Steel Corrosion

Last updated: July 13, 2017

What Does Steel Corrosion Mean?

Steel corrosion is the irreversible deterioration and destruction of the steel material and its vital properties due to the electrochemical or chemical reaction of its surface to environmental factors such as acids, moisture and oxygen.

Steel corrosion involves an electrolysis in which the metallic surface releases electrons into an electrolyte, such as a layer of moisture in the presence of oxygen. This electrochemical reaction occurs due to the tendency for metals to return to their natural state. Iron in the steel in the environment of moist air will tend to go back to its original state of iron oxide as rust. Steel can be corroded by the chemical reaction of certain chemicals like sulfuric acid.


Corrosionpedia Explains Steel Corrosion

The rate of steel corrosion is affected by factors such as ambient air temperature, presence of chemical fumes and vapors, as well as humidity. In the case of buried steel structures and pipes, the composition of the soil and its moisture influence the extent of corrosion and its impact. The corrosive reaction changes the microstructure of the steel on its surface, thus making it brittle and flaky. Slowly it loses its mechanical strength and elasticity. Thus, the useful life of steel structures and other applications are severely curtailed. Hence, there is a need to apply suitable protective coating, depending upon the type of application and environment. Some alloys of steel have certain inbuilt corrosion resistance.

Steel corrosion can cause severe failures and expensive damage to critical applications of steel, such as structures and industrial equipment. The monitoring of steel corrosion can be helpful in predicting the failure of steel structures and critical equipment, controlling the electrochemical reaction and taking timely action to prevent damage.


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