The Extreme Costs of Corrosion

May 18, 2015

How costly and dangerous is corrosion? The cost of corrosion in the U.S. alone is estimated at $276 billion per year. To put that number in perspective, the cost of corrosion in the U.S. is higher than the GDP of nearly 40 countries. In this post, we'll see how composites can help significantly reduce the costs associated with corrosion.

How costly is corrosion? The economic impact of corrosion are far greater than most people realize; according to this report published by NACE (link to article: “Corrosion Costs and Preventative Strategies in the United States”) the cost of corrosion in the U.S. alone is $276 billion per year — that’s more than 3% of the nation’s GDP! Of this, about $121 billion was spent to control corrosion, leaving the difference of $155 billion as the net loss to the economy. The total annual direct cost of corrosion for production and manufacturing is estimated to be $17.6 billion.

The point where pipe intersects support steel has proven to be one of the most common locations for major corrosion problems (see figure B below). One solution, though costly, is coating the pipe with a protective barrier. In order to apply this coating, the pipe is cleaned, resurfaced and then coated. The costs/risks associated include labor, machinery and the potential of a line shut-down.

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In Figure A, the corrosion barrier of a coated pipe is compromised over time due to operating variables such as movement. In Figure B, corrosion has begun at the point where pipe intersects support steel.

While these expensive and time-consuming coatings can help reduce some of the factors that lead to corrosion, they are ultimately rendered ineffective when steel pipe is placed directly on an I-beam. Expansion, contraction and vibration cause the pipe to move and the resulting abrasion compromises the corrosion barrier over time (see figure A above). Once the coating is worn away, bare metal, moisture from condensation, electrical charge and oxygen are all working in tandem to create the perfect corrosion cell.

Measuring Up

As discussed, pipes are subjected to movement due to changes in temperature, load or other operating variables. In order to prove the effectiveness of composites in these situations, we’ve performed frictional abrasion wear tests, among others, on our ProTek Composite Wear Pads and AeroTek Cradle. These tests have conclusively shown that our composite wear pads are unaffected by the movement experienced during operation and thus protect your pipe from this movement, as well.

TESTING PROCEDURE

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Simulating frictional abrasion to measure wear over 20 years

This apparatus was sitting on an I-beam with an 8-inch wide flange. A load of 3,000 pounds was applied to the wear pad/cradle. The test apparatus was moved longitudinally across the I-beam (4 inches in each direction). This was to simulate thermal cycling over 20 years of operation, with a safety factor of 4.

ABRASION WEAR TEST RESULTS

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Light dusting occurred after 150 cycles or 20 years

The wear pad/cradle only exhibited slight dusting of the wear pad after 150 cycles.

CONCLUSIONS

With a composite wear pad or cradle between your pipe and an I-beam, the costs of corrosion damage and repair are completely mitigated for more than 20 years!

An Ounce of Prevention

This oft-quoted saying certainly applies to preventing and protecting piping systems from the detrimental effects of corrosion. Compared to the costs of repairs after corrosion gains a foothold, the price of protective composite wear pads and pipe shoes is minimal and easily justified.

Find out how our highly engineered composite pipe support solutions prolong the life of your valuable piping system and help save you time and money!

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