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The University of Southampton
Rifi An Enterprise Consultancy Unit

Case Study: Preventing the corrosion of a gland used in systems built for the dairy industry

Objective: To test and recommend alternative corrosion and abrasion resistant materials for the design of a particular rotating component in a system which sterilises the cow teats after a milking operation.


  • ADF Milking supply dairy famers with milking systems which automatically sterilise and protect the cow teats against infection after milking operations.
  • A particular component in the system, (a milking gland made from austenitic stainless steel 316) was prematurely failing due to a combination of corrosion by teat dip solution and abrasion caused by an O-ring.
  • ADF wanted to test a range of materials before selecting a suitable alternative for the design of their new gland.
  • What we did

  • State-of-the-art non-contact optical microscopy and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) was used to identify the type of corrosion experienced by the gland.
  • A bespoke corrosion test methodology was designed to simulate crevice type corrosion.
  • The corrosion tests were carried out over 3 months under controlled conditions to replicate the actual operating conditions of the gland during service.
  • RIfI ranked each material relative to its performance measured/observed during the testing.
  • Leading experts from nCATS also provided some material performance-critical interpretations of the test results to reinforce RIfI's recommendations.
  • Impact

  • RIfI/nCATS recommended material which could significantly reduce crevice type corrosion during service.
  • ADF Milking Ltd implemented this material in the design of their new gland and have since not experienced failure of the gland.
  • The advice and recommendations reported by RIfI/nCATS have been deployed by ADF Milking for the design of other components.
  • Typical gland components
    Typical gland components
    3-D optical image of a typical 'pit' from a crevice corrosion attack
    3-D optical image of a 'pit'
    3-D colour map optical image of a typical 'pit' from a crevice corrosion attack
    3-D colour image of a typical 'pit'
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