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Steel Corrosion

By Chemical Engineering |

Corrosion of steel is a key concern in many industrial settings, both from an asset-management perspective and from a safety perspective. The following briefly describes corrosion mechanisms for various classes of steel, and provides information on the corrosion resistance of these ubiquitous iron-based alloys. Carbon steels contain only iron and carbon, with carbon making up between 0.002 and 2.1 wt.%. Low-alloy steels contain a variety of other elements added to achieve desired properties of corrosion resistance, strength, formability and other characteristics. Steel is classified as stainless steel if its chromium content is at least 10.5 wt.%, and its carbon content is less than 1.20 wt.%, as defined in ASTM Standard A240 (ASTM International; West Conshohocken, Pa.; www.astm.org). Iron oxidation Steel corrosion is an electrochemical process requiring the simultaneous presence of water and oxygen. The anode reaction involves the formation of Fe2+ ions and the release of electrons, while the cathode reaction involves a reduction of dissolved oxygen, with water as an electrolyte. Fe0 —> Fe2+ + 2e– O2 + 2H2O + 4e– —> 4OH– Iron ions react with the hydroxide to form iron hyroxides [such as Fe(OH)2], which react further…
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