Have you ever had a bit of rust form on your vehicle?

If yes, you’ve experienced corrosion!

Rusting is a common term for corrosion of iron and its alloys, such as steel.

Corrosion is a deterioration of a material caused by environmental interactions.

It requires:

  • Moisture
  • A metallic service
  • An Oxidizing agent

Corrosion converts the reactive metal surface into a more stable form – oxide, hydroxide, or sulfide.

Most of the time, corrosion is not wanted.

It has negative effects on metal and can lead to accidents, like structural collapses. Corrosion can cause metal structures to become unsafe.

Even minor amounts of metallic corrosion can require major repairs and maintenance!

The good news is that corrosion can be prevented by using various protection methods, like “sacrificial coatings”. This involves coating the metal with an additional metal type that is more likely to oxidize, thereby “sacrificing” the outer layer first.

The bad news is that corrosion protection methods aren’t always good for our environment because they contain toxic chemicals.

Celina Brule, a recent Trent University graduate from the Forensic Science & Chemistry program, wanted to develop a greener alternative to corrosion protection coatings.

Celina’s research studied a new two-component coating that uses “sol-gel” developed in the lab.

This gel was combined with polypyrole, a conducive polymer, that uses relatively harmless chemicals to help protect the metal. Both components don’t produce a lot of waste and are safe to use.

Unfortunately, Celina’s research didn’t see an improvement to the performance of the coating by adding the conductive polymer, which went against the research hypothesis. A conductive polymer should be able to create an active coating that can fight corrosion by participating in the chemical reactions occurring.

Celina concluded that more research needs to be done to explore the level of conductivity of the polymer used, and perhaps use a different polymer that has a higher conductivity.

Preventing corrosion is important to help reduce the cost of repairs- but achieving it in an environmentally friendly way has proven challenging!

Celina’s research is a step forward in the right direction, as it advances the work being completed on the subject.  She is hopeful that scientists will continue to search for a corrosion prevention method that is good for both the environment and people – without losing performance.

Here is what she has to say about her experience at Trent University:

Trent has connected me to so many wonderful people that I know I will keep in contact with. Trent allows networking with professors from your very first years here, and that is something that sets you up for the future! I am leaving here with so many great memories in and out of the classroom and friends to last a lifetime!