(STL.News) Corrosion is a major problem for many industries, causing billions of dollars in annual damages and repair costs. Yet, despite the widespread prevalence of corrosion, effective strategies to prevent it are often overlooked.
For instance, a steel bridge built in the early 1900s in New York City had been corroding rapidly due to exposure to the elements and constant use. In an effort to save the bridge and prevent further damage, engineers implemented a combination of protective coatings, effective wire-pulling solutions, cathodic protection, and environmental measures.
The results were significant – the bridge saw a drastic reduction in corrosion, and its lifespan was extended by several decades.
In this article, we’ll dive deeper into each of these strategies, exploring the science behind them and providing real-world examples of their effectiveness. Whether you’re in the construction, transportation, or manufacturing industry, these techniques can help you prevent corrosion and protect your assets for years to come.
1. Protective Coatings
Protective coatings are crucial for preventing corrosion on various surfaces. They act as a shield against corrosive agents, preserving the integrity of the metal. Different types of coatings are available, including paints, varnishes, and polymers.
The correct coating depends on factors like the surface material and the operating environment. The Golden Gate Bridge’s orange color isn’t only aesthetic but also a protective coating. The paint contains zinc, a sacrificial anode that corrodes before the steel, preventing corrosion and extending the bridge’s lifespan.
As shown in Houston’s water and wastewater treatment facilities, epoxy coatings provide a barrier against moisture and chemicals, improving durability and strength.
Protective coatings save money and increase infrastructure longevity, whether for bridges or wastewater facilities. The primary principle of protective coatings is creating a barrier against corrosive agents, preventing them from reaching the metal underneath.
2. Cathodic Protection
Cathodic protection is an effective method for preventing corrosion on metal surfaces constantly exposed to water or soil. This technique uses a sacrificial anode or impressed current to protect the metal from corroding.
For example, the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System transports crude oil through the Alaskan wilderness and is protected using a combination of impressed current and sacrificial anodes.
The impressed current system generates an electrical current that protects the pipeline, while the sacrificial anodes corrode instead of the metal beneath, providing an additional layer of protection.
Similarly, sacrificial anodes made of zinc, aluminum, or magnesium can be used in boats and ships to prevent corrosion from spreading. This extends the lifespan of the vessel.
In summary, cathodic protection offers an effective solution for preventing corrosion in various applications.
Galvanization is an effective method to prevent corrosion by coating steel or iron with a layer of zinc that creates a protective barrier between the metal and the environment. The zinc coating corrodes before the steel or iron, thereby preventing corrosion from spreading.
This technique is highly effective in harsh environments, such as coastal areas where saltwater can accelerate corrosion.
Galvanization is widely used in many industries, including construction, automotive, and infrastructure. It can also be used alongside conduit-sealing bushing.
For example, highway guardrails are galvanized to prevent corrosion from salt and moisture exposure. Overall, galvanization is a highly effective technique for the protection of steel to prevent corrosion and extend the lifespan of steel or iron surfaces.
4. Environmental Measures
Environmental measures are effective strategies for preventing corrosion by controlling the metal’s exposure to the environment.
One way to do this is by modifying the pH level to make the environment less corrosive. This can be achieved by adding alkaline substances that neutralize the acid, reducing its harmful effect on the metal surface.
For example, sulfuric acid used in the extraction process in mining operations creates highly acidic environments that can corrode mining equipment and structures. Mining companies use alkaline stabilization to prevent corrosion by adding lime or other alkaline substances to the soil or water. That raises the pH levels and reduces the corrosive impact on equipment.
Another environmental measure is using dehumidifiers in storage facilities or warehouses. Moisture in the air can accelerate the corrosion process, especially in humid environments.
Dehumidifiers can control humidity levels and reduce the amount of moisture in the air, preventing corrosion from spreading and protecting metal surfaces.
In conclusion, environmental measures like pH modification and humidity control are effective in preventing corrosion. Creating a less corrosive environment protects metal surfaces from the damaging effects of moisture, acid, and other environmental factors.
Preventing corrosion is vital for preserving the safety and durability of metal structures and equipment. There are several effective strategies to prevent corrosion, like using protective coatings, cathodic protection, galvanization, and implementing environmental measures.
Each strategy offers unique advantages and can be customized for specific applications and environments. Implementing these preventive measures can ensure that businesses and industries avoid costly repairs and replacements associated with corrosion damage while maximizing the longevity and reliability of their assets.
The key to successful corrosion prevention is proactivity: identifying potential sources of corrosion and implementing preventative measures before damage occurs.
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