Other Forms of Corrosion - Steel Structures.

Various types of localized corrosion can also occur:

(1) Pitting corrosion. In some circumstances the attack on the original anodic area is not stifled and continues deep into the metal, forming a corrosion pit. Pitting more often occurs with mild steels immersed in water or buried  in soil rather than those exposed in air.

(2) Crevice corrosion. Crevices can be formed by design-detailing, welding, surface debris, etc. Available oxygen in the crevice is quickly used by the corrosion process and, because of limited access, cannot be replaced. The entrance to the crevice becomes catholic, since it can satisfy the oxygen-demanding cathode reaction. The tip of the crevice becomes a localized anode, and high corrosion rates occur at this point.

(3) Bimetallic corrosion. When two dissimilar metals are joined together in an  electrolyte an electrical current passes between them and corrosion occurs on the anodic metal. Some metals (e.g. nickel and copper) cause steel to corrode preferentially whereas other metals corrode preferentially themselves, thereby protecting the steel. The tendency of dissimilar metals to bimetallic corrosion is partly dependent upon their respective positions in the galvanic series  (Table 35.1): the further apart the two metals are in the series the greater the tendency. Other aspects which influence bimetallic corrosion are the nature of the electrolyte and the respective surface areas of the anodic  and cathodic metals. Bimetallic corrosion is most serious for immersed or buried structures but in less aggressive environments, e.g. stainless steel brick support angles attached to mild steel structural sections, the effect on the mild steel sections is practically minimal and no special precautions are required.

Bimetallic corrosion and structural steelwork
Bimetallic corrosion and structural steelwork

Further guidance for the avoidance of bimetallic corrosion can be found in BS PD 6484, Commentary on corrosion at bimetallic contacts and its alleviation.

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