US Bureau of Reclamation

Rust Busters Challenge

Rust Busters Challenge

Join the Resistance: Submit your rust busting breakthrough to extend the life of water infrastructure in the United States.

Challenge Overview

Water infrastructure in the United States is critical to the domestic economy, commerce, and resource management.  There are thousands of existing hydraulic steel structures (HSS) that require regular maintenance and upkeep. Original methods to protect HSS are disfavored or no longer used due to environmental and safety concerns.  Newer approaches to corrosion control suffer from higher costs, shorter service life, and reduced efficacy.  

In order to address rising maintenance costs and to advance the state of the art for corrosion control, the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation), in collaboration with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), is sponsoring this two phase Rust Busters Challenge.  This Challenge seeks to identify and develop new methods for corrosion control. The Challenge sponsors are vitally interested in completely new approaches that are outside of conventional thought processes for corrosion control that can be applied to existing structures in situ. There is also interest in advancing existing technologies that can significantly improve service life, reduce costs (through innovative application methods or use of new materials), or improve performance range (through additional features such as health monitoring or self-healing).

This Rust Busters Challenge offers the opportunity for the most compelling corrosion control approaches to be evaluated and field-tested by the Challenge sponsors.  In Phase 1, participants will submit a paper containing the proposed approach to corrosion control, its scientific rationale, and any supporting data. Up to 5 of the most compelling submissions will be selected as Phase 1 winners.  Only Phase 1 winners can participate in Phase 2, and each Phase 1 winner will receive up to $50,000 to help support Phase 2 efforts. During Phase 2, participants will demonstrate their technologies using test coupons supplied by Reclamation.  Test coupons and/or prototypes will be evaluated by Reclamation, and up to 3 final winners will share the final prize of $100,000. This Challenge has a total prize purse of $350,000 ($250,000 in Phase 1 and $100,000 in Phase 2). It offers a rare opportunity for Phase 2 participants to receive lab- and field-test data for their technologies and additional possibilities to continue working with Reclamation to further develop their technologies. 

Challenge structure overview:

Phase 1 

  • Open to everyone
  • Submissions must be received by January 16, 2020
  • Top 5 submissions selected to advance to Phase 2.  Winners each receive $50,000 award money and test coupons for Phase 2 (total of $250,000 awarded)

Phase 2

  • Only 5 Phase 1 winners are eligible to participate
  • Test coupons and/or prototypes must be received by September 11, 2020
  • Up to 3 winners will be selected and will share in a $100,000 final prize.

What You Can Do To Cause A Breakthrough

  • Click ACCEPT CHALLENGE above to sign up for the challenge, view the submission form, and get on our email list
  • Start a conversation in our Forum to join the conversation, ask questions or connect with other innovators.
  • Share this challenge on social media using the share icon above. Show your friends, your family, or anyone you know who has a passion for discovery.
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Challenge Updates

Don't Miss Out! Q & A Webinar Wednesday

Nov. 15, 2019, 5:12 a.m. PST by Kyla Jeffrey

Join our webinar this Wednesday, November 20th at 9 am Pacific Time (Los Angeles) to learn from the US Bureau of Reclamation. We'll share our top tips for entering the Rust Busters Challenge and answer your burning questions live.

By attending this webinar, you can expect to come away with:

  • What you need to consider to craft a successful entry
  • Why this challenge is crucial to both Reclamation and the US Army Corps of Engineers
  • Answers to commonly (and uncommonly) asked questions.

Save your Seat

Have Questions? We Have Answers!

Nov. 12, 2019, 10:55 a.m. PST by Kyla Jeffrey

Join the US Bureau of Reclamation for a webinar where you have an opportunity to ask your questions LIVE! You won't want to miss this opportunity to get the inside scoop on the Rust Busters Challenge! 

Submit your questions in advance when you register or by commenting on this update.

Time: Nov 20  at 9:00 am Pacific Time (Los Angeles)


Sign Up Now

Introducing our next judge, Allen Skaja

Nov. 11, 2019, 7 a.m. PST by Natalie York

Allen Skaja

Chemist at the Bureau of Reclamation

Dr. Allen Skaja started with the Bureau of Reclamation in 2005. Research interests are corrosion protection using protective coatings and evaluating coatings for mussel control.

Introducing Challenge judge, materials engineer Jessica Torrey

Nov. 6, 2019, 7 a.m. PST by Natalie York

Jessica Torrey

Material Engineer at the Bureau of Reclamation

Jessica Torrey is a Materials Engineer at the Bureau of Reclamation in Denver, CO.  She has a Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Washington, Seattle, WA.  Her research interests include improving efficiency and monitoring of cathodic protection systems for fresh-water immersion service and corrosion condition assessment and asset management planning for Reclamation’s hydraulic and pipeline infrastructure. Dr. Torrey co-manages the Infrastructure Sustainability theme area of Reclamation's Prize Competition program.  She is a NACE-certified Cathodic Protection Technologist (CP3) and Coating Inspector – Level 2.

From the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, introducing challenge judge Jonathan Trovillion

Nov. 5, 2019, 7 a.m. PST by Natalie York

Jonathan Trovillion

Research Materials Engineers at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Mr. Trovillion has been a Research Materials Engineer at the Engineer Research and Development Center, Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (ERDC-CERL), for 29 years conducting research that integrates predictive modeling with experimental analysis to solve Army problems for both military and civil works applications. Mr. Trovillion received his BS degree in Engineering Mechanics in 1990 from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign with an emphasis on polymer matrix composites and experimental stress analysis. He has also completed additional post-graduate studies in Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Illinois with a primary focus on Polymer Science. His areas of expertise include micromechanical modeling, degradation modeling, multifunctional nano-reinforced composites, self-healing materials, experimental stress and failure analysis, and selection of engineering materials, with an emphasis on polymers and polymer matrix composites. His experimental experience covers the range from coupon-level to full-scale structural, seismic, and vibration testing and analysis. He has been an integral member of collaborative research teams including government researchers, academia, and commercial partners developing advanced materials to increase service life, reduce maintenance, and lower life-cycle costs.

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