THE CORROSION BATTLE
The battle of corrosion is a constant fight because of the curse of all corrosion engineers – thermodynamics! The Second Law of Thermodynamics states, in simplified terms, that the naturally occurring state of metals is its lowest energy state, similar to humans on weekends. Metals ordinarily exist naturally as oxides (e.g. iron oxide, aluminum oxide, etc.) because oxides represent their lowest energy state. However, metal oxides are mined from the ground, and they are subjected to various unnatural acts – such as refining, casting, rolling, and forming into a variety of different shapes. These metals are now in an “activated” state, and do not want to stay there. They want to revert back to their naturally occurring state – oxides, or rust in the case of steel.
Metal failure due to corrosion is a ubiquitous and on-going problem for the general public globally. It causes hundreds of millions of dollars of damage annually and compromises the safety, environmental, and appearance characteristics of the affected metal. When that occurs, I am often contacted by attorneys representing clients whose metal has failed in service to act as expert witness and determine why the metal has failed.
WAYS TO MITIGATE CORROSION OF METALS
There are several ways to minimize the corrosion of metals. The most obvious, though not usually possible or practical, is to eliminate the causes of corrosion such as exposure of the metal to corrosive environments such as harmful chemicals, pollution, moisture, oxygen, high heat, etc. If eliminating the source of corrosion is not possible, as in most instances, there are several practical ways to reduce the corrosion of metals. These include:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Robert A. Iezzi, Ph.D., is founder of RAI Technical Solutions®, Inc. (www.rai-technical-solutions.com), a technology company that provides expert witness and consulting services on corrosion, metal coatings, paint coatings, surface preparation/pretreatments for metals and plastics prior to painting, and plastics.
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