Cathodic Protection Processes: Prevent Sea Salt-Related Corrosion

When businesses spend money on maritime equipment, they need to feel protected against the effects of saltwater corrosion. Unfortunately, saltwater contains dissolved ions, or charged particles, involved in metal corrosion. To protect expensive equipment against corrosion, it’s essential to invest in cathodic protection.

Understanding the Dangers of Saltwater Corrosion

Sodium chloride and other dissolved ions act as electrolytes, increasing the flow of electricity between metallic surfaces. Increased electrochemical activity results in oxidation, a process that causes metals to break down. Metal degradation occurs due to the loss of electrons, which are the negatively charged particles found outside the nucleus of an atom.

Corrosion affects steel, aluminum, and metal alloys, making sea vessels and underwater structures more susceptible to premature wear. Typically, manufacturers used specialized paint coatings to reduce the amount of contact between metal surfaces and saltwater. However, these specialized coatings don’t always provide enough protection to prevent corrosion-related damage.

Fundamentals of Cathodic Protection

Cathodic protection is a more effective method of preventing erosion on sea vessels and submerged structures. It involves turning the active areas of a metal surface into cathodes, which are the points at which an atom gains at least one electron.

Galvanic anode cathodic protection involves using aluminum, magnesium, or zinc alloys as anodes, which are the points where oxygen is removed, or hydrogen is added. These alloys are all more active than steel and other metals used to make sea vessels and submerged equipment. As a result, corrosion of the anode material protects the cathode material from corrosion. In simple terms, the anode “sacrifices” itself to shield the cathode from the harmful effects of salt water.

Previously, these anode materials were known as sacrificial anodes. However, the term is a bit outdated. Manufacturers now refer to the materials as galvanic anodes. Galvanization prevents metal from rusting, making it critical for manufacturers involved in producing parts for sea vessels or underwater equipment.

Selecting the Right Cathodic Anode for Your Needs

Belmont Metals uses zinc alloys for superior protection against sea water-related corrosion. When attached to a galvanic anode, zinc causes the anode to corrode, protecting the corresponding cathode. The reason Belmont work primarily with zinc alloys is because zinc is less resistant to electrolytes than other anodes, making it ideal for sea vessels and submerged metal equipment.

If zinc isn’t suitable for a specific marine application, a manufacturer may choose to use alloys made from aluminum or magnesium. Aluminum works well in sea water and brackish water, so it gives manufacturers a little more flexibility. Magnesium excels at creating protective deposits on a cathode metal, so it’s a good choice for high-stress marine environments.

Protect Equipment from Saltwater

Cathodic protection processes are more effective than traditional methods of preventing metal corrosion, especially when used to shield sea vessels and submerged equipment from the ravages of saltwater. Belmont Metals uses zinc alloys to provide unparalleled protection in saltwater environments.

Keep sea vessels and underwater structures protected from corrosion with Belmont Metal’s variety of cathodic anodes. Contact our team for more information.