Corrosion and architecture: choosing stainless steel

Considerable financial stakes

An increase in the use of metal in construction and infrastructure means that professionals in architecture and building construction now have to deal with the issue of corrosion. According to a 2016 study by the NACE (National Association of Corrosion Engineers), the global cost of corrosion will reach $US2.5 billion.

According to the Union of International Associations (a centre for research and documentation on human issues), the costs associated with malfunctions and repairs resulting from corrosion in the US will be equivalent to 5% of the GDP

It is estimated that between 15% and 35% of these costs could be avoided by making better materials choices at the design stage and by adopting better protective measures. As a result, the use of appropriate alloys and better knowledge of the limitations of these alloys relative to their usage conditions are two examples of standard measures aimed at preventing malfunctions caused by corrosion.

 

What is corrosion?

Corrosion is the deterioration of a metal caused by a reaction to the environment. This reaction can differ from one metal to the next, but it is usually characterized by a total or partial loss of integrity of the metal in question. Corrosion has many costly consequences.
These include:

  • equipment malfunction;
  • early deterioration;
  • damage to structural elements;
  • toxic spills;
  • water damage;
  • esthetic changes.

Corrosion affects not only industry, but also infrastructure, buildings and public services.

 

How and why should you choose stainless steel?

Stainless steel has an excellent reputation due to its resistance to corrosion. However, even stainless steel corrodes under certain conditions and the resulting consequences are unexpected and often disastrous.

There are currently more than 120 alloys/standardized grades of stainless steel listed in industry papers. Each of these grades possess a standardized chemistry that allows it to achieve a certain level of performance in terms of resistance to corrosion, mechanical properties and ease of assembly.

The best alloy for a specific construction project should be chosen by considering several elements, which include:

  • the building environment (hostile environment or not, climatic conditions, pollution, etc.);
  • the conditions for which the materials were designed;
  • the maintenance requirements for these materials.

 

Conclusion

Building architects must bear in mind that the use of metal in a building leads to the risk of corrosion, even if the metal is stainless steel. These risks can be minimized and even avoided if the architect chooses an alloy that is well suited to the specific factors at play. Therefore, it is vital that you:

  • • understand the phenomena associated with corrosion;
  • are able to spot different types of corrosion;
  • understand the qualities and limitations of stainless steel;
  • are knowledgeable about the conditions for which the materials were designed, and required maintenance.

By Marina Banuta, P.Eng., Ph.D., Manager, Mechanical and Materials team

 

Would you like to find out more?

Marina Banuta is presenting a 3.5-hour training session on the subject. Click on this link (French only) for further information: Training session on stainless steel and corrosion

 

By |2019-01-21T21:24:57+00:00October 24th, 2018|News|0 Comments