Materials.Business Weekly ⚙️

October 6, 2020

Quote of the week: “If I have a thousand ideas a year, and only one turns out to be good, I’m satisfied”. Alfred Nobel (1833-1896).

From The Editor's Corner


The devil

It is very well known that corrosion is explained by thermodynamics. The phenomenon is a consequence of a metastable situation generated by anthropogenic intervention on nature, transforming minerals (oxides, carbonates, sulfates, and so on) from their stable conditions in nature, through endothermic chemical reactions, to metallic elements and compounds (iron, copper, aluminum, steel, bronze, etc.). The resulting materials are unstable because such processes mean an increase in the entropy of the system. According to thermodynamics, these materials are prone to a spontaneous conversion to the original state. Metals and alloys are going back to their original conditions: oxides, carbonates, sulfates, and so on. “For dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”

The consequences of this phenomenon justify the efforts by corrosionists and professionals in charge of understanding the phenomena. But mainly, they try to prevent and control it, looking for protection and long-lasting life of parts, equipment, plants, and structures. The cost of such risks and problems is huge. Many times, health problems, security ones, operation difficulties, aesthetic damages, enormous economic costs, and a thundering environmental impact are consequences of corrosion problems.

In our pockets

Corrosion problems are individual. Everyone is affected because corrosion attacks the car, the toys, the gadgets, the lamp socket, the faucet, the plumbing facilities, and so on. Probably, it means hundreds of dollars a year. However, a more precise and worrying situation is concerning the cost of corrosion problems to the economy in general. According to a study by NACE International, the global cost of corrosion in 2013 was estimated at 2.500.000.000 US dollars, which equals 3.4% of the global GDP. That means 0.35 US dollars per capita. Many people do not have that amount in their wallets right now, and they cannot pay for it. At the country level, the cost is in the same order: An estimation of 2.7 percent of GDP as corrosion cost in the USA, in 2019, was 578.548 million US dollars.

In our ecosystem

The cost of corrosion on the environment is a dreadful issue today when humankind is in front of critical environmental risk. According to the World Steel Association, global crude steel production reached 1,869.9 million tons in 2019 (189 Mt in 1950). On the other side, and considering recent technological improvements into the steelmaking process, estimations on the pollutants generated along 2019 were about 1.371 Mt of gasses and solid residues, and 729 - 916 M m3 of wastewater. Furthermore, the iron ore required was about 2.500 Mt.

Other estimations say that the main consumer of steel worldwide is corrosion. This is because approximately ten percent of the yearly produced steel is meant to replace steel in use that has been corroded. We are talking of an amount of 187 Mt of steel produced, and 250 Mt iron ore consumed as raw material, due to the need for parts and equipment substitution. However, how many tons of rust were produced? And where are they? An important amount dissolved and got away from the corroded surfaces. The rest stayed on the surface, sometimes contributing to the acceleration of the attack, sometimes hindering it. Corrosion products are the visible presence of the beast, they are “the culprit.”

The mask

Corrosion products disturb the metallic surface. Sometimes, they cover the surface entirely, and sometimes only in part, even microscopically. Often, they are undesirable, hated, and treated as pollutants, scrap, trash, tarnish, allergens, and even poisons.

According to the thermodynamic reasons of the phenomena, these corrosion products are the result of the return to the stable forms of the metallic elements: Oxides, hydroxides, oxyhydroxides, carbonates, sulfates, hydroxysulfate, chlorides, and so on. Bearing in mind the fourth main engineering materials, compounds (“minerals”) or corrosion product constituents, commonly found, include hematite (α-Fe2O3), lepidocrocite (γ-FeOOH), magnetite (Fe3O4), goethite (α-FeOOH), maghemite (γ-Fe2O3), akagenite (β-FeOOH), siderite (FeCO3), feroxyhyte (δ-FeOOH), melanterite (FeSO4.7H2O), and lawrencite (FeCl2), in the case of iron and steel corrosion. Cuprite (Cu2O), tenorite (CuO), Cu(OH)2, CuCl, tolbaquite (CuCl2), CuSO4, covellite (CuS), Cu2CO3, azurite (Cu3(CO3)2(OH)2), as constituents of the corrosion products formed on copper and copper alloys. Zincite (ZnO), hidrozincite (Zn5(CO3)2.4H2O), and simonkoleite (Zn5(OH)8Cl2.H2O), as a consequence of the dissolution of zinc and its alloys. The allotropic forms of alumina (α/γ -Al2O3) and bayerite (α-Al(OH)3) as the more common constituents of the corrosion products on aluminum and its alloys.

Besides composition, characteristics of the corrosion products are widely variable, and they depend on many factors. Mechanical, physical, and chemical properties influence the corrosion process. These characteristics include toughness, residual stresses, electrical resistance, ionic conductivity, color, hardness, composition, stratification, adherence, thickness, porosity, permeability, homogeneity, grain size, crystallographic structure, crystallinity, among others. They will be conditioned by the three actors of the corrosion process: the material, the corrosive, and the conditions of interaction between both of them. As a result, corrosion products could be dissolved, loosened and released, or held on the surface, contributing to the advance of the deterioration process or limiting it. Dissolved and released products leave the surface prone to further attack. The products that remain take part in the corrosion cell, activating or limiting it, like a barrier. In other words, there are protective and non-protective corrosion products.

The beauty

From another perspective, there are expected and “fruitful” corrosion products. For instance, under aesthetical considerations, changes emerging from corrosion might be beautiful. Examples are diverse: sculptures, buildings, walls, clads, roofs, knobs, and many other architectonic and structural gadgets.


The aggressiveness of some corrosion products against living beings is used as an antimicrobial effect. The leaching of ions from structures, sculptures, and so is a risk to the ecosystem. Leaching of Pb, Cu, and Ag from drinking water pipes is a relevant matter of concern. However, in the case of protecting ships from the crust, leaching of copper ions has been used for many years. In the same way, during the last two decades, silver nanoparticles have been commonly used on hospital clothes, refrigerators, and other applications where microbiological risks are important. Always, taking advantage of the Ag leaching. Around 1850–1870, physician Victor Burq, in Paris, documented the inhibitor effect of copper on the cholera pandemic. Right now, with the SARS-CoV2 pandemic, issues like the use of copper alloy surfaces in several applications, indoor and outdoor, in communal areas in general, would be a valuable solution to the risk of contagious by getting in touch with contaminated surfaces (doorknobs, handles, bars, and many others). Reasons for this antiviral effect are concerning the effect of the Cu-ion on genetic material inside the virus.

In other words, many times, corrosion products are salvation against “devils.” Thus, as in the case of the anti-fouling paints, there are several applications of controlled compositions of “corrosion products” as pigments of paints. Oxides, chromates, phosphates, and so have been used intensively. In some ways, such paints are artificial corrosion products, with properties such as adhesion and cohesion enhanced.

Rust handling

Close to paints, there are other industrial products, the rust converters. Again, some of the characteristics of the corrosion products are modified, looking to solving a practical problem. Here, acids as tannic and phosphoric convert the original corrosion products, resulting in more stable or protective compounds, or a more suitable surface to be painted. Thus constraining their participation in further corrosion processes and allowing the application of paint schemes.


Another example of rust handling with positive results is the case of weathering steel. Here, a HSLA steel, with small amounts of Cu, Cr, and Mn as alloying elements develops a layer of rust, protective to further corrosion in industrial and urban atmospheres. The main reason is associated with the development of rust rich in goethite, due to the effect of the above-mentioned alloying elements on rust formation. The rust doped with such elements has much better properties than the conventional one. Hence, it is possible to think about the improvement of the corrosion products' behavior by doping and modifying its composition intentionally. In the same way, the acceleration of the rust layer formation is an option, and some of the aesthetic doubts about weathering steel are attended.

Mimicking weathering steel, doping of pigments, and addition of alloying elements, looking for more protective coatings or corrosion product layers, are interesting development lines. Iron oxide pigments coped with Cu or Cr are flattering. Co-pigmented Zn-rich primers are commercially available.

Passive resistance

Some of the most unstable elements, the more anodic, as metals or metal alloys containing them, react with oxygen easily, and the resulting corrosion products result in a good barrier against a further corrosive attack. In particular, alloys containing aluminum, iron, chromium, titanium, magnesium show this effect notoriously. Such a phenomenon is called passivation, and is the quick formation, after exposure to the corrosive, of a very thin film of metallic oxide (just a few nanometers in thickness), but hard, adherent, dense, impervious, inert, and invisible. Thus, the substrate is self-protected by isolation from the aggressive environment around. This option is one of the great reasons for the importance of metals like Al in engineering, but mainly stainless steel, the basic material of the oil and gas industry development, more than one hundred years ago. The reinforcement of such a film is also possible. Consequently, anodizing is a common process intended to improve the behavior by increasing thickness, hardness, and other properties of the passivating film. Also, reinforcement treatments like chromate conversion are applied, looking for Cr oxides, instead of original ones. Thus, it is provided long-term protection under severe conditions, e.g., in chloride-containing environments.

Even more beauty

Considering the whole of the above-described panorama, it is easy to understand that currently, in front of the challenges imposed by the XXI century, the development of new materials is looking for much better corrosion products, more protective, more useful, and more beautiful.

Nowadays, a new revolution in materials development is happening. A confluence of new paradigms as nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, analytics, and additive manufacturing, has broken the traditional concepts. Materials as the high-entropy alloys are emerging. One of the strongest research lines in this field is on a “new wave of stainless steels.” A great advantage of these new alloys is the possibility of designing desirable corrosion products. One more reason to be confident in corrosion science and engineering, and to say, “corrosion is beauty.” Remember: Protection of materials and equipment is good business!

Prof. Carlos Arroyave, Ph.D. Editor.

Materials Biz News

Innovation pays

R&D World magazine announced the winners for the 2020 R&D 100 Awards. At least two of the prizes have been given to innovative products that could be relevant for anti-corrosive measurements and asset protection. They are the Laser Coating Removal Robot -Link- in the Mechanical/Materials category, and, in the Analytical/Test category, the ElectroCorrosion Toolkit™, developed to measure material corrosion performance under actual service conditions ( -Read More-

Taking care of people and boilers

CEACA - Combustion, Energy & Environment, a Company serving in matters of consulting, technical service, and training throughout Latin America, in a partnership with the academy, is promoting the “Latin American Boiler Safety Network. Invited professionals include both owners and providers of equipment and services. Currently, the members of the Network are invited to use, free of charge, special software useful for the assessment of the security level in industrial plants. -Read More-

Advice for better buys

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (USA), has published a guide authored by Celia Paulsen, a researcher on cyber supply chain risk management, small business cybersecurity, and cybersecurity for additive manufacturing. The purpose of the document is to support decisions about industrial equipment purchases. Answers to eight easy questions, some of them related to the integrity of the materials, parts, and equipment could be of good help at the moment of acquisition of any machine in your company. -Read More-

Biofuels are increasingly relevant into the frame of a low carbon way of life

Toyo Engineering Corporation will construct a 75.000 kW wood biomass fuel facility for Ichihara Yawatafuto Biomass Power Godo Kaisha, in Ichihara-shi, Chiba (Japan). The contract includes engineering, procurement, construction, and commissioning services, with completion scheduled for September 2023. -Read More-

Welcome valuable knowledge!

Professor Frank Cheng from the University of Calgary ([email protected]) is announcing the launching, next March, of a new journal devoted to subjects closely related to the interest of our readers. It is the Journal of Pipeline Science and Engineering – JPSE (ISSN: 2667-1433), a quarterly, open-access periodical, free-of-charge for authors, too.


Senior Chemical Systems Technical Specialist - Columbus, IN, USA

Cummins is seeking for the right professional to fill a vacancy at the company Research and Technology Centre, in Columbus, IN (USA). Leading responsibilities to be assumed include innovation development of products, processes, and services. Required education includes a Ph.D. title or a master's degree or B.S. plus 3-4 years of experience in chemistry, materials science and engineering, or physical sciences.

Senior Instrument Design Engineer - Houston, TX, USA

COSASCO is looking for an electrical engineer or higher, with at least five years of experience in the design of electrical, electronic, or process control equipment for the oil and gas industry, preferably in instrumentation for corrosion measurement. The main functions will be associated with leadership in R&D. Performance expectations will be related to the new products as a consequence of the correct management of the entire sequence of the innovation process.

Internship & Project Opportunities

Optitech Integrity Services, a company based in Indonesia, offers the opportunity of training through internships and project developments to students and graduate engineers interested in issues related to asset integrity management for the oil and gas industry. Further information: [email protected]

Ph.D. scholarships - Delaware, USA

The Water Safety group in the Department of Geography and Space Sciences and the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Delaware (USA) offers two programs Ph.D. scholarships to start in spring/fall 2021. Studies will focus on complex water systems and water security issues from a joint perspective of both human and water systems. Contact person: Dr. Yao Hu [email protected], before December 1, 2020.

Strengthening the Australasian community

The Australasian Corrosion Association - ACA, one of the strongest and active corrosion communities worldwide, is calling for nominations from members to be elected to the board. Nominations are called to fill a casual vacancy for an ACA Board position for three years commencing 24 November 2020. Submission of applications not later than 8th November 2020. -Read More-

Networking & Knowledge Exchange

Safety concerns - Virtual

The American Institute of Chemical Engineers – AIChE, and the Brazilian Petroleum, Gas and Biofuels Institute – IBP, are co-organizing the “Latin American Virtual Conference on Process Safety”, October 28th – 29th 2020. The main subjects to be considered include:

-Leadership, process safety management, and human factors

-Remote process safety management: Critical functions

-Lessons learned, emergency management, and stakeholder outreach

A wide overview of composites - Virtual

A cycle of webinars. The Composites Excellence center of Asia invites to attend a WEB series of six lectures on composite materials, to be developed along the current month, from 16:00 to 17:00 Indian Standard Time:

-Introduction of Composite Materials October 10th

-Application of Composites October 11th

-Tool Design and Manufacture October 17th

-Manufacturing Process October 18th

-Quality Assurance October 24th

-Future Trends October 25th

Going deeper into the new revolution - Virtual

Park Systems, sponsored by Physics Today and the Nanotechnology World Association, is announcing an online edition of the “NanoScientific Symposium on Nano Applications for Today’s Changing World”. The symposium will be held on October 14-15, 2020. Key subjects at this meeting will include new results and information on how nano applications are opening new ways for innovation and problems solution.

Towards a more scientific evaluation engineering - Virtual

TWI and NSIR (National Structural Integrity Research Centre, UK) are inviting to a free-to-attend webinar entitled “Engineering Critical Assessment: From Qualitative to Quantitative”. This event will be held on November 3rd, 2020. 15:00 – 16:00 UK Time. Issues concerning empiric and scientific approaches to risk-assessment on pressure vessels and piping will be done.

Photo by Brandon Molitwenik on Unsplash