What Does Electrical Conductivity Mean?
Electrical conductivity is the reciprocal process of electrical resistivity. It measures the ability of a certain material to conduct electrical currents. It can be represented by the letters sigma (s) or kappa (k). In standard international units, it is represented by siemens per meter (S/m).
Higher levels of conductivity make an environment more corrosive. Thus, accurate measurement of electrical conductivity is essential to mitigating corrosion.
Electrical conductivity is also known as specific conductance.
Corrosionpedia Explains Electrical Conductivity
Electrical conductivity is often associated with the corrosiveness of various environments, such as in soil. One example is the corrosion of carbon steel in soil. Primarily, the types or reaction of soil corrosion depends on the soil composition as well as other factors in the environment. These factors may include the existence of oxygen and moisture. The variability involved in these factors accounts for the difference in corrosion attack.
In an iron vessel buried in soil, the iron could perforate after several months. As a rule, soils with high electrical conductivity as well as moisture and acid content are the most corrosive. Therefore, it is not a common practice to bury exposed steel, especially when it is to be used for electrical applications. Consequently, steel corrosion in soil is not a major concern in most industries.
However, electrical conductivity can be present in many industries. For instance, in a plumbing system, galvanized water pipes can come into contact with brass or copper, producing an electrolytic reaction that may speed up the water’s electrical conductivity. This eventually leads to the deterioration of pipes, which also affects the corrosiveness of water.
Thus, electrical conductivity should be accurately measured to avoid the harmful effects of corrosion to industries and the environment.