Corrosion is a natural, yet destructive, process that occurs when metals deteriorate due to chemical reactions with their environment. This process not only affects metal structures but also extends to concrete and water systems, leading to significant infrastructural damage and financial loss. In concrete, corrosion primarily targets the reinforcing steel bars, causing structural weakening. In water systems, it degrades pipes and equipment, compromising water quality and system efficiency. Corrosion inhibitors play a crucial role in mitigating these effects, ensuring the longevity and safety of infrastructure.

Corrosion Inhibitors in Concrete

What is Concrete Corrosion?

Concrete corrosion primarily refers to the deterioration of reinforcing steel bars embedded within concrete. When these steel bars corrode, they expand, causing the surrounding concrete to crack and spall. This not only weakens the structural integrity of the concrete but also exposes more steel to the environment, accelerating the corrosion process.

Common Factors Contributing to Concrete Corrosion

Chloride Ions: Chlorides, commonly found in de-icing salts and marine environments, penetrate concrete and reach the steel reinforcement, leading to corrosion.
Carbonation: Carbon dioxide from the atmosphere reacts with the calcium hydroxide in concrete to form calcium carbonate, lowering the pH and reducing the passivation layer on the steel, making it susceptible to corrosion.
Moisture: Water facilitates the electrochemical reactions that lead to corrosion, making high humidity and frequent wetting conditions conducive to concrete corrosion.
Cracks: Physical cracks in concrete allow easy ingress of water, chlorides, and other corrosive agents to the steel reinforcement.

Types of Corrosion Inhibitors for Concrete

Anodic Inhibitors

Anodic inhibitors, or passivators, work by forming a protective oxide film on the anodic sites of the metal surface. This film reduces the anodic dissolution of iron. Common anodic inhibitors used in concrete include:
Chromates: Effective but environmentally hazardous.
Nitrites: Widely used due to their effectiveness and relatively lower environmental impact.

Cathodic Inhibitors

Cathodic inhibitors reduce the corrosion rate by decreasing the cathodic reaction rate. They often work by precipitating on the cathodic areas of the metal surface, blocking the access of corrosive agents. Examples include:
Zinc Salts: Commonly used due to their effectiveness in a variety of environments.
Polyphosphates: Often used in combination with other inhibitors.

Organic Inhibitors

Organic inhibitors adsorb onto the metal surface, creating a hydrophobic film that protects against corrosion. Benefits include ease of application and effectiveness in various environments. Common types include:
Amines: Widely used due to their effectiveness and low cost.
Azoles: Effective particularly in environments with high levels of chlorides.

Inorganic Inhibitors

Inorganic inhibitors form passive films on the metal surface, preventing corrosive agents from reaching the steel. Popular inorganic inhibitors include:
Molybdates: Effective and environmentally friendly.
Phosphates: Commonly used in various industrial applications.

How Corrosion Inhibitors Work in Concrete

Mechanism of Action

Each type of corrosion inhibitor works through different mechanisms:
Anodic Inhibitors: Form a protective oxide film that prevents anodic reactions.
Cathodic Inhibitors: Precipitate on cathodic sites, reducing cathodic reactions.
Organic Inhibitors: Adsorb onto the metal surface, forming a protective hydrophobic barrier.
Inorganic Inhibitors: Form passive films that block corrosive agents.

Application Methods and Best Practices

Surface Application: Inhibitors are applied directly to the concrete surface, allowing them to penetrate and protect the steel reinforcement.
Admixtures: Inhibitors are mixed into the concrete during batching, providing uniform protection throughout the structure.
Injection: Inhibitors are injected into cracks and voids, targeting specific areas where corrosion is likely to occur.

Benefits of Using Corrosion Inhibitors in Concrete

Longevity and Durability

Using corrosion inhibitors significantly extends the lifespan of concrete structures by preventing the corrosion of reinforcing steel. This enhances the durability and reliability of the structures.

Cost Savings in Maintenance and Repairs

Preventing corrosion reduces the need for frequent repairs and maintenance, leading to substantial cost savings over the lifespan of a concrete structure.

Environmental Benefits

By reducing the need for repairs and replacements, corrosion inhibitors contribute to sustainability by minimizing the consumption of materials and energy.

Corrosion Inhibitors in Water Treatment

Understanding Water System Corrosion

Corrosion in water treatment systems leads to the degradation of pipes, tanks, and equipment, compromising the quality of water and the efficiency of the system. This type of corrosion can result in leaks, contamination, and increased operational costs.

Common Causes and Effects of Corrosion in Water Systems

Dissolved Gases: Oxygen and carbon dioxide in water contribute to corrosion by forming acids.
pH Levels: Highly acidic or alkaline water can accelerate corrosion.
Microbial Activity: Certain bacteria can induce corrosion by producing corrosive byproducts.
Water Velocity: High water flow can cause erosion-corrosion, where the protective film is worn away.

Types of Corrosion Inhibitors for Water Treatment

Oxygen Scavengers

Oxygen scavengers remove dissolved oxygen from water, preventing it from participating in corrosive reactions. Common examples include:
Sodium Sulfite: Widely used due to its effectiveness and low cost.
Hydrazine: Effective but highly toxic, requiring careful handling.

pH Adjusters

pH adjusters maintain the water at a neutral or slightly alkaline pH, preventing acid-induced corrosion. Common pH adjusters include:
Lime: Raises pH and precipitates calcium carbonate, which forms a protective layer.
Sodium Hydroxide: Effective in maintaining alkaline conditions.

Film-Forming Inhibitors

Film-forming inhibitors create a protective film on the metal surface, preventing contact with corrosive agents. Examples include:
Polyphosphates: Commonly used in water treatment systems.
Silicates: Effective in forming durable protective films.

Passivating Inhibitors

Passivating inhibitors induce the formation of a passive oxide layer on the metal surface, protecting it from corrosion. Examples include:
Chromates: Effective but environmentally hazardous.
Molybdates: Environmentally friendly and effective in various conditions.

How Corrosion Inhibitors Work in Water Treatment

Detailed Explanation of Mechanisms

Oxygen Scavengers: React with dissolved oxygen to form non-corrosive compounds.
pH Adjusters: Neutralize acids and maintain a protective pH balance.
Film-Forming Inhibitors: Adsorb onto metal surfaces, forming a continuous protective film.
Passivating Inhibitors: Promote the formation of a passive oxide layer, preventing further corrosion.

Integration with Water Treatment Processes

Corrosion inhibitors are integrated into water treatment processes through continuous dosing, batch treatment, or inline systems, ensuring consistent protection.

Benefits of Using Corrosion Inhibitors in Water Treatment

Protecting Infrastructure and Extending the Life of Equipment

Corrosion inhibitors help maintain the integrity of water treatment infrastructure, reducing the frequency of replacements and extending the life of equipment.

Ensuring Water Quality and Safety

By preventing corrosion, inhibitors help maintain the quality and safety of water, preventing contamination from corroded pipes and equipment.

Reducing Operational Costs

Preventing corrosion reduces maintenance and repair costs, leading to significant savings in operational expenses.


Corrosion inhibitors play a vital role in protecting concrete structures and water treatment systems from the detrimental effects of corrosion. By understanding the different types of inhibitors and their mechanisms of action, industries can effectively implement these solutions to enhance the durability and longevity of their assets. Investing in high-quality corrosion inhibitors, like those provided by RawSource, ensures reliable protection and cost savings. Adopting these inhibitors is crucial for maintaining infrastructure integrity and ensuring the safe and efficient operation of water treatment systems.


FAQs on Corrosion Inhibitors in Concrete and Water Treatment

What are corrosion inhibitors and why are they important?

Corrosion inhibitors are chemicals that reduce the rate of corrosion in metals and concrete, extending the lifespan and durability of structures and water systems.

How do corrosion inhibitors work in concrete?

They form protective layers on reinforcing steel, preventing corrosive elements like chlorides and carbon dioxide from causing deterioration.

What types of corrosion inhibitors are used in water treatment?

Common types include oxygen scavengers, pH adjusters, film-forming inhibitors, and passivating inhibitors, each providing specific protective mechanisms.

What are the benefits of using corrosion inhibitors in concrete structures?

They enhance longevity, reduce maintenance costs, and improve environmental sustainability by minimizing the need for frequent repairs.

How do corrosion inhibitors improve water treatment systems?

They protect infrastructure, ensure water quality, and reduce operational costs by preventing corrosion-induced damage to pipes and equipment.

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