Rust

Rust

his topic covers the common process of metal corrosion. Although we nomally encounter corrosion as the rusting of iron and iron based metals (such as steel), most metals corrode.
Rust is seen as a problem, but not all corrosion is undesirable. The green coating (called a patina) that covers the Statue of Liberty in New York is the corrosion product of the copper metal that the staue is constructed from.

After completing this topic, you will understand the situations and environments that make metals corrode, and what actually happens during corrosion. By mastering this, you will be able to understand why some situations accelerate corrosion, and some slow it down. You will also be able to predict whether metals will corrode given certain conditions, and how to protect metals from corrosion.

The topic consists or four experiments, which you access using the navigation bar above. These experiments are designed so that you can perform them at home. If you are going to perform the experiments yourself, do not look at the results pages yet. Print out the instruction page of each experiment, and follow the instructions. Return to this site after completing your experiments to check your results with ours and read the explanations.

If you are not experimenting yourself, the most effective way to read this topic is to step through each of the four experiments, understand the methods used, then look at the results to see what happened during the experiment. Study the photographs of “before and after” in each experiment, and begin thinking about why corrosion activity has or has not taken place.

After familiarising youself with the experiments, you can read the explanations. We start the explanations simply on pages 1 and 2. These pages cover the basics of corrosion and try to explain what has happened in our experiments (avoiding complicated scientific terms).

Pages 3 and onward explain the details of exactly why actions and reactions have occurred, using scientific explanations. However, we have written this to be as understandable as possible. If you feel you are more suited to “The Basics”, read pages 1 and 2 first, then give the next pages a try. You might be pleasantly surprised at how much you understand.


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