Degradation of Materials (Corrosion)
Despite the numerous useful properties of iron and steel and the cultural changes that came along with the introduction of iron, it has to be kept in mind that iron and steel are plagued by a grave detriment. This detriment is rusting, also often referred to by the generic and more accommodating names corrosion or environmental interaction. Specifically, rusting destroys goods valued at approximately 5% of the gross national product in industrialized countries. Billions of dollars have to be spent annually to replace or repair corrosion-related damages or to prevent corrosion. (About $250 billion per year in the United States alone.) Moreover, corrosion can weaken the strength of structures made from iron and changes their appearance. It is of little consolation that many other materials such as glass and polymers likewise undergo some form of deterioration. Rusting transforms iron or ferrous alloys into ceramic compounds (e.g., iron into iron oxide or hydrated iron oxide), as we shall elucidate momentarily. Actually, corrosion is a slow form of burning. In short, rusting is a prime destructive mechanism that affects a society which places its trust and investments into iron and steel.
KeywordsBritish Museum Cathodic Protection Galvanize Steel Intergranular Corrosion Electrochemical Corrosion
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Suggestions for Further Study
- D.E. Clark and B.K. Zoitos, Editors, Corrosion of Glass, Ceramics, and Ceramic Superconductors, Noyes Publications, Park Ridge, NJ (1992).Google Scholar
- M.G. Fontana and N.D. Greene, Corrosion Engineering, 2nd Edition, McGraw-Hill, New York (1978).Google Scholar
- E.D. Verink, Jr., Corrosion Testing Made Easy: The Basics, NACE International, Houston, TX (1994).Google Scholar