 

OCAS performs welding procedure development and qualification to relevant standards and is furthermore fully equipped to evaluate the welded joint in terms of mechanical properties. Our experienced welding team can advise you on further optimisation of your welding process, including the introduction of novel techniques. Allied technologies available include heat treatment and non-destructive evaluation of welded joints.

To minimise your health and safety risks in the welding shop, we offer technical support in the field of air quality and welding fumes. Our extensive spectrum of sampling - from gas to dust - and analytical techniques available - from composition to particle morphology - completes our offer for fume analysis.

Our dedicated adhesive bonding lab is fully equipped to apply and test strength and durability of structural bonds. 

Read more on our in-house welding capabilities.

Our welding team has highly skilled and experienced operators. All our welding project leaders are EWE/IWE qualified. Since 2012, one of our senoir research engineers welding chairs sub-commission C-XI-E 'transmission pipelines" of the International Institute of Welding (IIW) and is furthermore elected representative on the technical management board of IIW.  Since 2008, one of our senior project leaders of the surfaces department chairs the sub-commission Health & Safety for Welding of the Belgian standardisation body.

OCAS develops new functional and aesthetic surfaces for any metal substrate to meet your specific requirements. Our skilled staff can rely on state-of-the-art equipment to prepare, apply and characterise different coatings: organic, inorganic, metallic, hybrid and/or enamel coatings. Our aim is to optimise your surface functionality, lower your production cost and make your product more environment-friendly.

The complete coating and enamelling process can be simulated in our laboratory, using a wide range of technologies. The first step is the pre-treatment of substrates including for example degreasing, pickling, phosphating and passivation. Coatings are then applied by electrodeposition, spraying (wet or powder paints or enamels), dipping, spinning or using a roll coater. A more advanced technique is Chemical Vapour Deposition, allowing the deposition of very thin layers (20-50 nm) on a variety of substrates. Our curing methods include conventional, infrared (IR) and ultraviolet (UV) curing.

We are able to perform the full characterisation and testing of different technological aspects of surfaces from macro to micro and even to nanoscale: flexibility, adhesion, hardness, wear and staining resistance, colour, gloss, appearance, etc. Both outdoor exposure racks as well as accelerated corrosion cabinets are available to check the corrosion behaviour and durability of materials and coatings, including the evaluation of buried structures in different soil types.

In addition to these standardised tests, we are also equipped to perform electrochemical measurements using impedance spectroscopy, Scanning Vibrating Electrode Technique (SVET) and Scanning Kelvin Probe (SKP). Read more about how our scanning flow micro-cell boosts our study of fundamental corrosion reactions.

OCAS’s expertise in alloy and coating design, metal surface engineering, non-standard testing and modelling supplements Endures’s current knowledge on corrosion, electrochemistry, MIC (microbiologically influenced corrosion), antifouling and protective coatings. The Endures team of experts helps its customers to reduce their corrosion costs by selecting appropriate materials and protecting structures in marine and corrosive environments. Endures conducts applied research on vessels, offshore installations and land-based structures and buildings to determine the type of corrosion damage, including MIC (microbiologically influenced corrosion), and to prevent future damage. Based in the harbour of Den Helder, Endures has a C3/C4 seaside testing location to expose samples to maritime exposure conditions both aerial and immersed, as well in the tidal or splash zone. Endures also has a raft for efficacy tests of antifouling paints and can carry out lab experiments in running natural seawater.

Together with Flanders Materials Centre (FLAMAC), a division of SIM, we make an accelerated development of new coatings possible, thanks to the high-throughput experimentation technology. Specific software and equipment allows fast and precise preparation of the formulations. The High Throughput Technology is based on an automated formulation, application and curing of coatings. This quick screening not only allows for cost reduction. It also reduces the research time to obtain the perfect coating for your application, thus reducing your time-to-market. Explore Flamac's high-throughput experimentation technology service.