Types of Corrosion

Uniform Corrosion

Uniform corrosion, as the name suggests, is an evenly distributed type of corrosion that affects the entire surface of a metal. This type of corrosion occurs when metal is exposed to a corrosive environment, causing it to undergo a chemical reaction with oxygen and moisture. The reaction leads to the formation of oxide layers, commonly known as rust.

Metals in a corrosive environment experience a uniform loss of material, resulting in a reduction of the metal thickness over time. The appearance of uniformly corroded metals is typically characterized by a rough, matting surface, which indicates the continuous process of oxide layer buildup and detachment. One of the primary reasons for the widespread nature of uniform corrosion is the consistent exposure of the entire metal surface to the corrosive elements in the environment.

The rate of uniform corrosion depends on various factors, such as the type of metal, the chemical composition of the corrosive environment, and the availability of oxygen and moisture. Some metals, like aluminum, develop a protective oxide layer that slows down the uniform corrosion process, while others, like iron, are more susceptible to rapid deterioration.

Maintaining proper control measures can help prevent or slow down the uniform corrosion process. For instance, employing protective coatings or inhibitors can create a barrier between the metal and the corrosive environment, reducing the chances of the chemical reaction taking place. Additionally, regular inspections and timely maintenance can help identify the early signs of uniform corrosion and mitigate its potential impact on the structural integrity of the affected materials.

In conclusion, uniform corrosion is a common type of chemical deterioration that affects metals exposed to corrosive environments. By understanding the causes and manifestations of this corrosion type, steps can be taken to prevent or minimize its effects, ensuring the longevity and functionality of the metal structures.

Galvanic Corrosion

Galvanic corrosion is a type of electrochemical reaction that occurs when two different metals, or metal alloys, are in electrical contact through an electrolyte, creating a galvanic couple. In this process, the metal acting as the anode corrodes faster than it would in a non-corrosive environment. The metal acting as the cathode, on the other hand, is protected from corrosion.

Common metals that can experience galvanic corrosion include aluminum, magnesium, zinc, cadmium, copper, lead, and gold. The process of galvanic corrosion is particularly important when considering metals and their alloys in a variety of settings, including industrial applications, construction, maritime environments, and even in everyday use.

The anode and cathode are determined by their position in the galvanic series, a ranking of metals according to their electrochemical potential. Metals at the top of the series, like magnesium and aluminum, are more prone to become anodes, while those at the bottom, such as gold and platinum, are more likely to act as cathodes.

Galvanic corrosion can be exacerbated by certain factors, such as the presence of chloride ions or other highly conductive and corrosive substances in the electrolyte. These chemical agents can cause the passive film, a protective oxide layer formed on some metals, to break down. This breakdown increases a metal’s susceptibility to galvanic corrosion.

In order to prevent or mitigate the effects of galvanic corrosion, it’s essential to understand the relationships between different metals and their positions in the galvanic series. Knowledge of this information enables the selection of appropriate metals to create a galvanic couple that results in minimal corrosion potential.

Some general strategies to reduce the risk of galvanic corrosion include:

  • Using similar metals or alloys in the construction of an application
  • Isolating dissimilar metals with insulating materials or coatings
  • Designing the structure to prevent stagnant electrolyte build-up
  • Applying cathodic protection systems to the metal at risk

In summary, galvanic corrosion is a significant consideration when selecting and combining metals for various applications. Understanding the electrochemical relationships between different metals and the factors influencing corrosion rates is crucial for the successful design and longevity of structures and industrial components.

Crevice Corrosion

Crevice corrosion is a localized form of corrosion that occurs in narrow gaps or crevices between two surfaces, typically in metal-to-metal connections or metal-to-nonmetal interfaces, such as joints or bolts. In these confined spaces, a stagnant microenvironment is created where moisture and a corrosive environment can lead to the accelerated breakdown of the metal surface.

Stainless steels are particularly susceptible to crevice corrosion, as they rely on a thin passive oxide layer to protect against general corrosion. In a creviced environment, the accumulation of moisture and corrosive agents can lead to depletion of the oxide layer. Heat treatment can enhance the corrosion resistance of stainless steel by increasing the stability of the passive oxide layer. However, even with proper heat treatment, it is still essential to consider the risk of crevice corrosion in the design phase of stainless steel components.

The mechanism of crevice corrosion is complex and involves several stages. Initially, oxygen reduction occurs on the surface of the stainless steel, consuming the available oxygen within the crevice. As oxygen is depleted, a potential difference is established between the active area inside the crevice and the passive area outside the crevice.

This differential can lead to the flow of corrosive ions, such as chloride, into the crevice, further promoting the corrosive environment. The presence of chloride ions in combination with a lack of oxygen can break down the protective oxide layer, exposing the bare metal to further attack. The ongoing metal dissolution and ion migration further exacerbate the corrosive process leading to rapid metal loss and potentially catastrophic failures.

Preventing crevice corrosion in stainless steel components can be accomplished through various methods:

  • Proper design: Avoiding narrow crevices and confinement in the overall design of the component can limit the potential for crevice corrosion. This can include using welds instead of bolts, reducing the number of metal-to-metal joints, or utilizing materials with a lower propensity for crevice corrosion.
  • Protective coatings: Applying corrosion-resistant coatings or using barrier materials can limit the exposure of the metal surface to the corrosive environment.
  • Selection of suitable materials: Using materials with greater resistance to crevice corrosion in the specific corrosive environment, for example, higher alloyed stainless steels or nickel-based alloys.

Being aware of crevice corrosion, its mechanisms, and appropriate preventive measures can help designers and engineers create more reliable and long-lasting stainless steel components in various applications that involve exposure to moisture and corrosive environments.

Pitting Corrosion

Pitting corrosion is a localized form of metal degradation that results in the formation of small, deep cavities in the surface of the material. It primarily occurs in metals with a passive film, such as stainless steels. These cavities, or pits, are formed when the protective passive layer on the metal surface is disrupted, leading to accelerated and highly concentrated corrosion activity.

A significant contributor to pitting corrosion is the presence of chloride ions, which can easily penetrate the passive film on stainless steel surfaces. The chloride ions initiate a localized chemical reaction, allowing the metal to interact with the corrosive environment. This interaction leads to the formation of pits, which can eventually grow and undermine the structural integrity of the metal.

Moisture is a critical factor in the development of pitting corrosion. The presence of water or humidity can help dissolve the chloride ions, facilitating their interaction with the metal surface. Moreover, pitting corrosion is often more severe in environments with high salinity or contact with seawater, due to the higher concentration of chloride ions.

Pitting corrosion progresses via a series of stages. Initially, the passive film on the metal surface is penetrated by aggressive chemicals or ions, exposing the underlying material to the corrosive environment. Then, the process of oxidation occurs, wherein the metal loses electrons, and a corrosive chemical reaction takes place, leading to the advancement of corrosive damage.

The susceptibility of stainless steels to pitting corrosion can be reduced by selecting alloys with higher chromium content, which are more resistant to the formation of pits due to their enhanced protective passive layers. Additionally, controlling the environmental factors, such as reducing chloride concentrations and maintaining low moisture levels, can help mitigate the risk of pitting corrosion.

It is important to monitor metals for signs of pitting corrosion, as it can lead to detrimental consequences if left untreated. Techniques for evaluating pitting corrosion include visual inspection and various electrochemical tests, which can help assess the condition of the metal and the extent of any pitting that has occurred. By taking appropriate preventive measures and remaining vigilant of corrosion activity, the integrity and longevity of metals in corrosive environments can be maintained.

Intergranular Corrosion

Intergranular corrosion is a type of localized corrosion that specifically occurs along the grain boundaries of metals, such as stainless steel. It involves the preferential attack of these areas which often possess a different composition due to impurities or the presence of secondary phases. Consequently, the overall performance and strength of the material can become compromised, leading to premature failure.

The susceptibility of stainless steels to intergranular corrosion can be influenced by factors including heat treatment, the steel’s composition, and the surrounding environment. During heat treatment, the precipitation of chromium-based carbides at grain boundaries can occur. This phenomenon, known as sensitization, leads to the depletion of chromium within the boundary areas, making them more susceptible to oxidation and subsequently, intergranular corrosion.

To counteract this issue, several methods can be employed to minimize sensitization and reduce susceptibility to intergranular corrosion in stainless steel. One such technique is the application of low-temperature annealing which dissolves the chromium carbides and encourages their redistribution within the crystal lattice. Another preventive measure involves the use of stabilized stainless steels or low-carbon variants, which limit the formation of chromium carbides.

It is crucial to recognize that intergranular corrosion and its effects on metals are not limited to stainless steels. For example, other susceptible materials include aluminum alloys, such as Al-Cu and AlMgSi alloys. In these cases, the nature of the alloying elements, the degree of artificial aging, and environmental factors can all contribute to the onset of intergranular corrosion.

In conclusion, understanding and mitigating the factors leading to intergranular corrosion is essential for preserving the integrity, performance, and longevity of materials susceptible to such phenomena. Proper selection of materials, modifications in heat treatment processes, and the use of specialized alloys are all strategies that can be employed to reduce the risk of intergranular corrosion in various metallurgical systems.

Stress Corrosion Cracking

steel corrosion cracking

Stress corrosion cracking (SCC) is a type of corrosion that affects metals and alloys under the combined influence of tensile stress and a corrosive environment. This phenomenon can result in the initiation and propagation of cracks in materials like stainless steel, lead, zinc, copper, and other metal alloys, causing premature failure of structures, components, or mechanical systems 1.

One primary factor in the occurrence of stress corrosion cracking is the presence of tensile stress in the metal. Tensile stresses can be residual stresses from fabrication processes or external stresses applied during service, such as the load-bearing applications in steel structures 2. In addition, environmental factors, such as temperature, play a crucial role in the initiation and propagation of SCC. Higher temperatures can accelerate corrosion reactions leading to rapid crack growth and potentially catastrophic failure in the affected metal components 3.

Stress corrosion cracking can be particularly prevalent in certain metal alloys, including stainless steel and copper-based alloys. Stainless steel, commonly used for its resistance to corrosion, can experience SCC in the presence of chloride ions, particularly at high temperatures 4. Copper-based alloys, such as brass and bronze, can be susceptible to SCC in the presence of ammonia or other specific chemical environments 5.

Preventing stress corrosion cracking requires a combined effort of material selection, proper design, stress reduction, and environmental control. In material selection, engineers may opt for more resistant alloys or apply protective coatings to reduce the impact of corrosive environments. Proper design takes into account the expected service loads to minimize the buildup of tensile stresses and prevent excessive stress concentrations in the structure. Stress reduction techniques include heat treatment, shot peening, or stress-relieving processes to alleviate residual stresses. Finally, controlling the environment involves monitoring and adjusting factors, such as temperature, humidity, and the chemical composition of the surrounding atmosphere or fluid in contact with the metal.

In conclusion, stress corrosion cracking is a significant concern in various industries that employ metals and alloys, especially in load-bearing applications. It is crucial to understand the factors contributing to SCC and implement measures to prevent its occurrence, ensuring the reliability and safety of structures, components, and mechanical systems.

Microbial Corrosion

microbial corrosion

Microbial corrosion, also known as bacterial corrosion or bio-corrosion, is a type of corrosion caused by the interaction of microorganisms with metals, particularly carbon steel. This phenomenon most often occurs in pipes and other structures that are exposed to water containing microbes, salts, and oxygen.

The process of microbial corrosion involves a chemical reaction between the microorganisms and the carbon steel surface. These microbes can either accelerate the corrosion process or directly attack the metal surface. In the presence of water, some microorganisms can produce corrosive by-products such as organic acids, metal-chelating agents, or enzymes that break down the passive oxide layer on the metal surface. As a result, the metal becomes more vulnerable to corrosion.

Environmental factors like oxygen concentration, water chemistry, and temperature can significantly influence the rate and severity of microbial corrosion. In general, higher concentrations of oxygen and salts in the water can exacerbate the corrosion process. Moreover, the corrosion rate tends to increase with temperature, making high-temperature environments particularly susceptible to microbial corrosion.

To prevent or control microbial corrosion, various strategies can be employed. These include proper material selection, where materials that are less susceptible to microbial attack are used in construction, and protective coatings that can act as a barrier between the metal surface and the corrosive agents. Additionally, biocides can be used to control microbial growth, reducing the overall population of microorganisms present in the system.

In summary, microbial corrosion is a complex process that can significantly impact the integrity of carbon steel structures, particularly in environments with the presence of water, salts, and oxygen. Preventative measures, such as material selection, protective coatings, and biocide use, can help mitigate the effects of microbial corrosion and prolong the life of structures and pipes exposed to these conditions.

Erosion Corrosion

erosion corrosion

Erosion corrosion is a type of corrosion that occurs when a metal surface is attacked by a combination of mechanical and chemical factors. The mechanical factor typically involves the abrasion caused by the movement of solids, liquids, or gases, whereas the chemical component involves an electrochemical reaction. Consequently, erosion corrosion tends to happen in environments where both abrasion and corrosion are present, such as in the presence of flowing fluids mixed with particles.

Various metals like copper and carbon steel are susceptible to erosion corrosion, depending on their use and the specific environment in which they operate. For instance, gas turbines often experience erosion corrosion due to the high-velocity flow of gases mixed with solid particles. Moreover, certain industries requiring chemical processing can expose metals to aggressive environments that can further accelerate the corrosion process.

A key factor contributing to erosion corrosion is the appearance of the metal surface. Rough surfaces tend to be more prone to erosion corrosion as they provide more contact points for abrasion and corrosion to take place. Smooth surfaces, on the other hand, offer less opportunity for these processes to occur. Metals are often treated with surface coatings or undergo specific processing techniques to minimize the likelihood of erosion corrosion.

NACE International, a global organization focused on corrosion prevention and control, has published standards and guidelines to assist engineers and professionals in minimizing or preventing erosion corrosion in metals. These recommendations include monitoring the operating conditions closely, maintaining appropriate moisture levels, controlling abrasive particles, reducing the flow velocity, and selecting materials with a higher resistance to erosion and corrosion.

In summary, erosion corrosion is a type of corrosion affecting metals in environments where both mechanical and chemical components are involved. Commonly affected materials include copper and carbon steel, which are used in applications such as gas turbines and chemical processing. The appearance of the metal surface, movement of particles, and overall environment can impact erosion corrosion rates. Adhering to industry guidelines and technical standards from organizations like NACE International is crucial in mitigating erosion corrosion and prolonging the lifespan of metals.

Filiform Corrosion

filiform corrosion

Filiform corrosion is a type of localized corrosion that affects painted metals, typically steel, aluminum, and magnesium. It occurs when coated metals are exposed to relatively high humidity levels, leading to a distinct pattern of worm-like filaments beneath the protective coating.

Aluminum, for example, is prone to filiform corrosion due to its affinity to form a thin oxide layer on its surface. While the oxide provides some protection from general corrosion, in certain environments, it doesn’t prevent the formation of filiform corrosion. The presence of moisture and other corrosive agents infiltrates the coating, resulting in corrosion attacks that follow the metal’s grain direction, forming the characteristic filaments.

The corrosion process begins with airborne contaminants or moisture accumulating on the metal’s surface. These substances weaken or penetrate the coating, initiating the corrosion reaction. As the filaments grow, they generate further oxide and corrosion products, which can exacerbate the process. In some cases, overly porous or defective coatings can also contribute to the development of filiform corrosion. To mitigate this issue, it is crucial to improve the quality and adhesion of coatings on susceptible metal surfaces.

Several factors contribute to the likelihood of filiform corrosion, including the properties of the protective coating, environmental conditions, and the alloy composition. In terms of coating properties, flexibility, adhesion, and porosity can significantly impact filiform corrosion resistance. The presence of pores in the coating can facilitate the penetration of oxygen and moisture, increasing the chances of corrosion initiation. With regard to environmental conditions, filiform corrosion is more likely to occur in humid environments where moisture can accumulate on metal surfaces.

To combat filiform corrosion, various strategies can be employed, such as using suitable protective coatings, controlling humidity, and incorporating corrosion-resistant metal alloys. The selection of an appropriate coating material is vital as it ensures enhanced barrier properties, adhesion to the metal surface, and flexibility to prevent cracks or other defects that may promote filiform corrosion. Controlling humidity and environmental conditions can also lower the odds of filiform corrosion, decreasing moisture levels and limiting exposure to corrosive agents. Finally, using corrosion-resistant metal alloys or modifying the alloy composition can help reduce the likelihood of filiform corrosion development.

Corrosion Fatigue

corrosion fatigue

Corrosion fatigue occurs when a metal or alloy experiences cyclic loading in a corrosive environment, leading to the eventual failure of the material. Metals like steel, copper, and various alloys are highly susceptible to this phenomenon, especially carbon steel. The combination of mechanical stress and corrosive attack results in the degradation of the metal, leaving it vulnerable to cracks and fissures.

In corrosion fatigue, the deterioration process typically starts with the formation of small pits or pores on the metal surface. These flaws can act as nucleation sites for the initiation of cracks under cyclic stress. As the material continues to experience mechanical loading, the cracks grow and propagate, eventually leading to failure.

One contributing factor to corrosion fatigue is the oxidation of metals at high temperatures. When metals like steel and copper are exposed to elevated temperatures, their surfaces undergo oxidation, rendering them more susceptible to corrosion. This can exacerbate the damage caused by cyclic stresses, further accelerating the deterioration process.

Different metals and alloys exhibit varying resistance to corrosion fatigue. For example, carbon steel is more prone to this type of corrosion as compared to stainless steel, which has a higher chromium content that provides better resistance against corrosive environments. Similarly, some copper alloys may offer enhanced protection against corrosion fatigue due to their specific composition.

One way to mitigate the effects of corrosion fatigue is by properly selecting materials for specific applications. Alloys with improved corrosion resistance may perform better in environments where corrosion fatigue is a concern. Additionally, protective coatings can be applied to metal surfaces to reduce the impact of corrosive environments.

Stress corrosion cracking (SCC) is another form of corrosion that shares some similarities with corrosion fatigue. Both processes involve the combined action of a corrosive environment and mechanical stress, leading to crack formation and propagation. However, unlike corrosion fatigue, SCC requires the presence of tensile stress and a specific corrosive environment to induce cracking.

In summary, corrosion fatigue is an important concern for various metals and alloys exposed to cyclic loading in corrosive environments. Oxidation at high temperatures and insufficient resistance to corrosion can further accelerate this deterioration process. To avoid significant damage and potential failure, materials should be properly selected, considering their resistance to corrosion fatigue, and protective measures can be employed to minimize the impact of corrosive environments.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the main forms of stainless steel corrosion?

There are several forms of stainless steel corrosion, including general (uniform) corrosion, pitting corrosion, crevice corrosion, stress corrosion cracking, and galvanic corrosion. Uniform corrosion occurs uniformly across the entire stainless steel surface. Pitting corrosion, on the other hand, is characterized by localized corrosion in small cavities. Crevice corrosion occurs in confined spaces where oxygen is limited, while stress corrosion cracking results from a combination of corrosion and mechanical stress. Galvanic corrosion happens when two dissimilar metals are in contact and an electrolyte is present.

What are examples of corrosion in aircraft?

Corrosion in aircraft can manifest in various forms like general corrosion, intergranular corrosion, and stress corrosion cracking. Common examples include corrosion at rivet or fastener locations, along aircraft skin panels, and around engine components. Corrosion-related failures in airplanes can affect structural integrity, leading to flight safety concerns.

How does galvanic corrosion occur?

Galvanic corrosion occurs when two dissimilar metals are in contact and an electrolyte is present, creating a difference in their corrosion potentials. The electrolyte can be any liquid capable of conducting ions, such as seawater or moisture present in the environment. In this case, the less noble metal becomes the anode and corrodes at a faster rate, while the more noble metal serves as the cathode and is protected.

Can you give examples of uniform corrosion?

Uniform corrosion, also known as general corrosion, occurs when a material corrodes evenly across its surface. Examples of uniform corrosion can be found in everyday life, such as rust formation on iron or steel structures and corrosion on copper pipes used for plumbing. Automobiles exposed to environmental factors like rain and salted roads can also experience uniform corrosion in the form of rusting.

What are the common types of corrosion in stainless steel?

Stainless steel can experience different types of corrosion based on its specific grade and exposure to environmental factors. Some common forms are uniform or general corrosion, pitting corrosion, crevice corrosion, stress corrosion cracking, and galvanic corrosion. Each form varies in its mechanism, appearance, and impact on the stainless steel’s properties and structure.


  1. https://dl.asminternational.org/handbooks/edited-volume/46/chapter-abstract/555128/Stress-Corrosion-Cracking
  2. https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1757-899X/952/1/012046/meta
  3. https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/00035590410533129/full/html?utm_campaign=Emerald_Engineering_PPV_Dec22_RoN
  4. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0010938X77900695
  5. https://onepetro.org/corrosion/article-abstract/117443/Hydrogen-Facilitated-Anodic-Dissolution-Type

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