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Corrosion occurs when metal deteriorates due to a series of chemical reactions that take place between the metal and the environment surrounding it. The conditions in the environment and the type of metal both play a role in the severity of the corrosion as well as how fast it takes place. Gasses that come into contact with the metal also play a significant role in how the corrosion forms and its deterioration rate.
All Types of Metals Can Corrode
Any type of metal is subject to corrosion and therefore requires corrosion control. Iron is a type of metal that tends to corrode the fastest. Stainless steel tends to be a popular metal with construction workers and manufacturers because it corrodes slowly due to the fact that it also contains alloy. Some of the most valuable types of metals that resist corrosion naturally include copper, gold, palladium, platinum, and silver.
Understanding the Different Types of Corrosion
Metal can corrode in a variety of ways. In addition to adding alloy to a metal, another type of corrosion control is to carefully manage the environment where the metal sits. The primary methods of corrosion include the following:
- Environmental: Environmental stressors such as wind, rain, and severe weather can cause metals to eventually become brittle, weak, and fatigued as well as develop several cracks.
- Galvanic: This type of corrosion happens when two different metal types are mixed together in a type of liquid electrolyte. Salt water is a common example. Corrosion occurs when the molecules of one type of metal attract the molecules of the other type of metal. However, only one metal typically undergoes corrosion.
- General Attack: A general attack affects the entire surface structure of a piece of metal. It is a common reaction that occurs due to electrochemical or chemical reactions. If the people in charge of the metal ignore corrosion control for too long, the piece of metal can fall and cause widespread damage. This is the easiest form of corrosion to predict and control.
- Localized: This means that only a portion of a piece of metal has been impacted by corrosion. Crevice corrosion is a type that takes place under gaskets and other stagnant locations. Filiform corrosion happens when water gets underneath paint or another type of coating. Pitting corrosion means that the act of corrosion itself has caused small holes to form on the metal’s surface.
Prevention and Corrosion Control
When it comes to corrosion, builders and those responsible for maintenance and repair must consider both prevention and control. For example, engineers at the design stage should work closely with metallurgical experts to select the proper type of alloy or metal for the project that will resist corrosion as much as possible. That means remaining aware of potential chemical interactions between metal and fastenings, fittings, and surfaces. Without this awareness, corroded structures such as bridges and buildings can cause serious injury or death.
Corrosion control is equally important. This is a type of treatment once a structure is already in place. Several types of corrosion control currently exist. The most common forms of treatment include:
- Corrosion inhibitors: These substances reduce corrosion rates for certain types of metal by preventing contamination and heat transfer loss.
- Cathodic protection: This is a type of technology that promotes corrosion control by using direct currents in storage tanks, gas pipelines, and similar structures.
- Coatings and linings: These are a primary means of corrosion control applied directly to metal surfaces.
The company you hire to provide corrosion control should explain your options and assist you in choosing the most effective treatment.