15 February 2013
Posted in Corrosion: The Silent Menace
Did you know that the problem of corrosion costs the United States billions of dollars each year?
Corrosion is an often overlooked but highly serious issue in today’s world. It can lead to the breakdown of bridges, pipelines, waterways and much more in the blink of an eye. We pay for the impact of corrosion in more than just dollars—human safety can also be at stake. But how do we define corrosion, and what exactly causes it?
Although it looks bad, surface corrosion is a lesser danger than hidden corrosion.
Corrosion is defined as an irreversible reaction of a material with its environment that causes degradation to the material. Rust is one common example of corrosion, caused when steel interacts with moisture in the air.
In metals, corrosion is produced by actual loss of material. First, the metal comes into contact with electrolytes in its environment, such as moisture or acids. The electrolyte dissolves an ion of material off of the piece of metal, and the ion leaves the metal in its new electrolyte home. Over time, this kind of reaction can lead to serious material loss, weakening the structural integrity of the metal in question!
We can see uniform surface corrosion, such as rust, long before it can harm us. However, highly localized and hidden corrosion prove more dangerous. Airplane wings, major pipelines and even NASA rovers can corrode from the inside out, becoming unstable with no warning.
Learn more about corrosion at the Orlando Science Center’s newest exhibit “Corrosion: The Silent Menace,” opening on March 16! A unified effort by the Orlando Science Center; the University of Akron; the United States Department of Defense, Office of Corrosion Policy and Oversight and other partners, this new exhibit will be bursting with interactive activities and useful information! Be sure to check back, as we’ll be giving you weekly updates with exhibit sneak peeks and interviews with the experts involved!