Many businesses are aware of the costs corrosion can cause to a business, from corrosion repair bills to loss of income due to closures for safety reasons.
Corrosion issues, as well as general wear and tear even caused the closure of the historic Tower Bridge, used by 40,000 people and 21,000 vehicles every single day.
Metal corrosion, or oxidation, is where metals are converted into a chemically stable form, which creates iron oxide (rust) as a byproduct. This gradually destroys the structural stability of the metal and eventually leads to failure and its sometimes extremely damaging consequence.
Whilst there are some special cases, there are typically three primary ways corrosion happens outside of a laboratory.
Probably the most well-known cause of oxidation; if bare metals are exposed to rainfall, strong winds and in some cases extreme sunlight, the metal quickly begins to oxidise.
This can be prevented through the use of barriers, either by shading metal support structures away from the sun or through the use of protective paints and coatings.
Different areas are better or indeed far worse for metals than others. If a metal structure is built on a coastline, for example, there is a greater amount of humidity, moisture and salty water that the metal will be exposed to.
Saltwater is more conductive than pure water, which causes the oxidation process to accelerate, which is part of the reason why sunken metal ships rust very quickly.
Very cold and very warm climates also speed up the corrosion process, albeit for slightly different reasons.
Ultimately, the biggest man-made cause of corrosion is simple neglect. If tools, objects and implements are not taken care of or get dirty, they can corrode faster than you may initially think.