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Corrosion is the deterioration of materials by chemical interaction with their environment. The term corrosion is sometimes also applied to the degradation of plastics, concrete and wood, but generally refers to metals. The most widely used metal is iron (usually as steel) and the following discussion is mainly related to its corrosion.

The consequences of corrosion are many and varied and the effects of these on the safe, reliable and efficient operation of equipment or structures are often more serious than the simple loss of a mass of metal. Failures of various kinds and the need for expensive replacements may occur even though the amount of metal destroyed is quite small. Some of the major harmful effects of corrosion can be summarized as follows:

1. Reduction of metal thickness leading to loss of mechanical strength and
    structural failure or breakdown. When the metal is lost in localized zones
    so as to give a crack like structure, very considerable weakening may
    result from quite a small amount of metal loss.

2. Hazards or injuries to people arising from structural failure or breakdown
    (e.g. bridges, cars, aircraft).

3. Loss of time in availability of profile-making industrial equipment.

4. Reduced value of goods due to deterioration of appearance.

5. Contamination of fluids in vessels and pipes (e.g. beer goes cloudy when
    small quantities of heavy metals are released by corrosion).

6. Perforation of vessels and pipes allowing escape of their contents and
    possible harm to the surroundings. For example a leaky domestic radiator
    can cause expensive damage to carpets and decorations, while corrosive
    sea water may enter the boilers of a power station if the condenser tubes

7. Loss of technically important surface properties of a metallic component.
    These could include frictional and bearing properties, ease of fluid flow
    over a pipe surface, electrical conductivity of contacts, surface reflectivity
    or heat transfer across a surface.                                                                

8. Mechanical damage to valves, pumps, etc, or blockage of pipes by solid
    corrosion products.

9. Added complexity and expense of equipment which needs to be designed
    to withstand a certain amount of corrosion, and to allow corroded
    components to be conveniently replaced.

NACE International : A recently released two-year breakthrough study estimates the annual direct cost of corrosion in the United States to be $276 billions.    ..... Details



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