Updated: Sep 13, 2022
Estimates of the cost of corrosion ranges from 1 to 5% of the Gross National Product (GNP) of a country. Yes, that is billions to trillions of moneys lost unnoticed. Whether mild or severe, corrosion on metals especially steel can cause expensive or irreparable damage to equipment and vital structures.
Corrosion is almost unstoppable and expensive to repair when it has started. This is why it must be anticipated or treated as early as possible to avoid major losses.
The most economical way to prevent corrosive disasters is to employ corrosion protection on steel right in the first place. However, deciding on what preventive measure to adapt is crucial.
What is Corrosion?
Corrosion is the deterioration of a material, often a metal, due to reaction to its environment – atmospheric conditions.
The word corrosion comes from the Latin "corrodere" meaning "to gnaw to pieces."
The Effects of Corrosion
Corrosion causes harsh damage to steel, weakening and losing its efficiency, which causes failure, and affects infrastructures, businesses, people, and even the environment.
Primarily, it impedes the efficacy of products used in the construction, such as the corrosion of materials used significantly in construction projects exposed in water, buried, or submerged systems, including sheet piles, steel pipes, marine bollards, and fabricated steel structures, and other steel products.
Furthermore, corrosion in construction industries often leads to revenue loss and increased operations or maintenance costs.
Types of Corrosion
There are many types of corrosion, but the most common are electrochemical and environmental. Electrochemical corrosion process occurs when metals are exposed to oxygen and water. This combination creates an electrolyte that can cause the metal to corrode.
Environmental corrosion is a natural process that occurs when metal mingles with water and oxygen. This combination causes a chemical reaction that breaks down the metal. The rate of corrosion depends on the type of metal, the amount of water and oxygen exposure, and the presence of other chemicals.
Corrosion Protection on Steel: How to Control Corrosion
Corrosion, even it is a normal occurrence, is still a controllable process.
There are many ways to control corrosion including protective coatings, corrosion-resistant alloys, the use of sacrificial anodes or cathodic protection, and more.
The most common and simplest way to control corrosion is protective coating. This works by applying coating films on metals to create a barrier between the material substrate and underlying substance or environment. Paint is a very common type of protective coating but tar, bitumen, and plastics such as polyurethane are also used. Powder coating has also become popular due to their effectivity in many applications.
Another method of corrosion protection is cathodic protection. This method controls corrosion on certain metals by using a more corrosive coating on their surface such as zinc. Galvanizing or hot dip galvanization and anodizing are those of the exact illustrations of this technique. As a weaker element, the coating corrodes in place of the encapsulated metal or steel.
Corrosion Protection Using Steel Sacrificial Anodes
The use of steel sacrificial anodes is one type of cathodic protection especially for submerged or underwater steel or metals. Sacrificial anodes are more corrosive types of metals such as zinc, aluminum, and magnesium. They are attached to the more superior, protected steel knowns as cathodes, to sacrifice themselves to corrode instead of the cathode. These sacrificial anodes are placed strategically in locations where they will effectively protect the steel from corrosion.
Economic Impact of Corrosion
In 2016, NACE has estimated a loss amounting to $2.5 trillion which is equivalent to 3.4% of the global GDP. Developed countries generates most of these costs. In United States alone, corrosion costs around over $300 billion a year.
Production and usage of corrosion-resistant materials have by far reduced metal corrosion losses by about 1/3. However, most of these innovative materials are not highly sustainable like steel, resulting to production limitations and high costs which are of course a problem to economies.
At the other hand, the application of cathodic protection along with appropriate coating materials has been proven to be most economical when protecting large and critical assets especially buried or underwater pipelines that carries water, petroleum products, natural gas, and others.
Corrosion has been every organization’s challenge for years when comes to keeping infrastructures functional and efficient throughout their designed life span. This is not just to protect bigger revenues and avoid enormous property damages but environmental degradation as well.
Protective Coating Services: The Economic Decision
Choosing the best corrosion protection measures for a project is an investment that can save tons of money over time. The bigger the asset, the more reasons why a high level of expertise in the business is required. Contact us today to start making a difference.
Why ESC? ESC is a proud provider of corrosion protection products and services to hundreds of industries worldwide. We have over 30 years of experience in the global market in supplying corrosion protection solutions such as Coal Tar Epoxy Coating; Glass Flake Epoxy Coating; Hot Dip Galvanization; Duplex Coating System, Cathodic Protection Systems, and Sacrificial Anodes.