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Atmospheric Corrosion

Last updated: May 29, 2020

What Does Atmospheric Corrosion Mean?

Atmospheric corrosion is the deterioration and destruction of a material and its vital properties due to electrochemical as well as the other reactions of its surface with the constituents of the atmosphere surrounding the material.


Corrosionpedia Explains Atmospheric Corrosion

Different atmospheric substances cause corrosion and erosion of metals and nonmetals. Earth's natural environment of oxygen and condensed water vapor is itself sufficient to cause gradual corrosion of iron and steel surfaces, producing iron oxide, more commonly known as rust. Corrosion alters the micro structure and drastically reduces the mechanical strength and useful life of the metals.

The vital factor in atmospheric corrosion is the presence of moisture due to fog, dew, precipitation and relative humidity. In a completely dry atmosphere, oxygen and carbon dioxide do not cause corrosion. Salts of sulfur and chlorine can aggravate corrosion by forming electrolytes in industrial atmospheres. Ambient temperature and air pressure also affect corrosion. At higher temperatures some electrolytes become highly reactive. The critical humidity which enables corrosion is a factor which is specific to each metal.

The study of atmospheric corrosion is essential because this type of damage is the most prevalent among the different types of corrosion damage. This type of deterioration is widespread, as it affects outdoor as well as indoor installations such as utilities, industries, vehicles and residential structures. This study helps determine the root causes of chemical and electrochemical reactions of various metals and nonmetals with atmospheric substances such as oxygen, moisture, sulfur dioxide and salt crystals.


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