Microbiological corrosive action in the soil is due to physical and chemical changes in the soil caused by the presence of these organisms. Some bacteria are responsible for the production of active galvanic cells. These bacteria are mostly found in highly waterlogged, sulfate-bearing, blue clay soils. The bacteria concentration, as well as the corrosion rate, varies considerably with the different seasons of the year. Cast-iron and steel pipes are corroded mostly by sulfide production.
Compositional corrosion alters the composition of metals. Some of the specific types of compositional corrosion are discussed in the following paragraphs.
Dezincification. This is a selective type of corrosion that occurs in copper and zinc alloys. When alloys of this kind (brasses) are exposed to this type of corrosion, the zinc dissolves out of the alloy and leaves only the copper.
Graphitization. Another type of compositional corrosion is graphitization or graphitic softening. It is a peculiar form of disintegration that attacks grey cast iron. Cast iron is an alloy made of iron and carbon, the carbon being in the form of graphite. When cast iron with such a composition is subjected to graphitization, the iron dissolves out and leaves only the graphite. This action leaves cast-iron pipes and other similar equipment weakened mechanically. However, after graphitization corrosion occurs, the graphite pipe may last for many years if it is not subjected to any mechanical forces or sudden pressures. The action of this type of corrosion is similar to dezincification.
Hydrogen embrittlement. This is a term applied to metal that becomes brittle because of the action of some form of corrosion that causes the formation of hydrogen on its surface. When hydrogen forms on the surface of steel, the action of the hydrogen may form blisters or actually embrittle the metal. Hydrogen liberated near the surface of steel in an electrolyte will diffuse into the metal quite rapidly. The hydrogen picked up by the steel is in an atomic state and causes the steel to become brittle.
Corrosion affects metals that are under stress. The action caused by stresses on a pipeline or structure is due to the shifting of the various rocks and soils of the earth. Usually a complete pipeline is not under stress; certain sections are under stress while adjacent sections are not. Because of these pressures and strains, localized electrochemical action takes place. The section of the pipe or structure under stress becomes anodic, whereas the unstressed sections become cathodic. In this way, the pipe under stress begins to corrode and weaken because of the action of corrosion.
Nonelectrolytes are materials that will not conduct electricity. These materials include nonelectrolytic vapors, liquids, and bacterial organisms. Since they do not conduct electricity, they do not, in themselves, cause corrosion.
NONELECTROLYTE GASES AND VAPORS. - Nonelectrolytic gases and vapors usually must be subjected to high temperatures before corrosive action can take place. Hydrogen sulfide causes scaling of iron at temperatures from 1400 to 2000F. High-chromium alloy steels resist this type of corrosion best. The only remedy for this type of corrosion is to keep the gases away from the metal or use a metal that can resist corrosion.
High-carbon steels are attacked by hydrogen at temperatures above 750F. This hydrogen combines with the carbon grains in the steel and causes the metal to weaken at the grain boundaries between the iron and carbon. Oxygen will combine directly with most metals at high temperatures. The temperature at which oxygen will combine with the metals depends mostly upon the type of metal. In the process of cutting iron with an oxyacetylene torch, the oxygen combines with the iron.
NONELECTROLYTIC FLUIDS. - Non-electrolytic fluids include such liquids as pure water, lubricating oils, fuel oils, and alcohols. These fluids do not cause corrosion, but corrosion does occur in storage tanks that contain these liquids and in pipelines that carry them. The corrosion is not caused by the nonelectrolyte liquids, but by the foreign products in them. For example, if impure water is introduced into an oil pipeline, the water will cause the inside of theContinue Reading