NEWS | July 23, 2012

Mr. Keith Lucas Honored with Captain Robert Dexter Conrad Award

By Donna McKinney

Mr. Keith Lucas, a materials research engineer at the Naval Research Laboratory, is honored with this year's Captain Robert Dexter Conrad Award. Mr. Lucas is cited for his research in marine corrosion control and prevention. Presented on June 5th, 2012, by Chief of Naval Research, RADM Matthew Klunder, the award, named in honor of Captain Robert Dexter Conrad (1905-1949), recognizes outstanding technical and scientific achievement in research and development for the Department of the Navy.

As former Director of the Center for Corrosion Science & Engineering at NRL, Mr. Lucas led a multidisciplinary team of scientists and engineers in science and technology programs in the fields of corrosion science and corrosion control. During his tenure, the Center's programs spanned the range of mechanistic research into the environmental effects and degradation of materials to the design, prototyping and implementation of corrosion control systems on U.S. Navy ships and submarines.

Mr. Lucas's contributions to the field of marine corrosion and corrosion control and his contributions to the U.S. Navy fleet through improved understanding of marine materials and cathodic protection have significantly extended the useful life of ship structures, increased U.S. Navy operational capabilities and reduced the total ownership costs of U.S. Navy ships and submarines. Mr. Lucas has contributed to these fields through both direct scientific exploration and technical leadership. He is internationally recognized as a leading authority in the mechanisms, development and design of cathodic protection systems for the corrosion control of marine ships and systems, and through his leadership has established NRL's Center for Corrosion Science and Engineering as the US Navy's Engineering Design Agent for cathodic protection systems.

Mr. Lucas began his NRL career in 1986 as a materials research engineer working at the NRL's Marine Corrosion Facility in Key West, Florida, eventually becoming the section head and facility director in 1993. Mr. Lucas, together with colleagues, studied the effects of electrolytic chlorination on materials, the environmental effects on metallic and non-metallic materials, the principles of corrosion monitoring and detection and the theory and practice of cathodic protection design. Starting in 1990, Mr. Lucas and his colleagues began two decades of scientific research in the field of cathodic protection modeling. Mr. Lucas' early efforts led to a better understanding of the mathematical principles and scaling laws for the physical scale modeling of marine vessels for the purpose of cathodic protection. His research showed that by using Physical Scale Modeling (PSM) of impressed current cathodic protection systems (ICCPs), it was possible to scale electrolytic path lengths to accurately and repeatedly simulate full-scale electrochemical systems.

Mr. Lucas's research allowed, for the first time, a systematic and quantitative approach to underwater hull corrosion control system design, which previously had been an artful practice with relatively low reliability and predictability. The principles he helped to establish for PSM of cathodic protection systems are now documented in the Navy Technical Publication for Cathodic Protection Design and the PSM method is the singular method qualified for U.S. Navy design. To date, eight USN ship classes and three USN submarines classes have ICCPs designed by this method. In addition, both the UK Navy and French Navy have active research programs based on these concepts.

Mr. Lucas built on these successes with new applied research in methods for corrosion monitoring and detection. Corrosion-related maintenance in the U.S. Navy has been documented as a $2.4 billion cost from which the corrosion-related maintenance of shipboard tanks and voids presented the number one corrosion cost. During the early 1990s, Mr. Lucas began a series of programs to develop the capability to sense, detect and monitor the state of preservation in Navy ballast tanks. Ultimately these programs resulted in the invention of a new approach to corrosion monitoring. Mr. Lucas and his co-inventors developed a paired reference electrode and instrumented sacrificial anode system combined with a remote data logger, which allows for a remote assessment of shipboard tanks and voids. These early works provided the foundation for later development of tank monitoring systems, which are now being implemented in the surface combatant Fleet. These systems provide an annual savings of $9.96 million per year by reducing the ballast tank opening, gas-freeing and manned entry that is done for tank coating inspections.

In 2000, Mr. Lucas was promoted to Branch Head in the Chemistry Division and Director of the Center for Corrosion Science & Engineering, where he distinguished himself in growing the Center's basic and applied research portfolio. In particular, through his tenure until 2009, Mr. Lucas guided the Center's scientists and engineers to several hallmark scientific and engineering achievements. Specifically during his time as Center Director, researchers developed and transitioned to the Fleet rapid cure, single coat tanks coatings, tank monitoring systems, the Insertable Stalk Imaging Systems and development and testing of the most sophisticated ICCP systems in existence on the USS VIRGINIA Class Submarine. Any of these programs are worthy of acclaim and awards in their own right, but Mr. Lucas provided the leadership and scientific guidance necessary to make these S&T achievements possible.

Mr. Lucas is the author/coauthor of more than 100 publications/reports, a member of the National Association of Corrosion Engineers, Steel Structures Painting Council, and the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers and is internationally active in TTCP MAT-6 Coatings, ABCANZ - Materials Technology and in various Defense Exchange Agreements/Information Exchange Agreements. He holds a bachelor's degree in Geology/Geochemistry from Northeastern University and a master's degree in Applied Ocean Science/Materials from the University of Delaware. In 2006, he was a charter recipient of the Department of the Navy Top Scientists and Engineers Award and recently was a 2012 recipient of the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award. Currently he is serving as an NRL Senior Scientist and remains a principle investigator on numerous projects in corrosion, cathodic protection and coatings technology and is a key person in fleet liaison teams.