Corrosion of metals, effects of UV light: 2 problems, just 1 solution!

Could a same coating be useful to prevent corrosion of metals and UV light color degradation at once? The answer is YES and we explain you how!

Metal corrosion is a very common problem in industry with costly effects (loss of production, equipment failure, accidents, etc.). Dealing with corrosion has had a cost equivalent to 3.4% of GDP (Global Gross Domestic Product) or US$ 2.5 trillion in 2013 according to the NACE institute 

On the other hand, it is well known that weather, specifically ultraviolet light, can also impart damage to coatings reducing its service life. UV light is the electromagnetic radiation whose wavelength is in the range of 1µm and 10 nm. All molecules are excited by absorbing radiant energy, which produce molecular structure changes promoting coating degradation.[1] As a specialty coil coater, ARCEO Engineering is committed to provide optimal coating solutions for metallic substrate protection from both corrosion and ultraviolet light degradation.       

How metals are corroded?

Almost all metals are susceptible to be corroded when they are exposed to the environment. This environment can be the atmospheric air or an aqueous solution like the ocean water. Corrosion is an electrochemical process and it always occurs when the metal is in contact with an electrolyte, which is a solution containing ions. A simple example of an electrolyte is water that contains oxygen, H+ (Protons) and OH- (Hydroxide ions). In case of the atmospheric air, there will be an electrolyte when the metal is in contact with the critical relative humidity value of 60%.[2]  

Corrosion of metals

Figure 1. Corrosion of metals as a surface phenomenon is produced when metals are in contact with ions of an electrolyte to form the metal oxide or hydroxide

Corrosion is a surface phenomenon and is produced when metals react with ions in the electrolyte to form the metal oxide or hydroxide. The most common metal widely used in industry and prone to corrosion is steel. This material is an alloy of mainly iron (Fe) and carbon (C). Iron react with OH- to form Fe(OH)2 that continues to oxidize if water is present to form [Fe2O3.xH2O]. This last compound, commonly called rust, is the typical red deposition that we observe on the steel or iron surfaces.[2]

Current approaches to prevent metals from corrosion 

  •  Steel galvanization: this is the most typical technique to protect steel from environment degradation. It consists of a zinc coating deposited on the steel surface. Zinc is much less susceptible to corrosion than steel.
  •  Making steel stainless: it is an alloy of iron and at least 10.5% of chromium plus other elements such as carbon, silicon, manganese, nickel and molybdenum. These two last elements improve protection from corrosion and give formability to stainless steel. Chromium is the key element as it forms a passivation layer when combined with oxygen to produce chromium oxide. Stainless steel can be austenite or ferrite.   
  • Duplex and super duplex stainless steel: duplex stainless steel is a stainless steel with a chemical composition made of an equal mixture of ferrite and austenite. Super duplex stainless steel is a duplex grade with a higher content of molybdenum and chromium. These kinds of stainless steel provide a higher corrosion resistance than traditional stainless steel.[3]

 What are the effects of ultraviolet light on coatings?

Ultraviolet light belongs to the electromagnetic spectrum. It is also called visible light because it is the radiant energy that the human eye can absorb. All forms of electromagnetic radiation are characterized by their wavelength (λ) and their frequency (ν) (number of waves per second).[1]  

Figure 2. Electromagnetic radiation. Molecules are excited when absorbing radiation. The shorter the wavelength the more energetic the radiation. When it is energetic enough, radiation can break chemical bonds of molecules.

When molecules absorb radiant energy they are excited (an electron goes from the ground state to a higher energy state). The smaller the wavelength the higher the radiation energy and when it is energetic enough, radiation can break chemical bonds. Visible light has a sufficiently short wavelength to break covalent bonds of organic molecules. Double carbon bonds (-C=C-) are less chemically stable than single carbon bonds (-C-C-), so double carbon bonds are broken more easily than the single ones. 

Paint coatings are basically composed by a resin (binder, an organic molecule), a solvent and a pigment that could also be an organic compound. If the pigment is made of a double carbon bond chain, ultraviolet light will break these chemical bonds and photochemical reactions will introduce molecular changes producing color and coating degradation (both pigment and resin will be damaged) in a short period of time.[1]  

What ARCEO Engineering proposes for your corrosion of metals and coating degradation problems

Even if duplex and super duplex stainless steel are excellent options for corrosion protection of metals, especially in the oil & gas industry (where a very corrosive environment is found), their metallurgy is much more complex than for traditional stainless steel (austenite and ferrite) and therefore, their production at mills is more complicated.[3] Additionally, corrosion tests for these materials in specific environments are not always available, so tests in-site are needed.[4]

Traditional stainless steel is easy available but the passivation layer of chromium is not capable to resist in highly corrosive environment such as those found in the oil & gas industry (stainless steel is susceptible to pitting, crevice and intergranular corrosion).[5] ARCEO Engineering proposes Polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) pre-coated stainless steel, aluminum, zinc and flat carbon steel. PVDF is a very inert polymer with an outstanding corrosion resistance and known chemical and physical properties. Moreover, PVDF is also an easy available material already proved in the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) field in projects like Ichthys, Woodside, Gorgon and Yamal. PVDF gives an increased corrosion protection to stainless steel cladding. Aditionally, the molecular structure of PVDF gives further advantages to the coating service life. 

Polyvinylidene fluoride

Figure 3. Molecular structure of Polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF). It is composed by a single carbon bond (-c-c-) chain and every C-H bond is next to 4 C-F bonds. This makes PVDF molecule completely photochemically and electrochemically stable

PVDF is a polymer composed by a single carbon bond (-C-) chain. Furthermore, the C-H bonds are next to 4 C-F bonds. The result is a material completely resistant to the effects of UV light as well as electrochemically stable.[6] Polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) pre-coated stainless steel is the perfect choice for stainless steel pipe work, industrial pipe insulation and architectural cladding for severe environment conditions.

Our polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) pre-coated metals, ArenStrong, (stainless steel, aluminium, zinc and flat carbon steel) is composed by two layers but it can be composed up to 4 layers:  

  1.    Up to 15 µm primer
  2.    Up to 20 µm UV-barrier PVDF
  3.    Up to 20 µm coloured PVDF
  4.    Up to 15 µm transparent PVDF varnish

To know more about our polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) pre-coated metals solution ArenStrong see our product technical datasheet.

Supportive resources:

1. Clive H. Hare (1992). The degradation of coatings by ultraviolet light and electromagnetic radiation. Journal of protective coatings & linings. (LU-8029).

2. McCafferty, E. (2010). Introduction to corrosion science. New York, NY: Springer New York.

3.British Stainless Steel Association (2018). Duplex stainless steels – A simplified guide. Available at: https://www.bssa.org.uk/topics.php?article=668

4. Joanne McIntyre. (May 2018). Knowledge sharing is key: an interview with Dow’s leading materials expert. Stainless Steel World journal.

5. Groysman A. (2017). Corrosion problems and solutions in oil, gas and petrochemical industry. Israeli Society of Chemical Engineers & chemists.

6. Kurt Wood. (2002). Effect of fluoropolymer architecture on the exterior weathering of coatings. Atofina Chemicals, Inc. Technical polymer R&D (USA).

If you want to know more about us you can read our article Coil coater ARCEO Engineering: who we are.

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