Corrosion Awareness Day 2022 - The Cost of Corrosion and How Chemistry Can Help

The Cost of Corrosion

According to a study from NACE international in 2016, corrosion cost was estimated at $2.5 trillion (USD) per year. Today, it is estimated around $3 trillion, which is almost 3.5% of the 2020 world Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Aside from financial cost, corrosion also contributes significantly to human impact on the environment, specifically greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, by reducing durability of metal products, industrial equipment, vehicles and infrastructures. In most cases, corroded metal products will have to be replaced, generating significant GHG emissions from recycling, melting, forming, assembling, transporting and more. Thus, extending durability of metal products is key to minimize those impacts and should be considered a significant, tangible lever to mitigate climate change in industrial applications.


Reduce by Extending Life of Metal Objects and Parts

The first step to limit pressure on the environment—according to the three Rs —is to reduce consumption, as it means consuming less energy for production and recycling and ultimately generating less waste.


Metallurgy accounts for 7% of global GHG emissions. This comes mainly from primary metal production. Energy required to produce 1 Ton of steel generates on average 1.8 Tons of CO2. Recycling metal is contributing to significantly reducing GHG emissions with 0.6-0.8 Ton of CO2 per Ton of recycled steel.

life cycle of metal parts

Extending the life of metal products, by preventing corrosion, by 10% could contribute to reducing by the same amount the CO2 emission from its production and recycling. This could represent several dozens of Million Tons of CO2 emission avoidance.


Protect from Corrosion

Besides monitoring, ways to prevent corrosion depend on the context of use of the metal part. In a liquid environment—such as pipelines, liquid containers or parts in contact with liquids like lubricants or metalworking fluids—the use of corrosion inhibitors is one solution. 

In a non liquid environment, protective layers are often used to protect the metallic part. Some layers even have the additional function of aesthetics and decoration. These layers can consist of other types of metal that are less sensitive to corrosion but cannot be used as the main material due to their cost or their properties (thermal, mechanical, conductive etc.). Various methods can be used to apply another layer of metal onto the part—A few examples include galvanization, plating and anodization. Organic coatings are also used to cover the metal part for protection and for a flexible and highly customizable finish. 


The Role of Chemistry

In the second type of layer mentioned above, chemistry plays a key role to improve corrosion resistance by optimizing bulk and interfacial properties. First the bond between the metal substrate and the coating can be reinforced by using additives like AddibondTM polymers that create a chemical bridge between the two interfaces. 

cupping tests show improved paint adhesion when Addibond polymer is used in metal treatment

As a result, the paint stays tightly in place and can act longer as a barrier layer against corrosion. Because corrosion causes significant structural and aesthetic challenges, OEMs and formulators of direct-to-metal coatings require solutions that deliver moisture and water resistance, improved adhesion and optimal durability for wide-ranging applications. Solvay’s solutions offer outstanding anti-corrosion performance for the industry’s most challenging coating and paint applications. Sipomer® PAM and Sipomer® COPS specialty monomers, improve corrosion resistance and adhesion to aluminum and cold metals.