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What is Corrosion?

Defining corrosion

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What is Corrosion?

Severely corroded steel pipes.

Image: Terence Bell

Corrosion is the deterioration of a metal as a result of chemical reactions between it and the surrounding environment.

Both the type of metal and the environmental conditions, particularly what gases that are in contact with the metal, determine the form and rate of deterioration.

Types of Corrosion

The most common example of corrosion is, of course, rust. The reddish-brown compound referred to as rust is actually iron oxide (Fe2O3), a result of reactions between oxygen and iron.

But the oxidization of iron is just one example of corrosion. Corrosion can take many forms, which are classified depending on the environmental causes. More...

Corrosion Prevention

The World Corrosion Organization estimates the global cost of corrosion to be roughly US$ 2.2 trillion annually, and that a large portion of this - as much as 25% - could be eliminated by applying simple, well-understood prevention techniques.

Corrosion prevention should not, however, be considered solely a financial issue, but also one of health and safety, as evidenced by the 1967 collapse of Silver Bridge.

An effective prevention system begins in the design stage with a proper understanding of the environmental conditions and metal properties. More...

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