by a conductor, such as salt water, will set up a seriesof corrosion cells and corrosion will commence.All metals and alloys are electrically active and havea specific electrical potential in a given chemical envi-ronment. This potential is commonly referred to as themetal’s “nobility.” [Figure 6-4] The less noble a metalis, the more easily it can be corroded. The metals cho-sen for use in aircraft structures are a studied com- promise with strength, weight, corrosion resistance,workability, and cost balanced against the structure’sneeds.The constituents in an alloy also have specific electri-cal potentials that are generally different from eachother. Exposure of the alloy surface to a conductive,corrosive medium causes the more active metal to
Direct Chemical Attack
Direct chemical attack, or pure chemical corrosion,is an attack resulting from a direct exposure of a baresurface to caustic liquid or gaseous agents. Unlikeelectrochemical attack where the anodic and cathodicchanges may be taking place a measurable distanceapart, the changes in direct chemical attack are occur-ring simultaneously at the same point. The most com-mon agents causing direct chemical attack on aircraftare: (1) spilled battery acid or fumes from batteries;(2) residual flux deposits resulting from inadequatelycleaned, welded, brazed, or soldered joints; and(3) entrapped caustic cleaning solutions. [Figure 6-2]With the introduction of sealed lead-acid batteries andthe use of nickel-cadmium batteries, spilled batteryacid is becoming less of a problem. The use of theseclosed units lessens the hazards of acid spillage and battery fumes.Many types of fluxes used in brazing, soldering, andwelding are corrosive, and they chemically attack themetals or alloys with which they are used. Therefore,it is important to remove residual flux from the metalsurface immediately after the joining operation. Fluxresidues are hygroscopic in nature; that is, they absorbmoisture, and unless carefully removed, tend to causesevere pitting.Caustic cleaning solutions in concentrated formshould be kept tightly capped and as far from aircraftas possible. Some cleaning solutions used in corro-sion removal are, in themselves, potentially corro-sive agents; therefore, particular attention should bedirected toward their complete removal after use onaircraft. Where entrapment of the cleaning solutionis likely to occur, use a noncorrosive cleaning agent,even though it is less efficient.
An electrochemical attack may be likened chemicallyto the electrolytic reaction that takes place in electro- plating, anodizing, or in a dry cell battery. The reac-tion in this corrosive attack requires a medium, usuallywater, which is capable of conducting a tiny currentof electricity. When a metal comes in contact with acorrosive agent and is also connected by a liquid or gaseous path through which electrons may flow, cor-rosion begins as the metal decays by oxidation. [Fig-ure 6-3] During the attack, the quantity of corrosiveagent is reduced and, if not renewed or removed, maycompletely react with the metal, becoming neutral-ized. Different areas of the same metal surface havevarying levels of electrical potential and, if connected
Figure 6-4. The galvanic series of metals and alloys.
+ Corroded End (anodic, or least noble)
MagnesiumMagnesium alloyZincAluminum (1100)CadmiumAluminum 2024-T4Steel or IronCast IronChromium-Iron (active)Ni-Resist Cast IronType 304 Stainless steel (active)Type 316 Stainless steel (active)Lead-Tin solderLeadTinNickel (active)Inconel nickel-chromium alloy (active)Hastelloy Alloy C (active)BrassCopperBronzeCopper-nickel alloyMonel nickel-copper alloy
Silver SolderNickel (passive)Inconel nickel-chromium alloy (passive)
Chromium-Iron (passive)Type 304 Stainless steel (passive)Type 316 Stainless steel (passive)Hastelloy Alloy C (passive)
– Protected End (cathodic, or most noble)