Marine Corrosion Controls

Written by Jeremy Horelick
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Boaters, oil-drillers, fishermen, and legions of other workers whose businesses are on or near the water must be cognizant of potential marine corrosion problems. Seawater is one of the most common culprits in the failure of marine equipment and has even been directly or indirectly responsible for the sinking of ships and the spilling of oil. Just what is it precisely about seawater that's so potentially ruinous?

One of the most frequently encountered forms of corrosion is what's known as "galvanic" corrosion. Here, unbalanced charges between two different types of metals can lead the more cathodic (or negatively charged) metal to corrode the more anodic one. To do this, however, an electrolyte (or electrically conductive medium), must be present, and that's exactly the role that seawater fills.

Protecting against Marine Corrosion

The best way to fight the effects of marine corrosion is to prevent it from occurring altogether. This can be tricky, however, as even well-coated parts that are submerged in seawater will start to show signs of corrosion. Even parts that aren't submerged, but are regularly exposed to seawater, ocean air, and other fouling agents, can quickly lose their luster as well as their performance capabilities.

Powder coating boat parts such as fasteners, propellers, valves, and fittings is the first step in protecting them. Outer protection barriers made from petrolatum products in particular will help slow the corrosion process. You may also find coaters who can finish your marine parts with primer pastes and polymer membranes to help form a shield between them and corrosive elements such as saltwater and air.

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