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The direct cost of corrosion in the United States was estimated to be $276 billion annually for 1998, or 3.1% of the 1998 U.S. gross domestic product of $8.79 trillion [1]. Of the industry sectors analyzed, utilities and transportation experienced the largest costs. The largest investment in corrosion control and protection strategies was in protective organic coatings. Indirect costs of corrosion, including lost productivity and corrosion-related overhead and taxes, when averaged over industry sectors, were roughly equal to or greater than the direct costs. In some cases they were substantially greater. For example, indirect corrosion costs related to the U.S. bridge infrastructure were estimated to be more than 10 times the $8.3 billion direct cost from bridge corrosion damage. Additional information is available in the article “Direct Costs of Corrosion in the United States” in this Volume.

ASM Handbook, Volume 13A, Corrosion: Fundamentals, Testing, and Protection, is the first volume in a two-volume update, revision, and expansion of Corrosion, Volume 13 of the ninth edition Metals Handbook, published in 1987. The second volume—ASM Handbook, Volume 13B, Corrosion: Materials, Environments, and Industries—is to be published in 2005. The purpose of these two volumes is to represent the current state of knowledge in the field of corrosion and to provide a perspective on future trends in the field. Metals remain the major focus of the Handbook, but nonmetallic materials occupy a more prominent position that reflects their wide and effective use to solve problems of corrosion. Wet or aqueous corrosion remains the major focus, but dry or gaseous corrosion is discussed more fully, reflecting the increased importance of processes at elevated and high temperatures.

ASM Handbook, Volume 13A recognizes the global nature of corrosion research and practice and the international level of corrosion activities and interactions required to provide cost-effective, safe, and environmentally sound solutions to materials problems in chemically aggressive environments. Twenty percent of the articles in Volume 13A did not appear in the 1987 Handbook. Authors from more than ten countries have contributed to Volume 13A. The table of contents has been translated into Spanish, French, Russian, Japanese, and Chinese to make the Handbook accessible to a diverse audience. Extensive references provide a road map to the corrosion literature and are augmented by Selected References that are a source of additional information.

Information technology has changed dramatically since 1987, and the most significant occurrence has been the development of the Internet as an information resource. In response, ASM International has made the contents of this Handbook and others in the ASM Handbook series available on the Web. This Handbook also provides a list, current at the time of publication, of significant data sources and of major national, international, academic, and government corrosion organizations and institutions that are accessible on the Web.

Corrosion is described by well-known laws of thermodynamics, kinetics, and electrochemistry. The many variables that influence the behavior of a material in its environment can lead to a wide and complex range of performance, from the benign to the catastrophic. Understanding and avoiding detrimental corrosion is an interdisciplinary effort requiring knowledge of chemistry, electrochemistry, materials, engineering, and structures. All applications of engineered materials pivot on the fulcrum between environmental degradation, of which corrosion is a major element, and service or service life, with cost determining the point of balance. Costs are determined not in the spare confines of a material and its environment but in a complex landscape defined by technical, economic, social, environmental, health, safety, legal, and consumer constraints. This is illustrated by the experience of a Portland, OR Water Bureau engineer working to make way for a new light rail line along city streets [2]:

…Construction conflicts are anticipated…, but day-to-day construction also alters the original design and corrosion control scheme of existing installations. As development occurs and utilities weave and cross, coatings are damaged, pipes are shorted, wires are cut, and test stations always seem to disappear…Work had to be sequenced and paced to minimize traffic interference… Environmental regulators were classifying the pavement as an engineered cap for brownfield and other contaminated areas…Utilities responded by characterizing the roadway as a constantly opening and closing zipper because we continually construct there… Corrosion control methods for urban areas must be designed for installation and operation in a congested environment that is constantly changing.

This Handbook is organized into six major sections addressing corrosion fundamentals, testing, and protection.

The first Section, “Fundamentals of Corrosion,” covers the theory of aqueous and gaseous corrosion from the thermodynamic and kinetic perspectives. It presents the principles of electrochemistry, the mechanisms of corrosion processes, and the methods for measuring corrosion rates in aqueous, molten salt, liquid metals, and gaseous environments. It introduces geochemical modeling as a means for characterizing and understanding corrosion in complex environments. While corrosion is usually associated with the environmental degradation of a material, this Section also describes ways in which corrosion is used for constructive or beneficial purposes.

The second Section, “Forms of Corrosion,” describes how to recognize the different types of corrosion and the forces that influence them. It addresses uniform corrosion, localized corrosion, metallurgically influenced corrosion, mechanically assisted corrosion, environmentally induced cracking, and microbiologically influenced corrosion. The Section introduces the complex processes of wear-corrosion interactions that accelerate material deterioration at rates greater than those resulting from wear processes or corrosion processes alone.

The third Section, “Corrosion Testing and Evaluation,” describes the planning of corrosion tests, evaluation of test results, laboratory corrosion testing, simulated service testing, and in-service techniques for damage detection and monitoring. It concludes by describing standard methods and practices for evaluating the various forms of corrosion.

The fourth Section, “Methods of Corrosion Protection,” begins by discussing as a baseline the corrosion resistance of bulk materials. The Section continues with methods of corrosion protection, including surface treatments and conversion coatings, ceramic, glass and oxide coatings, metal coatings, coatings and linings, electrochemical corrosion control methods, and corrosion inhibitors.

The fifth Section, “Designing for Corrosion Control and Prevention,” continues the theme of the fourth Section from the perspective of materials selection and equipment design. Corrosion control is an economic process as well as a technical process, and this Section discusses corrosion economic calculations, predictive modeling for structure service life, and a review of corrosion costs in the United States.

The sixth Section, “Tools for the Corrosionist,” covers topics that are complementary to corrosion fundamentals, testing, and protection. It is a new addition to the Handbook. The topics include conventions and definitions in corrosion and oxidation, applications of modern analytical instruments in corrosion, materials science, statistics, and information sources and databases.

Other useful Handbook contents include the “Glossary of Terms,” containing definitions of corrosion, electrochemistry, and materials terms common to corrosion and defined in the literature of ISO, ASTM, and NACE International. The “Corrosion Rate Conversion” Section includes conversions in both nomograph and tabular form. The metric conversion guide features conversion factors for common units and includes SI prefixes. Finally, “Abbreviations and Symbols” provides a key to common acronyms, abbreviations, and symbols.

The six Sections in the Handbook are divided into several subsections. These subsections were organized and written under the leadership of the following individuals (listed in alphabetical order):

ChairpersonSubsection Title
Vinod S. Agarwala In-Service Techniques for Damage Detection and Monitoring 
Rudolph G. Buchheit Surface Treatments and Conversion Coatings 
Bernard S. Covino, Jr. Laboratory Corrosion Testing 
Bruce D. Craig Environmentally Induced Cracking 
Stephen D. Cramer Simulated Service Testing
Metal Coatings
Corrosion Inhibitors
Tools for the Corrosionist 
Marek Danielewski Fundamentals of Gaseous Corrosion 
Stephen C. Dexter Microbiologically Influenced Corrosion 
Peter Elliott Designing for Corrosion Control and Protection 
Gerald Frankel Metallurgically Influenced Corrosion 
William A. Glaeser Mechanically Assisted Degradation 
Russell D. Kane Uniform Corrosion 
Carl E. Locke, Jr. Electrochemical Corrosion Control Methods 
Philippe Marcus Fundamentals of Corrosion Thermodynamics 
Paul M. Natishan Corrosion Resistance of Bulk Materials 
Bopinder S. Phull Evaluating Forms of Corrosion 
Vilupanur A. Ravi Ceramic, Glass, and Oxide Coatings 
Pierre R. Roberge Planning Corrosion Tests and Evaluating Results 
John R. Scully Fundamentals of Aqueous Corrosion Kinetics 
Susan Smialowska Localized Corrosion 
Kenneth B. Tator Coatings and Linings 
Peter F. Tortorelli Fundamentals Applied to Specific Environments 
Ian Wright Mechanically Assisted Degradation 
Margaret Ziomek-Moroz Fundamentals of Corrosion for Constructive Purposes 

These talented and dedicated individuals generously devoted considerable time to the preparation of this Handbook. They were joined in this effort by more than 120 authors who contributed their expertise and creativity in a collaborative venture to write or revise the articles and by more than 200 reviewers and 5 translators. These volunteers built on the contributions of earlier Handbook authors and reviewers who provided the solid foundation on which the present Handbook rests.

For articles revised from the previous edition, the contribution of these authors is acknowledged at the end of articles. This location in no way diminishes their contribution or our gratitude. Those responsible for the current revision are named after the title. The variation in the amount of revision is broad. The many completely new articles presented no challenge for attribution, but assigning fair credit for revised articles was more problematic. The choice of presenting authors' names without comment or with the qualifier “Revised by” is solely the responsibility of the ASM staff.

We thank ASM International and the ASM staff for their skilled support and valued expertise in the production of this Handbook. In particular, we thank Charles Moosbrugger, Gayle Anton, and Scott Henry for their encouragement, tactful diplomacy, and many discussions, plus, we should add, their wistful forbearance as deadlines came and went. The Albany Research Center, U.S. Department of Energy, gave us support and flexibility in our assignments to participate in this project and we are most grateful. In particular, we thank our supervisors Jeffrey A. Hawk and Cynthia P. Doğan, who were most gracious and generous with their encouragement throughout the project.

We close with these thoughtful words from T.R.B. (Tom) Watson, president of NACE International, 1964–65, author of Why Metals Corrode, and corrosion leader. [3]

Mighty ships upon the ocean, suffer from severe corrosion.
Even those that stay at dockside, are rapidly becoming oxide.
Alas, that piling in the sea is mostly Fe2O3.
And where the ocean meets the shore, you'll find there's Fe3O4.
'Cause when the wind is salt and gusty, things are getting awfully rusty.
We can measure it, we can test it, we can halt it or arrest it;
We can scrape it and weigh it; we can coat it or spray it;
We can examine and dissect it; we can cathodically protect it.
We can pick it up and drop it, but heaven knows we'll never stop it.
So here's to rust, no doubt about it; most of us would starve without it.

That said, given the thermodynamic, kinetic, and economic principles at work in our world, corrosion will not stop. This Handbook helps show us how to live with it.


G.H. Koch, M.P.H. Brongers, N.G. Thompson, Y.P. Virmani, and J.H. Payer, Corrosion Cost and Preventive Strategies in the United States, FHWA-RD-01–156, Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation, Washington D.C., 773 pp., March 2002.


Stu Greenberger, Underground Water Utilities—Crowded and Complex, Mater. Perform., Vol 41, No. 7, July 2002, p 8.


“Rust’s a Must,” by T.R.B. Watson, poem reprinted by permission of Jean Watson; also reprinted in The Boatowner’s Guide to Corrosion, by Everett Collier, Ragged Mountain Press, Camden ME, 2001. One line of the poem was modified for the purposes of this publication.

Stephen D. Cramer
Bernard S. Covino, Jr.
U.S. Department of Energy, Albany Research Center

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