Corrosion Engineering

40 years and counting!

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Poseer un negocio. English translation: Own a business. Words of my mother since I was 6 years old. I always knew my work would fill a large part of my life and it does. I love that.
— Jose Villalobos

In 1979, our founder, José Villalobos, felt there was a need for an experience-based engineering firm that prioritized client service. His original services included corrosion engineering, civil engineering, and industrial waste treatment. He found that he could differentiate the firm by focusing on corrosion engineering with a specialty in evaluating, rehabilitating, and preserving municipal infrastructure. The first office opened on Commercial Street in Palo Alto, California and our clients included many cities, special districts, and contractors in the Bay Area. By 1982 we moved to a larger space in the historic Old Alvarado Hotel in Union City. In 1987, further growth prompted another move, to Oakland, where our corporate headquarters remain. Providing a valued service to the market allowed for our expansion to other cities – Houston, Texas; San Diego, California; Las Vegas, Nevada.  This year marked the opening of offices in San Antonio, Texas and Lakewood Ranch, Florida where we will continue to offer our specialized services to both existing and new clients. 

When hiring that first employee in 1980, we knew that creating a fulfilling and supporting environment for our staff would be critical for the success of the firm. Our early company foundation notes included a pledge to create a firm where engineers can enjoy challenging work and grow their expertise; and have a fun and engaging work environment.  Our dedication to our employees continues to this day with a commitment to a strong company culture grounded in our core values of honesty, integrity, respect, commitment, loyalty, and quality. 

One of the most rewarding things about being in business for 40 years is the strong relationships we have built with our clients over those years. We are working together to improve our communities and to protect public health and the environment.As our infrastructure ages and new challenges arise, we look forward to the continued partnerships. We are proud of this milestone anniversary and look forward to what we will learn in the next 40 years! 

Looking back . . . José Villalobos

Looking back . . . José Villalobos

The Partnership Between Cathodic Protection Design and Soil Resistivity Testing

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Soil resistivity relates to an increase in corrosion activity and therefore dictates the type of cathodic protection designed to protect metallic structures found in various environments. Common applications for cathodic protection are: steel water or fuel pipelines and steel storage tanks; steel pier piles; ship and boat hulls; offshore oil platforms and onshore oil well casings; offshore wind farm foundations and metal reinforcement bars in concrete buildings and structures. 

And how do we test the soil? In-situ soil resistivity testing is performed using the Wenner 4-Pin Method in accordance with ASTM G57. This test method involves the use of four metallic pins driven into the soil in a straight line at equidistant spacing. A ground resistance tester is used to discharge alternating current into the soil from the two outer pins. The current creates a voltage gradient in the soil proportional to the average resistance of the soil. The voltage drop between the two inner pins is measured, and the resistance of the soil to a depth equal to the pin spacing is calculated by the meter using Ohm’s Law. This gives us a snapshot of the level of corrosion beneath the surface, guiding us to the best Cathodic Protection design.

Permanent Canal Closures & Pump Stations Project

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V&A Consulting Engineers was retained by Stantec to provide corrosion engineering services for the United States Army Corps of Engineers’ Permanent Canal Closures & Pump Stations Project located in New Orleans, Louisiana. The project included the design and construction of three pump stations intended to discharge water from the city into Lake Pontchartrain in the event of flooding. A steel bulkhead structure was installed at each pump station to convey water from existing canals to the pump stations; the bulkhead structures consisted of multiple face and drag sheet piles driven to a depth of approximately 80-feet. Due to the corrosive environment at the project locations, cathodic protection (CP) systems were required to mitigate corrosion of the bulkheads.

V&A designed three cathodic protection (CP) systems for each pump station bulkhead; a galvanic anode CP system for the exterior water side of the bulkhead, a galvanic anode CP system for the exterior soil side of the bulkhead, and an impressed current CP system for the interior soil side of the bulkhead. CP system design calculations, details, and specifications were submitted for each CP system. Once the installation of the systems was complete, V&A performed a site visit to each project location to activate, test, and adjust the CP systems to ensure corrosion of the bulkheads was mitigated per NACE International SP-0169 criteria for adequate corrosion control. A report was submitted to present the data collected during the field testing and to provide recommendations for future operations and maintenance of the CP systems.