Kai Rui Wang

I received my Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering (Hons) & Finance from Monash University in 2016. As a PhD candidate at RMIT University, I am currently undertaking research into the corrosion of steel pipelines buried underground, with a focus on simulating soil external to pipelines and the interaction between the two.

My current work is on the characterisation of semi-solid agar, using it as a novel replacement for soil in the study of pipeline corrosion in the laboratory. Later, I will work with bacteria to observe the phenomenon that is microbiologically influenced corrosion (MIC). My research interests are in biotechnology and materials.  I hope to progress the development of soil-based corrosion studies, particularly MIC related studies, by developing this novel analogue of soil, thus contributing to the safer delivery of water to the millions of people. Outside university, I enjoy running the occasional half-marathon.

Image of Kai Wang


  • Electrochemical analysis (PDS - potentiodynamic scans)
  • Microscopic analysis (SEM - scanning electron microscopy)    

PhD Project

Topic: Expanding the Capabilities of a Semi-Solid Agar Based Test System for Studies into the Microbiologically Influenced Corrosion of Steel Pipes in a Soil Environment    

Risks of leakage and contamination are incurred by the corrosion of buried steel water pipelines, which cause health and safety hazards to the communities that potable water is delivered to. As much of the corrosion originates from the outer surface of the pipe, monitoring soil-to-steel interactions is crucial to understanding the physical and chemical mechanisms that cause corrosion. It was found that semi-solid agar could be a good analogue for simulating clay-based soil conditions for corrosion testing; however, a more systematic study needs to be carried out to investigate the metal-bacteria-environment interactions present in microbiologically influenced corrosion (MIC) situations. Detailed studies are currently being performed to analyse such interactions in the novel semi-solid agar system. The system as an analogue of soil, if validated, would allow significant advancements to laboratory-based research of corrosion in a soil environment, thus allowing the scientific community to better combat MIC for pipelines buried underground.    

Figure 1: Potentiodynamic polarisation curves of steel coupons using 4 g/L semi-solid agar and nutrients

Figure 1:

Potentiodynamic polarisation curves of steel coupons using 4 g/L semi-solid agar and nutrients

Figure 2: Electrochemical cell arrangement for lab-based corrosion tests

Figure 2:

Electrochemical cell arrangement for lab-based corrosion tests

Prior Work

  • K. Wang and W. Chong, “The Development of a Prototype Mixed-Gas Breakthrough System for Ethane/Ethylene Separation using Metal Organic Frameworks”, BEng thesis, Chem. Eng., Monash Univ., Melbourne, Australia, 2016


  • K. Wang, A. Spark, I. Cole and L. Ward, “Effects of electrochemical techniques on carbon steel in agar”, 2019, Corrosion & Prevention; 23-27 November; Melbourne 2019. Paper ID 45. p 1-11
  • A. Spark, K. Wang, I. Cole, D. Law and L. Ward, “Microbiologically influenced corrosion: a review of the studies conducted on buried pipelines”, Corrosion Reviews. IN PRESS. 2020. 

Further Information

  • Senior Supervisor: Dr Liam Ward (RMIT University)
  • Associate Supervisor: Prof Ivan Cole (RMIT University)
  • Associate Supervisor: Dr Amy Spark (AECOM)    

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Acknowledgement of country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business.