5 August 1999

Rust Never Sleeps

by Kate Melville

A new technique for monitoring the electrochemical current and potential fluctuations of corrosion in materials allows engineers to 'listen in' on the 'noises' made by localised corrosion.

Developed by researchers at the Corrosion and Protection Centre at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) the approach will help researchers to gain a better understanding of how the process works and how they can best manage the corrosion problems.

The research, published in the latest edition of Materials World describes how three electrodes are used to pick up the background noise caused by fluctuations in the electrochemical reactions that take place in the corrosion process

Accoding to researcher Bob Cottis, "Until relatively recently these fluctuations were simply regarded as a nuisance that interfered in the real task of measuring average behaviour. There is little doubt that these electrochemical noise signals contain information about the corrosion process."

Although no automated technique yet exists for commercial on-line monitoring the technique could be used to identify between different types of localised corrosion.