pipe to corrode. The water collects on the inside of the pipe because the pipe is usually cooler than the oil. In a storage tank, the water will settle to the bottom of the tank because water is heavier than oil, and will cause the bottom to corrode. Hydrogen sulfide and sulphur dioxide may also be introduced into the pipeline to add to the corrosiveness of the water that collects on the metal. The only way to prevent corrosion from this source is either to coat the inside of the pipeline and tanks with a protective film or to remove the water from them.
Bacterial organisms may also cause microbiological corrosion. Colonies of bacteria that live close to the metal surface in stationary slimy deposits produce corrosive substances such as carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulphide, ammonia, and organic and inorganic acids. These corroding substances are found only in the locality of the colony and may be undetected in the surrounding water or soil. Bacteria that cause corrosion in this way need to produce only small amounts of corrosive products for localized attack. However, colonies of bacteria that do not produce corrosive products may act as a protective film around the metal, causing unequal distribution of electrical potential, which gives rise to local anodes and cathodes. In this way, the production of local cells will cause increased corrosive action.
Biological corrosion is extremely difficult to control, since the organisms are very resistant to normal methods of sterilization. Probably the most logical method to reduce microbiological corrosion is by the use of some barrier coating between the environment and the metal.
An electrolyte is any substance that conducts electricity. It conducts electricity because it contains ions that carry electrical charges, either negative or positive, that move in electrical fields. Some of the more important electrolytes are discussed in the following paragraphs.
ATMOSPHERIC CONDITIONS. - Corrosion due to atmospheric conditions is caused mainly by the water in the atmosphere. Pure water is a nonelectrolyte, but because water is a universal solvent, it is not found to be pure very often. Rain water is often considered to be pure, but this is not true. As rain falls to the ground, it dissolves gases out of the atmosphere and becomes impure. For this reason, any water vapor in the atmosphere is also impure. If a piece of metal is exposed to atmospheric air, and the metal is cooler than the air, water vapor from the air will collect on the surface of the metal. The layer of water on the metal maybe so thin that it cannot be seen; but there is enough of it, if impure, to start corrosion. In this case, when the gases dissolve into the water, the water becomes an electrolyte. When metal is exposed to an electrolyte, galvanic cells are produced on the surface of the metal, since there are impurities in it. Each one of these cells starts to act on the metal, causing corrosion by electrochemical action.
WATER AND WATER SOLUTIONS. - If metal is exposed to water or water solutions, corrosion is likely to occur if the water or metal is impure. If the water or metal is pure, corrosion probably will not occur; however, these conditions seldom exist in nature. Impurities in the water and metal produce galvanic cells that cause corrosion.
CHEMICAL AGENTS. - Chemical agents such as acids and salts also cause corrosion. When these agents are present in the environment, direct chemical attack on metal is the result. For example, if a piece of zinc is exposed to hydrochloric acid, a definite chemical reaction takes place. The zinc and hydrochloric acid combine, producing zinc chloride and hydrogen. This action continues until the zinc is completely dissolved or the acid is too weak to act on the zinc. Corrosion causes the zinc to dissolve.
Another example that may be used to illustrate corrosion through the use of a chemical agent is to place aluminum in a lye solution. The lye will pit (corrode) the aluminum as long as chemical action continues between the aluminum and lye.
Whenever installing various types of plumbing equipment in areas where corrosion is active, you should select equipment made of materials least affected by corrosion. To prevent electrochemical action in plumbing equipment, the equipment should be made of materials that are not affected by electrolysis. Plastic materials such as polyethylene polyester and polyvinyl chloride are not acted upon by corrosion. Glass is another material that is not acted on by corrosion. (ThisContinue Reading