The natural process that converts a refined piece of metal to a more stable form chemically like oxides, sulfides and hydroxides is termed as corrosion. The process is involved in step by step destruction of materials, most commonly metals with electrochemical or chemical reaction in a specific environment. The electrochemical destruction of metals reacting with oxidants such as sulfates or oxygen. Common example of electrochemical reaction, which involves formation of iron oxides is rusting. This in general, produces salts and oxides from the original metal with a typical orange coloration. The occurrence of corrosion is common, not only for metals but also for materials such as polymers or ceramics, although the term “degradation’ is more appropriate for such occurrence. The useful properties of structures and materials are degraded gradually including the strength, permeability to gases and liquids and even the appearance.
Alloys corrode when exposed to air moisture, although the process is, strongly affected due to the exposure for certain substances. Corrosion occurs in a concentrated form in a specific region that forms crack or pit, or even extends across a wide area uniformly corroding the surface. Corrosion is a diffusion controlled process, because of which it occurs in surfaces, which are exposed. Certain methods including chromate conservation and passivation increases the corrosion resistance of materials, although a lot of processes are quite less visible and predictable.
The process of corrosion is a natural event that weakens materials, or certain characteristics due to reactions with environment. There are some environments, which are much more suitable to chemically combine metals with certain elements for creation of compounds and revert back to the original energy level it was in previously. Corrosion is a serious condition that causes damage to the product, which include building, water systems, bridges and even home appliances until preventive measures are taken to pacify the effects of corrosion.
Disintegration of substances into atoms due to chemical reaction with oxygen or water in a specific environment, directly results in loss of electrons from the material. Complete electrical circuit has positively charged ions, that cause pitting or subsequent formation of cracks in the metal. The rate at which corrosion occurs is much greater in proportion in places where welding takes place causing micro structural transformation. Corrosions occurring locally initiates fatigue, which intensifies the action of corrosive factors like seawater. The strength of iron reduces exponentially due to the occurrence of oxidation of the atoms and formation of oxides takes place.
The most common occurrence of corrosion is the rusting of iron, that occurs due to the reaction of oxygen with iron in a humid air or water environment. Corrosion of metals also occur through chemical reaction with gaseous substances like ammonia gas, acid vapors, and gases that contain sulphur. This particular process involves degradation or weakening of certain metal parts, where the process are electrochemical in nature. Brittle and reddish crust forms over the surface of iron exposed to moist air or humid environment.
This formation of rust is reduced by removing the presence of water and air from the iron surface by applying paint, grease or oil, even coating with another metal like zinc, nickel or chromium also helps. There is no occurrence of corrosion in stainless steel due to coating with chromium or nickel, which can withstand additional attacks. Prevention for occurrence of rust is important to stop damage in costly equipment’s, appliances using several techniques. One of the process is galvanization, which is a metallurgic process where zinc, is coated or applied on iron or steel to avoid rusting, because zinc has a higher corrosion resistance than both iron and steel. Zinc coating is used to prevent corrosion by the creation of a obstruction physically, which functions as an anode when the obstruction is destroyed. Exposure of zinc to the atmosphere forms zinc oxide reacting with oxygen and zinc to further react with molecules of water with air to form zinc hydroxide. When zinc hydroxide reacts with carbon dioxide, it created an insoluble and thin layer of zinc carbonate that helps to further prevent corrosion. Corrosion prevention through galvanization is a preferred option due to the economical factor as well as easy application methods.
Another method, which is used in preventing corrosion where iron or steel, is safeguarded, prevented from corrosion, and rusting. The metal is protected by coating a thin layer of another metal having non-rusting properties to reduce the effects of corrosion. Generally, the metals in electrodes, that are processed inside an electrolyte through passing of electric current, from one end of the electrodes to the other end, through the electrolyte. This process is done by the connection of electrodes, to the negative supply, which gradually covers up with metal present in the electrode connected through the positive part of the electric supply and slowly disintegrates or reduces to get attached over the electrode. The electrode connected in the negative terminal is the one, which is getting electroplated to protect it from corrosion.
Electroplating is easier to understand by conduction of a simple experiment. Certain things like one piece of iron nail, water, one copper rod, copper sulfate crystal and 9 volt battery are required for the experiment. Fill a vessel with water, and add copper sulfate crystals and mix thoroughly. The nail is arranged and copper rod is immersed in the solution in a way such that they do not touch one another. The nail is the cathode terminal and copper rod is the anode terminal. Connect them to the battery, after which the process of electroplating initiates and after a period of time the dipped part of the nail is entirely covered with deposits of copper, which is received from the copper rod and becomes comparatively thinner due to erosion in the area immersed under water. The preventive measures for corrosion, which include galvanization as well as electroplating are comparatively cheaper measures to protect any metal surface from the effects of corrosion and subsequently protect the material from getting eroded and destroyed over a period of time.
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