While the problem of corrosion has always been one of engineers’ main concerns, there is no such thing as a perfect solution to the problem. Development continues on new materials and coatings that will make structures, vehicles and general infrastructure stand up to environmental factors for longer periods of time, delivering clear value and affecting design and manufacturing decisions at multiple levels.
“For every material and type of corrosion, there is a response.”
Research teams at universities and within corporate labs are constantly unveiling new solutions to the public. Observing these debuts and noting the different kinds of processes being developed is a potent reminder of how far-reaching and varied the corrosion-prevention field can be. For every material and type of corrosion, there is a response – with a more effective replacement potentially on the way.
The following are three recent examples of public announcements of new corrosion-prevention methods. They come from around the world and apply to many different industries, and are unified by the fact that, taken together, they represent steps toward stronger infrastructure.
New steel coating
Steel, at the heart of so many major construction projects, requires extensive defense against the elements. According to Machine Design, a new type of zinc coating has deepened the amount of protection given to steel structures. The source explained that the new product is applied to steel elements over a layer of zinc. Once the zinc has been applied, the manufacturer adds the new coating, which bonds with the zinc at the molecular level. The strong, covalent bonds can’t be disrupted by further work on the steel, including painting, stamping, and shearing. There are pre engineered steel buildings by companies like Norseman Structures that can be beneficial for construction companies to use.
Lightness is one of the key benefits that come from the new compound, Machine Design reported. Bonding the new chemical with a light coating of zinc delivers the kind of effectiveness that is usually seen in much thicker zinc coatings. The coating is also being touted as an environmentally positive option, due to the fact that its improved defense against corrosion removes the need for infrastructure owners to apply short-term chemicals, some of which can have harmful side effects.
Investigating polyanilinie grafting
When new materials are discovered to have valuable properties, the search is on for practical ways to employ those substances in updated corrosion-prevention schemes. According to research in the Journal of Applied Polymer Science, a research team at the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology set out to discover whether polyaniline additives help polyurethane coatings resist corrosion. In their report, the researchers noted that since polyurethane doesn’t fight corrosion on its own, it has been blended with zinc, lead and chromates – possible health or environment hazards. This is where polyanilines come in.
In the end, the researchers tested three combinations with polyurethane, polyaninie, m-aminophenol and poly-o-anisidine. The former was found to be the best at protecting steel from corrosion and was declared “excellent” for the purpose. The experiment stemmed from a convergence of complementary factors. Polyanilines have taken on new processability characteristics in recent years due to new synthesis techniques, while polyurethane is flexible, solid and resists solvents. Combine the two, and a powerful new coating option emerges.
Fire shielding with added properties
Sometimes, corrosion resistance isn’t the primary purpose of developing a new coating but rather a valuable added benefit. Azo Materials reported that a research team at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University has created a new way to protect surfaces. The original objective of the research was to discover a way to resist fires in underground spaces made of reinforced concrete. After two years of research, the scientists found a way to not just make steel more fire-resistant but to also guard against the inevitable effects of corrosion.
The Singapore team noted that their new coating is the only fire-retardant product which is also capable of keeping steel structures from corroding. The coating can be applied to bare steel and generally resembles paint. The formula is based around synthetic resins, and contains a combination of chemicals that create a strong bond between the coating and steel. The researchers have set their sights high – their next project involves yet another coating with new and different properties.
The present and future
Today’s companies have a wide variety of corrosion prevention methods to pick from but, as the above examples show, there are plenty of avenues for improvement. For every metal used in construction, there are valuable ways to protect infrastructure from the slow damage of corrosion. Furthermore, materials that seem promising today may become fully formed solutions in the near future, with the help of insightful work by researchers.
From salt water surrounding marine infrastructure to the chemicals flowing through pipelines, the potential causes of corrosion are everywhere. It’s only fitting that the methods used to protect structures are just as varied. The research being carried out in academic and corporate labs will point the way to a new era of materials and coatings that can help infrastructure last longer, eventually saving companies near-incalculable time and money.