A Solution To A Costly Problem
The physical and economic effects of corrosion
Most people associate corrosion with rust, which only happens in things made of ferrous metals such as steel girders, ships, iron pipes, steel reinforcement rods, and steel tanks and is the reason metals deteriorate and fail.
Ferrous and non-ferrous metals corrode on contact with both fresh and salt water as well as water vapor. They will also corrode when they come in contact with chemicals, liquid acids as well as acidic vapors, salts and bases, and bacteria.
Corrosion is also found in electronics from circuit breakers and contactors to wire bond connectors and soldered components on a printed circuit board. Electrical connectors and plugs are very prone to corrosion as well as non-ferrous metals and alloys such as copper and aluminum. For purposes here, corrosion can be defined as a chemical or electrochemical reaction between a material, usually a metal, and its environment that produces a deterioration of the material and its properties.
Corrosion is an increasingly serious and costly problem that can lead to plant and equipment failures as well as steel bridges, ships, and buildings. These failures range from being an annoyance to being catastrophic. Failures caused by corrosion could and do lead to a direct failure of a component which could affect the entire system and can not only be very expensive in terms of down time to repair or replace plant and equipment, but can also prove to be very costly in loss of productivity but to human life and health as well as to the environment.
From governments to private enterprise
From governments to private enterprise, the questions to consider are:
Are corrosion prevention programs worth the cost?
What is the cost or Return On Investment of a corrosion prevention program?
One way answer that would be to ask the question:
What is the cost in terms of lost profits and productivity if the equipment fails and has to be taken out of service for repair or has to be replaced entirely because it corroded?
In 1971, T.P. Hoar stated in his report to the Committee on Corrosion and Protection in England, that “…corrosion control or prevention of even small components could result in major cost savings because of its overall effect on the entire system rather than just the components.” It is much simpler and a lot less costly to prevent corrosion than to repair or replace the damaged equipment or components that failed because of corrosion.
If an electrical component fails that affects your car that is just an annoyance and can be repaired fairly inexpensively and if you’re driving the car rolls to a stop and you get out. However, if an electrical system failed because of a corroded electrical contact in an electrical circuit which caused another electrical failure in the master fuel control system on an airliner at 30,000 feet with 250 people on board that could prove to be catastrophic. While the electrical contacts in both cases failed due to corrosion both failures could very well have been prevented by using Super CORR A in a Corrosion Prevention Program incorporated into all routine maintenance programs.
The U.S. Federal Highway Administration funded a two year, 1999 – 2001, study “Corrosion Costs and Preventive Strategies in the United States” that was released in 2002. The results of study by NACE International and CC Technologies Laboratories “that the total annual estimated direct cost of all corrosion to be a staggering $276 billion – approximately 3.1% of the U.S. gross domestic product.”
The indirect cost of corrosion in lost time, and thus lost productivity because of outages, delays, failures, and litigation, was conservatively estimated to be the same as the direct costs giving a total cost of corrosion of $552 billion or about 6% of the U.S. GNP.
The NACE study also stated that corrosion is so prevalent and takes so many forms that its occurrence and associated costs will never be completely eliminated; however, the study estimated that “25 to 30% of annual corrosion costs could be saved if optimum corrosion management practices were employed.” That is a savings of between $69 and $83 billion dollars by using optimum corrosion management practices. Corrosion cost studies have been done in a number of countries including the United Kingdom, Sweden, Germany, and Finland where the studies pointed out that the annual cost of corrosion ranged as high as 5% of GNP.
A 2001 study in the U.S. by the Electric Power Research Institute estimated the cost of corrosion in the electrical utilities business was approximately $6.9 billion, in gas distribution $5 billion, and in drinking water and sewer systems $36 billion per year and that was the direct costs.
The question to be asked by both government and private industry is:
Is the investment in corrosion control and prevention worth the cost?
Does the return on investment in Corrosion Prevention and Control out weight the money lost in man hours to repair or replace a piece of equipment as well as the money lost through that piece of equipment being out of service?
What is the cost to replace a bridge because of corrosion vs. the man hour cost of corrosion control? What is the indirect cost of having to replace a bridge?
What is the cost of corrosion prevention to an electrical company? Is it cheaper and less disruptive to have a routine maintenance program spray
SuperCORR Aon electrical cannon plugs to prevent corrosion failures and loss of electrical power?
It is much simpler and a lot less costly to prevent corrosion than to repair or replace the damaged equipment or component that failed because of corrosion.
Preventing and Controlling Corrosion
There are many different methods of preventing and controlling corrosion. One approach to prevent and control most corrosion problems is to first understand the corrosion type involved, then remove or prevent one or more of the components or elements causing the corrosion to react. A heat source, oxygen, and fuel are three legs of a fire. If you remove any one leg the fire is out. Putting an ultra-thin film coating barrier such as Super CORR A between a metal and a corrosive environment a fundamental method of corrosion control. It is much simpler and a lot less costly to prevent corrosion than to repair or replace the damaged equipment or component that failed because of corrosion.
A drop of water on a metal surface creates an electrochemical cell. While the metal may be uniform in its composition the water droplet is not pure H2O, and that is all that is required to start corrosion.
Common coating application methods include using a brush or roller, spraying, and dipping. In addition to proper coating selection and application methods, substrate preparation is critical to the success of the coating. The majority of coating failures are caused either completely or partially by faulty surface preparation, such as leaving contaminants on the surface or having an inappropriate surface for the coating used or vice versa.
SuperCORR Ais a non-conductive, non-flammable, hydrophobic, ultra-thin film lubricant and corrosion preventive compound. It is a “self healing” ultra-thin coating that lubricates and protects metals, motors, electrical and electronic components from moisture, salts, chlorides, acids, and oxidation.
Corrosion under insulation (CUI) in the chemical and petrochemical process industries is particularly concerning. Water penetrating insulation material will load the insulation with a concentrated salt solution. The material flowing through the pipe creates heat which causes concentrated salt solution to dry out. In shut down periods the cooling of the hot metal pipe insulation will cause the concentrated salt solution to condense and come in contact with the pipes metal surface. When the pipe is re-heated by the flow of material through it the pipe will be in contact with the saturated salt solution which is very corrosive. These cycles create the acceleration of corrosion damage such as stress corrosion cracking. This accelerates corrosion and could cause extensive damage to plant and equipment and the environment as well. Corrosion under insulation is unseen and very dangerous. If you can stop the moisture from contacting the metal surface, the corrosion process stops.
Electrical components, wiring and stray current corrosion is a real problem in electrified rail systems and Light Rail Transit Systems. Stray-current corrosion occurs at the point where the current leaves the pipeline, carrying iron ions that became positively charged when they lose one or more electrons. The damage is unseen but the effect can be major. A 1-ampere current discharging continuously from a steel pipeline will remove approximately 20 pounds of steel in a year.
Since many LRTs are located in crowded utility corridors and in city streets with gas and oil pipelines and other underground utilities and structures, uncontrolled stray current can cause extensive damage to rail and concrete reinforcing steel, cables, and pipelines. By one estimate, stray-current corrosion damage in the U.S. may total over $500 billion annually.
Above: Corroded beyond repair
Above: Corroded F-16 Electical Connector
While maintained aircraft can fly for decades, corrosion is an ever constant threat to the integrity of the aircraft. It is true that older airplanes need more attention and maintenance, an aircraft’s age has not been considered a safety factor. A pilot’s training, qualifications, and fatigue are by far larger safety issues than the age of the aircraft, as long as the aircraft is undergoing frequent and prescribed maintenance checks. Checking for and preventing corrosion has be a very serious part of any maintenance program as well as that of the pilot doing his pre-flight inspections.
The thinning of an aircraft’s internal structure integrity and its outside aluminum skin by corrosion is one of the factors that reduce the life of aircraft. Corrosion is not only a very expensive problem it is also a very dangerous one.
The types of corrosion that are seen in aircraft structures are:
1. Uniform corrosion
2. Pitting corrosion
3. Exfoliation corrosion
4. Intergranular corrosion.
5. Microbial corrosion
Above: Aloha Flight 243 - On April 28, 1988, an Aloha Airlines 737's fuselage blew open at 24,000 feet, killing a flight attendant and injuring eight people.
A crack on an Aloha Airlines 737 was noticed by one of the passengers as he boarded, but didn’t say anything about it. Later on in that flight a top section of the aircraft’s fuselage came off in flight causing the death of a flight attendant. The causes of crack growth in Aloha Flight 243 was the number of flight cycles, take-offs and landings, and accelerated by the exposure of the aircraft to the corrosive effects of salt water vapor.
In civilian or military aviation, corrosion is a never ending problem that directly impacts the safety and integrity of not only the aircraft but the safety of the crew and passengers as well. If not addressed it can also be a very expensive problem.
The return on investment in a corrosion prevention and control program is very cost effective in aviation.
Above: Corroded PCB Circuit Board
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Above: Corroded USB Connector
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Electrical and Electronic Corrosion
If your £1,500 computer fails because of a circuit board being corroded that is a relatively inexpensive repair. If your car won’t start because the battery terminals are corroded that is an annoyance and may make you late for an appointment but it is also a fairly inexpensive repair. If an electrical cable connector that connects the on board electronics to the main power supply were to fail because of corrosion on the Eurostar while it was in the Chunnel that would be more than just an inexpensive annoyance. A ship loses its communication on its way in to the harbor because of corrosion at the antenna base can be very problematic if they don’t have a stand by radio antenna.
Corrosion of electrical components is very prevalent problem and one that can be prevented. Preventing moisture from coming in to contact with the electrical components is the key. An ultra-thin film of
SuperCORR A will not only prevent moisture from coming in to contact but will displace moisture that is there already.
Super CORR A is hydrophobic, that is it repels water and forms a “self-healing” ultra-thin film barrier that prevents moisture from coming into contact with the coated electronic components.