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Preventing Metal Corrosion

Why worry about preventing metal corrosion? Metal corrosion is a serious problem. At USD 2.2 trillion, the annual cost of corrosion worldwide is over 3% of the world’s GDP

When corrosion occurs, it presents a real threat to structures. Buildings, roads, and bridges can be affected, which means that metal corrosion jeopardizes the public’s safety.

Preventing metal corrosion is an essential objective because it not only saves money but also saves lives.

This article explains what corrosion is, how it happens, the best methods of preventing metal corrosion, and how to protect your hard work.

For state-of-the-art finishing that offers unmatched corrosion resistance under the harshest conditions, contact us at https://minnesotaindustrialcoatings.com/

What Is Metal Corrosion? 

metal corrosion, a pile of rusted pipes

Simply put, metal corrosion is the process where metal interacts with the surrounding environment, such as air and water, and deteriorates. 

The speed and degree of this deterioration depend on several factors, including the type of metal and the environmental conditions.

For metal corrosion to occur, three conditions are necessary. These are moisture, an exposed metal surface, and an oxidizing agent.

When iron and steel corrode, the resulting oxide is commonly known as rust.

There are several things you can do to minimize corrosion. 

Are Certain Metals More Prone To Corrosion?

Preventing metal corrosion, rusted iron I-beams

Some metals are more susceptible to corrosion than others, such as pure iron. But all metals are prone to one type of metal corrosion or another.

Rust is a particular type of corrosion or oxidation that only occurs with a ferrous metal (one that contains iron). 

Some frequently used ferrous metals are carbon steel, alloy steel, and stainless steel. Other metals that do not contain iron can corrode but not rust.

Preventing metal corrosion starts with selecting the suitable metal. Certain metals are more corrosion-resistant. For example, stainless steel (combining steel with iron and other alloys) has significantly slower corrosion.

Although stainless steel alloys contain iron, it is resistant to rust because it contains a high percentage of chromium. The chromium oxidizes very quickly and creates a layer of chromium oxide on the metal surface. Thus, it stops oxygen from getting to the steel beneath.

A small group of Noble Metals super resistant to corrosion is gold, silver, platinum, rhodium, and palladium. 

Why Or How Does Corrosion Occur?

preventing metal corrosion, rusted industrial pipe

Corrosion is caused by the environment that surrounds the metal. It results from a chemical reaction that occurs when the metal reacts to surrounding liquids and gases.

As noted earlier, for steel to corrode, moisture must be present. Therefore, an electrolyte is needed for steel to corrode, and many electrolytes are solutions in water or some other solvent. Rust happens when the iron is exposed to rain and moisture in the air, saltwater, acids, or other harsh chemicals. The metal and moisture react with oxygen and form rust. 

That is why steel corrodes more slowly in dry climates. However, in humid and rainy climates, protecting steel is vital. The following environments make the corrosion process worse:

Corrosion in industrial areas is faster because of the acids, alkalis, and other chemicals found in smoke and other fumes.

Saltwater will corrode steel more quickly than freshwater. That is why areas near the ocean are particularly hazardous due to the effect of the salty air. 

Pipes underground will also be particularly susceptible to corrosion because clay and soil are good conductors of electricity.

Is there a way of Preventing Metal Corrosion?

coati metals, Painter powder coating a metal sheet

Metal corrosion is a reality that everyone who uses metal has to confront. Knowing the causes of corrosion is the first step to understanding what you can do to prevent it.

We know that three things are necessary for corrosion: an electrolyte, exposed metal, and an electron acceptor (air). 

Corrosion of metals is prevented by effectively eliminating one of these conditions.

For example, coating a metal surface provides a barrier between the metal and the moisture in the environment.

Let’s now look at this method of coating metals to prevent corrosion and others in a little more detail.

How Can Corrosion Of Metals Be Prevented? 

metal coatings, Painter E-coating metal beams

Here are some general ways in which corrosion can be prevented:

  • Maintenance
  • Take measures to change the surrounding environment
  • Use a sacrificial coating
  • Use a protective coating

Maintenance

This is a labor-intensive but effective way to slow down the damaging effects of corrosion. First, you can physically scrape off the rust as quickly as possible after it appears. Then, remove it with the good old-school method of scrubbing with soap and water.

Environmental Measures

The surrounding environment is the fundamental cause of corrosion. So logically, if you can control that environment, you can reduce the risk of corrosion.

To give a simple example, consider treating water in water boilers.  The treatment would modify such factors as hardness, alkalinity, or oxygen content. As a result, the metal that comes into contact with that water would have a reduced corrosion rate.

Sacrificial Coatings

Sacrificial coating refers to one method of coating metals to prevent corrosion. Coating the metal surface with another metal that is more likely to be oxidized protects the base layer. 

For example, steel is often coated with zinc, which is a more easily oxidized metal. The zinc is ‘sacrificed’ to protect the iron in the steel. This type of protection is ‘cathodic protection,’ also known as galvanizing.

Another way to protect the metal is by ‘anodic protection.’ This involves applying a coat of a less easily oxidized metal such as tin.

Use A Protective Coating

One of the most effective ways to prevent corrosion and rust is to protect your metalwork with industrial coatings. Coating metals with paint or enamel to prevent decay is a highly effective method. It places a barrier between the metal and the environmental moisture and oxygen. 

The higher the quality of the coating, the greater the protection. Minnesota Industrial Coatings (MIC) provides consistently high-quality industrial coatings, including powder coating and electrocoating (e-coating). 

We are one of a small number of companies that can offer both Powder Coating and E-coating. So when used together (E-coat base with Powder top coat), you get the best of both worlds. 

The result is quality finishes, with many color options and unmatched corrosion resistance, even under some of the harshest conditions.

Yes, metal corrosion is a serious problem. Protect your work with the best corrosion resistance, chemical resistance, scratch resistance, chip resistance, and overall-wearing surface available. 

To request an estimate, contact us today!

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