Steel is the world’s most common construction and industrial material. Renowned for its tensile strength and durability, steel is the no.1 choice of metal for use in heavy plant machinery, rugged outdoor structures such as bridges, and a variety of land and sea mechanical applications. However, in the presence of corrosive water, oxygen, and chloride ions, steel can suffer considerable degradation. It is, therefore, important to inhibit corrosion where at all possible, using high-performance protective coatings and sealants.
Why Steel is prone to Corrosion
Like with any metal, the chief cause of corrosion in steel stems from the electrochemical oxidation of iron contained in steel itself, in the presence of water and oxygen. With this process being exasperated by the presence of chlorine ions, steel in coastal areas is particularly prone to corrosion. However, carbon monoxide and many other chemicals brought about by modern human activity can also exasperate the corrosion process. This being the case, when looking to inhibit corrosion in steel, it is important to recognize the specific corrosive properties of the environment in which a steel structure (or similar) is located.
Galvanic Steel Corrosion
Like with all metals, corrosion in steel can be significantly exasperated by galvanic or bimetallic processes, ones in which direct contact with a more noble metal and a common electrolyte (such as moisture in the air) will cause an exchange of electrons between the two metals. When the less nobel metal is steel (or predominantly iron based), that steel will corrode.
Thankfully, because steel is so widely used, there are a variety of ways in which galvanic corrosion of the iron in steel can be prevented. In fact, perhaps the most commonly recognized way of preventing both galvanic and atmospheric corrosion in steel, is to coat steel with chromium oxide. Coating steel with chromium oxide results in what is commonly referred to as stainless steel, however, steel in large scale construction environments is often also coated with zinc and aluminum in order to prevent corrosion.
Of course, the environment in which a steel structure or piece of mechanical equipment is located will often dictate what corrosion protection is employed. In marine environments, for example, cathodic protection of steel will often be implemented, whereby control of corrosive processes is achieved by making steel itself the cathode of an electrochemical cell. In order to do this, a less noble, sacrificial metal will be used to act as the anode which degrades in place of the steel which it serves as protecting.
Naturaseal Sealants & Better Corrosion Protection
Regardless of where a steel structure is located, one rule will always stay the same. Namely, steel metal surfaces and equipment parts which are isolated from direct contact with other metals and corrosive environmental factors will not rust or degrade. This is why applying a protective coating to steel surfaces is often the easiest way to counter corrosion.
The important thing to remember when applying a protective coating to steel is that coatings themselves must be fit for purpose. This is why at Naturaseal, we have formulated a range of coating products designed for application in a variety of different work and environmental contexts. Naturaseal MineSeal, for example, is specially formulated to provide total elastomeric and waterproofing protection in heavy industrial settings.
Versatile & Highly Durable Steel Corrosion Protection
Whether used to provide corrosion protection in marine, rural, or industrial settings, sealants such as Naturaseal BrushSeal, SpraySeal, and MineSeal, are easy to apply, require minimal surface preparation, and can provide total corrosion protection from a wide range of climatic, chemical, and environmental factors. In fact, protective sealants such as our spray seal are even capable of self-healing after being compromised.
Are you looking for total protection of steel on or around your property? If so, make sure to discover more about our different elastomeric waterproofing and sealant coatings today. In like regard, don’t hesitate to contact is directly for more specific application information.