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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Galvanic Corrosion - Lesson's from Life's Workbench

In the last few months, I've been spending a lot of time reading for my aircraft maintenance class.  I've been through my General text, and I'm halfway through my Electricity book.

These two books are well worn from reading. 
Naturally, that takes away from my time working on things like Inventor and Fusion 360.  So I thought to myself, why not share a few of the lessons from my studies?  It'll help me study, and maybe help out someone else who's trying to learn themselves.

Consider it paying forward!  So every Wednesday, I intend to post a tip on a little something I've learned about design in my studies.

Without further delay, here's a lesson that had faded into the archives of my mind, only to be relearned.

A Life Lesson on Galvanic Corrosion

When two different metals are attached to each other, there can be an electrical potential between the two metals.  One metal will act as an anode, the other will act as a cathode.  If an electrolyte, such as water is added, a chemical reaction known as galvanic (or dissimilar metal) corrosion will occur.

When that happens the anodic material will be eaten away by the cathodic material.  For my tests, I remembered it as the "cat" the one that does the eating.

Galvanic Corrosion between Copper (Cathode) and Iron (Anode)
By Ricardo Maçãs - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17645877
Galvanic corrosion can be mitigated by isolating the two materials from each other.  Another solution is to use materials that have similar galvanic potential.  Several charts can be found in textbooks and on the web.  Here's a basic one from Wikipedia.

Just remember to keep the two materials as close as possible!

Yet one more is to attach a third, more anodic material to the assembly.  This sacrificial material will corrode away first, saving the other two.   You can see some good pictures of sacrificial anodes on a ship hull here.

No matter which method is chosen, designing for corrosion is something that can make a difference between a product having a long life, or a painfully short one.

I hope this first little tip is one that helps you out! I'm hoping to post some more soon!



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