Metal Corrosion: Causes and Cures

By: Roman Mcneil

Have you ever noticed the way some metals corrode when exposed to certain elements or materials? This is a natural process, which can be halted if the conditions are changed or a treatment is applied. If, however, there is no change in conditions or no treatment applied, metal will continue to corrode until it disintegrates. If you have ever wondered how corrosion occurs, then read on.

High temperatures

High temperatures can cause corrosion due to the metal heating up. If the metal is in contact with heat that contains oxygen, or compounds such as sulfur, the metal with oxidize. There is, however, a plus side to oxidization of metals. Oxidization can actually help protect many metals by providing a naturally protective layer which prevents further atmospheric attack on the surface. So some oxidization such as the green patina seen on bronze can be beneficial for the longevity of the metal.

Metal Dusting

Metal dusting is when metals are exposed to high carbon environments, such as synthesis gas. These gases and high-CO environments wear away at the metal and cause metals to break down into a powdery substance. Metal dusting is one of the most significant forms of metal corrosion.

Microbiologically influenced corrosion (MIC)

Microbiologically influenced corrosion (MIC) is when metal is attacked by microorganisms which eat away at the metal, usually in localized areas. These microorganisms (usually chemoautotrophs) produce hydrogen sulfide which can cause metal to oxidize and crack. MIC is most commonly found on metal which is immersed in sea water.

Crevice corrosion

Crevice corrosion is another localized corrosion which occurs in areas where the metal has little access to air. Areas such as metal seams and betweens parts and spaces become filled with deposits and begin to eat away at the metal.

Pitting corrosion

Low concentrations of oxygen or high concentrations of liquids such as chloride can interfere with the structure of metals. The metal, when under attack, will show signs of localized erosion in the form of pitting. If not treated, the erosion will continue. Pitting corrosion is one of the most common forms of metal corrosion damage.

Dealing with corrosion

Most metals can be treated to help prevent or halt corrosion from happening or advancing. There are many innovative corrosion management treatments around to stop corrosion from damaging metal material. Some metals are naturally resistant to corrosion, such as stainless steel. However, most metals can incur erosion problems. In some cases corrosion is removed using a chemical process. In other cases it is removed by removing some of the surface metal. The best way, however, to deal with erosion is to treat the metal in the first place before erosion occurs. There are many surface treatments and applied coatings that can be used on metal to help protect it from erosion. These treatments and coatings provide a barrier between damaging environmental factors and the metal structure. Most metals today are coated with a surface treatment to help preserve the metal, and then recoated again at intervals over the years. Alternatively some metals are painted in order to protect the surface. Painted metal coatings are easy to apply and provide an anti-corrosive protective seal on the surface. If you notice any metal material in your home under attack from oxidization you can call up a corrosion consultancy company to have a corrosion inspection carried out.

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Corrosion can be prevented in a number of ways and regular corrosion inspection helps you do just that. Click here to contact a corrosion consultancy.

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