Corrosion inhibitors are substances that inhibit or slow down corrosive processes.
Corrosion is an electrochemical process caused by the difference in potential between the corrosive element and the electrolyte solution in which the element is immersed. In such circumstances metal with a lower electrochemical potential acts as an anode being subject to oxidation. As a result, ions of this metal are transferred to the solution. Corrosive agents include: oxygen, peroxides, organic acids, carbon dioxide, as well as phenols and hydrogen sulphide.
Inhibitors, on the other hand, have a protective function, preventing damage to metal and metal alloy components. The use of corrosion inhibitors prevents or significantly reduces the progress of corrosion. They cover the surface of a material with a protective layer by adsorption of inhibitor molecules. The resulting thin film acts as a barrier preventing the destruction of the material. In addition, the inhibitors ensure an adequate pH level, slowing down the progress of corrosion.
There are two types of corrosion inhibitors:
1) anodic inhibitors – they inhibit reactions occurring on the anode; otherwise they are known as passivating inhibitors. They react at the contact area between the corrosive material and the environment in which the material is located. This is where they form a layer of oxides which protects the metal against migration to the environment.
2) cathodic inhibitors – they block reactions occurring on the cathode; otherwise they are known as precipitation inhibitors. They cause precipitation of water-insoluble sediments of hydroxides and carbonates.
Substances inhibiting corrosive processes are used mainly in the metallurgical industry and in the manufacturing of preparations for industrial washing and cleaning.
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