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Corrosion: A Solution To A Costly Problem

Most people associate corrosion with rust, which only happens in things made of ferrous metals such as steel girders, ships, iron pipes, steel reinforcement rods, and steel tanks and is the reason metals deteriorate and fail.

From governments to private enterprise

From governments to private enterprise, the questions to consider are:
Are corrosion prevention programs worth the cost?
What is the cost or Return On Investment of a corrosion prevention program?

One way answer that would be to ask the question:
What is the cost in terms of lost profits and productivity if the equipment fails and has to be taken out of service for repair or has to be replaced entirely because it corroded?

In 1971, T.P. Hoar stated in his report to the Committee on Corrosion and Protection in England, that “…corrosion control or prevention of even small components could result in major cost savings because of its overall effect on the entire system rather than just the components.” It is much simpler and a lot less costly to prevent corrosion than to repair or replace the damaged equipment or components that failed because of corrosion.

Preventing Disaster

If an electrical component fails that affects your car that is just an annoyance and can be repaired fairly inexpensively and if you’re driving the car rolls to a stop and you get out. However, if an electrical system failed because of a corroded electrical contact in an electrical circuit which caused another electrical failure in the master fuel control system on an airliner at 30,000 feet with 250 people on board that could prove to be catastrophic. While the electrical contacts in both cases failed due to corrosion both failures could very well have been prevented by using Super CORR A in a Corrosion Prevention Program incorporated into all routine maintenance programs.

Research Findings

The U.S. Federal Highway Administration funded a two year, 1999 – 2001, study “Corrosion Costs and Preventive Strategies in the United States” that was released in 2002. The results of study by NACE International and CC Technologies Laboratories “that the total annual estimated direct cost of all corrosion to be a staggering $276 billion – approximately 3.1% of the U.S. gross domestic product.”

The indirect cost of corrosion in lost time, and thus lost productivity because of outages, delays, failures, and litigation, was conservatively estimated to be the same as the direct costs giving a total cost of corrosion of $552 billion or about 6% of the U.S. GNP.

The NACE study also stated that corrosion is so prevalent and takes so many forms that its occurrence and associated costs will never be completely eliminated; however, the study estimated that “25 to 30% of annual corrosion costs could be saved if optimum corrosion management practices were employed.” That is a savings of between $69 and $83 billion dollars by using optimum corrosion management practices. Corrosion cost studies have been done in a number of countries including the United Kingdom, Sweden, Germany, and Finland where the studies pointed out that the annual cost of corrosion ranged as high as 5% of GNP.

A 2001 study in the U.S. by the Electric Power Research Institute estimated the cost of corrosion in the electrical utilities business was approximately $6.9 billion, in gas distribution $5 billion, and in drinking water and sewer systems $36 billion per year and that was the direct costs.

The physical and economic effects of corrosion

  • Ferrous and non-ferrous metals corrode on contact with both fresh and salt water as well as water vapor. They will also corrode when they come in contact with chemicals, liquid acids as well as acidic vapors, salts and bases, and bacteria.
  • Corrosion is also found in electronics from circuit breakers and contactors to wire bond connectors and soldered components on a printed circuit board. Electrical connectors and plugs are very prone to corrosion as well as non-ferrous metals and alloys such as copper and aluminum. For purposes here, corrosion can be defined as a chemical or electrochemical reaction between a material, usually a metal, and its environment that produces a deterioration of the material and its properties.
  • Corrosion is an increasingly serious and costly problem that can lead to plant and equipment failures as well as steel bridges, ships, and buildings. These failures range from being an annoyance to being catastrophic. Failures caused by corrosion could and do lead to a direct failure of a component which could affect the entire system and can not only be very expensive in terms of down time to repair or replace plant and equipment, but can also prove to be very costly in loss of productivity but to human life and health as well as to the environment.


Before corrosion can take place four conditions must be satisfied:

  • The presence of a corrodible metal or alloy (anode)
  • The presence of a dissimilar conductive material that has a lesser tendency to corrode (cathode)
  • The presence of an electrolyte, fresh or salt water
  • Electrical contact between the anode and the cathode

The elimination of any of the above conditions will halt the corrosion process!

Important Questions

The questions to be asked by both government and private industry are:

  • Is the investment in corrosion control and prevention worth the cost?
  • Does the return on investment in Corrosion Prevention and Control out weight the money lost in man hours to repair or replace a piece of equipment as well as the money lost through that piece of equipment being out of service?
  • What is the cost to replace a bridge because of corrosion vs. the man hour cost of corrosion control?
  • What is the indirect cost of having to replace a bridge?
  • What is the cost of corrosion prevention to an electrical company and Is it cheaper and less disruptive to have a routine maintenance program spray of SuperCORR A on electrical cannon plugs to prevent corrosion failures and loss of electrical power?
Further information

We can provide you with a Material Safety Data Sheet, independent laboratory reports, product samples or technical assistance. For more information or advice please contact us by telephone on +44 (0) 20 8281 6370 or use our contact form.

CORR-EX corrosion protection products are supplied and supported by EnviroTech Europe Ltd.  Manufactured in the United Kingdom and available on short delivery times through our dedicated team of distributors in Europe and the Middle East.

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