Perspectives: The High Cost of Corrosion

Article From: Products Finishing, from Products Finishing

Posted on: 9/1/2002

A two-year study sponsored by NACE, the International Corrosion Society, estimates the cost of corrosion in the United States to be $267 billion annually.

A two-year study sponsored by NACE, the International Corrosion Society, estimates the cost of corrosion in the United States to be $267 billion annually. That’s a lot of rust. Actually, the study claims it is 3.15% of the Gross Domestic Product. The study also estimates, however, that using state-of-the-art corrosion management practices could save 25-30%.

Five major sectors were studied: infrastructure, utilities, transportation, production and manufacturing, and government. Utilities represented nearly 35% of the total. Transportation was 22%; infrastructure 16%; government 15%; and production and manufacturing 13%. “The current study showed that technological changes have provided many new ways to prevent corrosion, and the improved use of available corrosion management techniques,” stated Neil Thompson, president of CC Technologies, which conducted the study.

The study suggests four common ways to prevent corrosion. These included cathodic protection, materials selection (stainless steel, plastic, etc.) and corrosion inhibitors, which when added to a particular environment, decrease the rate of attack on a material, such as metal. The number one suggestion, however, was coatings. Well, that is nothing new to finishers. That is nothing new to engineers, designers and others who want to provide the best corrosion protection possible. Finishes also provide wear resistance, decorative appeal, conductivity and a number of other properties.

What engineers, designers and others need to know is what is the BEST coating for their particular application. The best way to do this is to have the finisher involved at the beginning, when engineers start designing the product. The finisher knows what coatings will work best in what environments. The finisher can tell the engineers if a certain substrate is better to work with than another and why. Finishers can tell them why certain designs will not work.

Many shops are doing this, but the message has to keep penetrating industry. Not only industry should know to work with the finishers, but also the public needs to be made aware of the value of corrosion-inhibiting coatings. There’s a project all the societies need to collaborate on.

For more information on the NACE study, contact Raymond L. Poltorak, NACE, at 281-228-6276; fax: 281-228-6376; or email:


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