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  All corrosive attacks begin on the surface of the metal making the classification of corrosion by physical appearance a convenient means of identification.


General surface corrosion (also referred to as Uniform Etch or Uniform Attack Corrosion) is the most common form of corrosion and results from a direct chemical attack on a metal surface and involves only the metal surface.

General surface corrosion usually occurs over a wide area and is more or less equal in dispersion. On a polished surface, this type of corrosion is first seen as a general dulling of the surface, and if allowed to continue, the surface becomes rough and possibly frosted in appearance.

The discoloration or general dulling of metal created by exposure to elevated temperatures is not to be considered general surface corrosion.


 Pitting corrosion is one of the most destructive and intense forms of corrosion. It can occur in any metal but is most common on metals that form protective oxide films, such as aluminum and magnesium alloys.

 It is first noticeable as a white or gray powdery deposit, similar to dust, which blotches the surface. When the deposit is cleaned away, tiny holes or pits can be seen in the surface.


Concentration cell corrosion, (also known as Crevice Corrosion) is corrosion of metals in a metal-to-metal joint, corrosion at the edge of a joint even though the joined metals are identical, or corrosion of a spot on the metal surface covered by a foreign material.

Metal ion concentration cells and oxygen concentration cells are the two general types of concentration cell corrosion.

 Metal Ion Concentration Cells

The solution may consist of water and ions of the metal which is in contact with water. A high concentration of the metal ions will normally exist under faying surfaces where the solution is stagnant, and a low concentration of metal ions will exist adjacent to the crevice which is created by the faying surface.

An electrical potential will exist between the two points; the area of the metal in contact with the low concentration of metal ions will be anodic and corrode, and the area in contact with the high metal ion concentration will be cathodic and not show signs of corrosion.

  Oxygen Concentration Cells

The solution in contact with the metal surface will normally contain dissolved oxygen. An oxygen cell can develop at any point where the oxygen in the air is not allowed to diffuse into the solution, thereby creating a difference in oxygen concentration between two points.

Typical locations of oxygen concentration cells are under gaskets, wood, rubber, and other materials in contact with the metal surface.


Filiform corrosion is a special form of oxygen concentration cell which occurs on metal surfaces having an organic coating system. It is recognized by its characteristic worm-like trace of corrosion products beneath the paint film.

Polyurethane finishes are especially susceptible to filiform corrosion. Filiform occurs when the relative humidity of the air is between 78 and 90 percent and the surface is slightly acidic. This corrosion usually attacks steel and aluminum surfaces.


Inter-granular corrosion is an attack on the grain boundaries of a metal. A highly magnified cross section of any commercial alloy shows the granular structure of the metal.


Ex-foliation corrosion is an advanced form of inter-granular corrosion and shows itself by lifting up the surface grains of a metal by the force of expanding corrosion products occurring at the grain boundaries just below the surface.


Galvanic corrosion occurs when two dissimilar metals make contact in the presence of an electrolyte. It is usually recognizable by the presence of a build-up of corrosion at the joint between the metals.


 Fatigue corrosion involves cyclic stress and a corrosive environment. Metals may withstand cyclic stress for an infinite number of cycles so long as the stress is below the endurance limit of the metal. Once the limit has been exceeded, the metal will eventually crack and fail from metal fatigue. However, when the part or structure undergoing cyclic stress is also exposed to a corrosive environment, the stress level for failure may be reduced many times. Thus, failure occurs at stress levels that can be dangerously low depending on the number of cycles assigned to the life-limited part.





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