1121Cost of Corrosion

Records of corrosion failures date back well over 200 years, although at the time no assessments were made of the costs of such failures. This is of no surprise as much of the cost of corrosion relates to indirect or hidden costs, for example, general maintenance, loss of containment of product, pollution remediation, loss of production, and endangerment of life. Surveys have been conducted [1, 2] that identify the cost of corrosion for an industrialized nation to be close to 4% of gross national product (GNP). It is interesting to note that in the report by Hoar only 8% of the total corrosion costs was attributed to the oil and chemical industry, in comparison to 42% attributed to the power industry. To put some meaning on this figure, approximately 1 penny out of every pound (2 cents out of every dollar) is used to replace corroded metals. In terms of the quantity of iron produced worldwide, 30% is used simply to replace corroded iron [3].

More recent surveys are now awaiting publication. However, it would appear that new estimates of the cost of corrosion remain around 4% GNP. This is a sobering thought given that the fundamentals of corrosion and its prevention are now well understood. Such facts may well reflect society's view of corrosion, being that of an "unavoidable feature of life." However, a more realistic appraisal of society's failure to reduce the cost of corrosion lies in the subject's "interdisciplinary" nature, and corrosion is often therefore not treated as a mainstream subject.

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