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Corrosion in the News: September 16, 2019 Roundup

By Corrosionpedia Staff
Published: September 16, 2019
Key Takeaways

This week's stories take a look at several instances of vehicle corrosion, another involving an infamous marine disaster, and developments involving oxidation and electricity.

Welcome to the Corrosionpedia News Roundup. For the mid-September 2019 edition, we highlight several instances of vehicle corrosion: one by a major automobile manufacturer, and another involving an infamous marine disaster. Another marine corrosion concern regards a floating museum in Minnesota. Developments involving oxidation and electricity are also covered.


Major Ford Recall Caused By Corrosion

Ford Motor Company recently sent out a major recall notice that affects over 500,000 vehicles, including one part having to do with corrosion. Almost 100,000 vehicles involved in the recall have corrosion issues, the 2015-16 Ford Edge, the 2013-16 Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ, and the 2015 Lincoln MKX built at certain plants are suspected to have the corrosion problem.

The concern with these vehicles is that an ineffective coating may not safeguard the bolts on the steering gear motor from the effects of corrosion. If corrosion occurs on these bolts and causes them to fail, then power steering could be lost. This could present crash risks as drivers may be unable to maintain control of their vehicles without power steering. Currently, Ford is only concerned with the above-mentioned vehicle models in areas where high levels of corrosion are typical, such as locations where high amounts of road salt are used to melt snow. Please see Ford’s website for more information on the recall.


Titanic Wreck Corrosion Continues

The Titanic, an iconic ship that collided with an iceberg and sank on its maiden voyage, was recently inspected for the first time in over a decade. While the ship is still present, the amount of corrosion it has undergone is alarming. The ship is largely composed of steel, and the saltwater ocean is one obvious reason for the extreme amounts of corrosion. Another less-expected cause of corrosion is bacteria, which increase the oxidation rate of the wreckage. Based on the latest findings, it is estimated that the remains of the Titanic will no longer be observable sometime around the year 2030. Several of the previous attractions of the wreckage, such as the captain’s bathtub, are no longer viewable.

Heavy Corrosion Destroying Chernobyl Sarcophagus

The sarcophagus containing the remnants of the Chernobyl disaster has been slowly deteriorating over the last few decades. The sarcophagus was made to prevent the spread of radiation from the nuclear disaster, which it still does to this day. However, the sarcophagus was built in an effort to stop the radiation emissions as quickly as possible, which resulted in several key details being missed during its construction.

Several design and build flaws have allowed water and corrosive substances to degrade the sarcophagus. As a result of the corrosion, the giant steel and concrete structure is at risk of collapsing. Therefore, the entity in charge of the sarcophagus will be disassembling it. It is expected that no radiation will be allowed to escape the disaster site during this time because a more modern containment shell has been built around the original sarcophagus.

Oxidation Attacks Famous Floating Museum

An alarming discovery was made on the SS William A. Irvin when it was sent to drydock this past August. The ship, which currently serves as a museum in Duluth, Minnesota to inform visitors of its storied history as a coal and iron ore transport for the United States Steel Corporation during the 20th century, was found to have several corroded areas. Most concerning and unexpected were the rivets on the underside of its hull. Because the ship is rusting in the Duluth-Superior Harbor, it typically has higher corrosion rates in part because of the large amounts of copper from ores in contact with the water. The ship will undergo a major refurbishment, including surface blasting and the application of a new epoxy coating, to protect the rest of its hull. As far as the rivets go, replacement may not happen this time around, but they will continue to be monitored for additional corrosion.


Mitsubushi Develops New Circuit Board Corrosion Sensor

The Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, based in Tokyo, Japan, has developed a new way to detect corrosion on printed circuit boards. The company said in a statement that it has managed to build corrosion sensors that are small enough to be mounted directly on the printed circuit boards. The corrosion detection by the sensors is based on a system of several different variations of the sensor that individually work to detect corrosion at different levels. The state of corrosion on the circuit board can be readily determined by signals from each of the individual sensors. Monitoring circuit board corrosion is incredibly useful because oxidized metal can produce very high levels of resistance that cause the circuit board to fail. Mitsubishi is expecting to use this technology across its industrial electronics products.

Metal Oxides Used to Produce Electricity

Metal oxidation, usually considered a serious threat to structural integrity, has been used to make electricity by a team of researchers at Northwestern University and Caltech. The generation of electricity occurs when water is allowed to run over the surface of very thin layers of metal oxides. During the process, freshwater and saltwater are pulsed across the surface of the metal oxides. At the nanolayer level, the difference in salinity causes electrons to flow. Certain metal oxides have been found to work better than others. This innovation could lead to sustainable electricity generation using relatively affordable materials. A patent has been filed for the discovery.


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