Corrosion Control:

Posted by 20 Oct, 2013

Tweet1.  Introduction The economic development of any region, state or country, depends not only on its natural resources and productive activities, but also on the infrastructure that account for the exploitation, processing and marketing of goods. Irrigation systems, roads, bridges, airports, maritime, land and air transport, school buildings, offices and housing, industrial installations are affected […]

1.  Introduction

The economic development of any region, state or country, depends not only on its natural resources and productive activities, but also on the infrastructure that account for the exploitation, processing and marketing of goods. Irrigation systems, roads, bridges, airports, maritime, land and air transport, school buildings, offices and housing, industrial installations are affected by corrosion and therefore susceptible to deterioration and degradation processes.

Corrosion is a worldwide crucial problem that strongly affects natural and industrial environments. Today, it is generally accepted that corrosion and pollution are interrelated harmful processes since many pollutants accelerate corrosion and corrosion products such as rust, also pollute water bodies. Both are pernicious processes that impair the quality of the environment, the efficiency of the industry and the durability of the infrastructure assets. Therefore, it is essential to develop and apply corrosion engineering control methods and techniques.

Other critical problems, that impact on infrastructure and industry are climate change, global warming and greenhouse emissions, all interrelated phenomena.

This post presents important aspects of corrosion in industrial infrastructure, its causes, impacts, control, protection and prevention methods.

1.  Materials in industry

Metallic materials play a key role in the development of a country and its sustained growth in the context of the global economy. Table 1 shows a classification and the properties of different types of materials used in the industry. During the course of the metal production it undergoes various types of processes: mining of minerals, manufacturing and application and generation of gases, liquids or solids that are released into the environment. In the industrial development, production and use of materials in general, economic cycles are due to take effect that influence the environment (Raichev et al., 2010). The selection of a predominant group of materials depends on the particular industries; they determine to a greater or lesser extent the pattern of consumption of a given product, inducing the market to adapt itself to this new reality. The materials industry follows two general strategies: re‐ search the materials and the available technology recommended for their. Recycled materi‐ als typically require less capital and energy consumption, but need more manpower, for primary processing. Also, the costs of pollution control are lower than those required for primary processing of minerals. Recycling becomes more intense, as economies tend to be more sophisticated, since viable quantities of recycled material must be available for reuse (Garcia, R., et al, 2012, Lopez, G. 2011, Schorr, M., 2010).

Table 1

In the production of a material waste is generated: for example, parts of material that was left aside, through the production steps. There are called effluent, which consist of waste that comes from the processes linked to the technology involved in each step of production, although not necessarily with the main material. Industrial processes for the recovery of ore from the mine to produce a metal, are related to technological development and therefore varies from one country to another, including regulatory laws, financial aspects etc.. Therefore, the environmental impacts vary widely. A low grade or poor quality of the ore, with low metal content, increase the cost of recovery, requiring large amounts of mineral raw material and en‐ ergy invested for the recovery of small amounts of metal. Also important is the feasibility of the mineral that can be worked out e.g., the cost of physical removal of rock, accessibility to the mines, thickness and regularity of the ore zone, and its hardness. Figure 1, shows the material cycle, which involves processes from raw material, extraction from natural sources, processing and conversion into industrial materials, their processing and application, the deterioration rate effects, its mechanical properties, environmental behavior, corrosion, disposal and possible recovery of some of these through the use of recycling methods.

There are many examples of recovery of metals, which could help to describe step by step the various interactions with the environment itself. A mineral submitted to a production process will impact the environment, during four steps: extraction, processing, fabrication and manufacturing, of goods as seen in the cycle of materials. (Figure 1)

Figure 1

In the mineral extraction step, the effluents of N, C, S, NOx, SOx and COx, from machinery and equipment, operation process water, particulate matter and ground movement in landfills.

The processing stage, chemical operations or extractive metallurgy for converting the concentrate into metal apply selected technologies. The effluents are gases such as SO2, NO2 and CO2, water contaminated with heavy metals, and hazard sediments.

In the manufacturing step the material undergoes operations that transform it into rods, bars, sheets; losses are scrap metal, such as cuts, burrs, mill scale, which recycled with no net loss of metal. In the manufacturing stage the metal is formed by stamping, machining and forging.

Focus on good operations management involves control of air emissions, water management and treatment, solid waste disposal and good land use, will greatly help to maintain a good balance with the environment. It is also necessary to analyze the production area to identify what improvements or measures should be implemented. The role of hydrometallurgist is particularly important and so he is responsible for the design of environmentally friendly processes in each of his steps, to promote sustainable production.

2.1 Processes of materials biodeterioration in industrial systems

In addition to the common processes of deterioration of materials by chemical reactions and mechanical fracture, there are others who are concerned with the participation of various types of microorganisms that adhere in colonies or develop on their surfaces.

Biocorrosion and biodeterioration of metallic materials and nonmetallic materials are two important processes that cause serious problems to the infrastructure of various industrial systems. Generally, microorganisms do not deteriorate or corrode metals directly, but modify the conditions of interface material / environment and surroundings, favoring the degradation of these materials in such a way that induce or influence the development process.

Biofouling is a common term that indicates the presence of microbiological growth on the surfaces of structures built of different materials favoring the formation of biofilms with the colonies of various types of microorganisms.

In the case of metal, biocorrosion occurs due to corrosion electrochemical processes and bio‐ logical agents due to the action of microorganisms and / or bacteria present in the system. The knowledge of these biological processes and their effects is necessary in order to establish preventive measures and control measures in industrial systems.

An industrial plant containing several biocorrosion environments is a potential risk:

In a heat exchangers system, usually dust accumulates biological waste; biocorrosion could occur, leading to corrosion film formation on walls surface. Therefore, it will be energy loss by increasing the resistance to fluid flow and heat transfer. Loss by evaporation of water favors the increase of the concentration of nutrients, the residence time, the water temperature and the surface / volume ratio, which leads to higher rate of microbial growth (Stoytcheva et al., 2010, Carrillo M. et al., 2010).

Until the early 80′s of the twentieth century, we used mixtures of anodic and cathodic inhibitors, such as chromium, zinc and phosphates, to lessen the effects of corrosion in water systems. In some cases we added a polymer, as is still done to date, to avoid or eliminate the problems of fouling on the metal walls. On the other hand, to prevent microbiological growth, we added biocides such as chlorine and quaternary ammonium compounds under acidic conditions.

In the early 90′s, the strategies for industrial water treatment changed because of pressure from laws for the preservation of the environment. Chromates and acid pH values are replaced by the use of organic phosphonates as corrosion inhibitors, while for the control of fouling polycarboxylate type polymers are used. However, this change brought about an increase in the amount of suspended solids, a greater number and variety of microorganisms and therefore a greater amount of inorganic deposits on the heat exchangers walls.

2.2. Biodeterioration of metallic and nonmetallic materials

The metal nature has an effect on the distribution and development of microbial films on its surface. These films influence on the wear and corrosion of the metal substrate. The lack of homogeneity in the biofilm is a precursor of differential aeration processes with formation of differential cell concentration, for example, stainless steels (SS) and nickel-copper (Ni-Cu) alloys in seawater. The oxides passive films or hydrated hydroxides (corrosion products) are a good place for the establishment and growth of bacteria, especially when these products are at a physiological pH values (pH ≈ 7.4)

  • Carbon Steel (CS)

CS are very active metals in aggressive media, such as seawater. In this case, the action of microorganisms involves the dissolution of films of corrosion products, by processes of oxidation and reduction. This creates new metal active areas, exposed to the aggressive medium and suffers corrosion processes. In the case of sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB), the species generated by their metabolism (sulfides) are corrosive to the metal. Figure 2 shows the final state pitting outside a CS pipe, which was affected by microbial growth inside, prompting a process of microbial corrosion with not uniform localized attack.

  • Stainless steel

The presence of chromium and molybdenum as alloying elements, enable passive behavior of stainless steels in different environments. However, the passive surface of these SS provides an ideal location for microbial adhesion and therefore are susceptible to corrosion pit‐ ting, crevice corrosion under stress or in solutions containing chlorides, as sea water.

Figure 2

In marine environments, the generation of peroxides during bacterial metabolism causes an ennoblement of the pitting potential of SS, thus promoting corrosion. Obviously, not all SS have the same behavior, but in general they tend to deteriorated in the presence of colonies of microorganisms.

  • Copper and nickel alloys

Alloys of Cu with Zn, Sn and Al, brasses, bronzes, aluminum bronzes; also the nickel alloys: Monel, Hastelloy, nickel superalloys: Ni-Mo, Ni-Cr-Mo, Ni-Cr-Fe- Mo; the traditional nickel alloys: Ni-Cr-Fe, Ni-Fe-Cr, Fe-Ni-Cr-Mo), and the Cu-ni alloys CuNi\70/30, CuNi\90/10, have shown great corrosion resistance in different environments, so they have found a wide use in different industries and environments. However, despite these skills, there are reports that these alloys are colonized by bacteria after several months of exposure in seawater (Acuña, N. et al., 2004).

  • Aluminum and its alloys

Al is an active metal which is passivated rapidly in some neutral and acid media, thus offer‐ ing a good resistance to corrosion. Al alloys with copper, magnesium and zinc, are widely used in the aviation industry. However, there have been cases of biocorrosion on fuel tanks of jet aircraft made of Al alloys by microbial contaminants in turbo combustibles. The presence of water (moisture), even in minimal amounts, allows growth of microorganisms (typically fungi), when these are able to utilize hydrocarbons as a carbon source.

  • Titanium

Ti is considered as the most resistant metal to biocorrosion, according to the results of tests carried in different conditions, due to its passive behavior that is reinforced in the presence of oxidizing agents. This is the reason why Ti is the material of choice, for example, for the manufacture of tubes in cooling systems that use seawater.

  • Nonmetallic materials

Non-metallic materials such as fiberglass reinforced polyester (FGRP), concrete and wood, are also affected by biodeterioration processes in the presence of microorganisms

In the case of FGRP, bacteria and algae are able to use the polyester matrix as a carbon source, consuming and considerably reducing the mechanical strength of composite material, ultimately causing its failure. This is easily observable in screens of this material in cool‐ ing towers or tanks containing fresh water or salt water. Wood suffers biodeterioration by the presence of fungi in moist environments that promote the delignification of this material (Valdez B., et al., 1996, 1999, 2008).

2.2. Facing the problems of biodeteriorationThe inevitable presence of microorganisms in the feed water causes a sequence of biofouling, biocorrosion and biodeterioration of the materials component of the structures. This sequence depends on the degree of microbial contamination and the system operating characteristics.

The most common methods of controlling these problems involve the application of continuous or metered biocides such as chlorine. Currently, we use substances more compatible with the environment, since the use of chlorine is limited to certain concentrations. Such is the case of ozone, which is also ascribed with passivating effects on certain metals and alloys commonly applied in industry, and also in antifouling action.

In order to tackle a biodeterioration problem it is required a prior analysis of the problem, to know when conditions are suitable for the development of this process. In industrial systems we need to know some parameters: temperature, pH, nutrients; carbon, phosphorus, nitrogen, sulfate ion levels and flow rates. The places where we find biodeterioration are: biofouling deposits, under any deposit, zones of localized metal corrosion. to check their presence it is necessary to utilize sampling techniques, isolation and identification of micro‐ organisms. It is interesting to note that there are commercial devices for in situ measurements that are practical and useful for the plant engineer.

 1.  Corrosion in the electronics industry

Corrosion of device components, manufactured by the electronics industry, is a problem that has occurred during a long time. Often, especially corrosion of one or more of the metallic ele‐ ments of an electronic component is the primary cause of failure in various electronic equip‐ ments. The high density of components required to reduce the size of electronic equipment, also for a better signal processing, leads to the generation of enclosed corrosion between thin metal sections. Furthermore, when electronic devices are in more severe environments such as tropical, subtropical, contaminated deserts, etc., they have high failure rates. Problems, due to the aggressiveness of the medium in electronic equipment for military use, have also occurred in aircraft and submarine guidance systems. Another common problem is corrosion damage suffered by components music players, when exposed to humid environments contaminated with chlorides, for example, during transport by ship, from the manufacture location to the consumer place. Thin layers of corrosion products on the surface of the metal component change their electrical characteristics: resistance, capacity and lead to partial or total failure of the electronic system. There are reported cases where small amounts of moisture have caused corrosion in tablets with printed circuits, nichrome resistors, fittings, electrical connectors and a wide range of components, and micro-electronic components, which have been coated with metallic films (Valdez B. et al., 2006, G. Lopez et. al., 2007)

Corrosion of metal components in the electronics industry may occur at different stages: during manufacture, storage, shipping and service. The main factors in the onset of corrosion and subsequent development are moisture and corrosive pollutants, such as chlorides, fluorides, sulfides and nitrogen compounds, organic solvent vapors, emanating from the resins used as label, or coatings formed during the curing process and packaging of microcircuits.

The sources providing aggressive pollutants are diverse, from flux residues used for welding processes, waste and vapors from electrolytic baths, arising volatile organic adhesives, plastics and acidification of their environment. Assays in artificial atmosphere, which simulates an in‐ door environment of an electronic plant have shown that the surface of the silver undergoes browning or tarnishing and the formation of dendrite whiskers due to corrosion (Figure 3).

The elemental chemical analysis of the surface (EDX – Scattered Electron Spectroscopy and XRD – X-rays) shows that the corrosion product formed on the silver surface is silver sulfide (Ag2S), due to the action of pollutant gases such as SO2 and H2S present in a humid environment (Figure 4). Moreover, the micrograph of the silver surface (SEM) shows a dendritic growth of corrosion products, characteristic for silver components.

The design of electronics equipment requires a great variety of different metals, due to their different physical and electrical features. Metals and alloys used in the electronics industry are:

  • Gold (Au) coating and / or foil in electrical connectors, printed circuits, hybrid and miniature circuits.;
  • Silver (Ag) for protective coating in contact relays, cables, EMI gaskets, etc..;
  • Magnesium (Mg) alloys for radar antenna dishes and light structures, chassis brackets, etc..;
  • Iron (Fe), steel and ferroalloys for guide components, magnetic shielding, magnetic coatings memory disks, processors, certain structures, etc..;
  • Aluminum (Al) alloys for armor equipment, chassis, mounting frames, brackets, trusses, etc..;
  • Copper and its alloys for cables, tablets printed circuit terminals, nuts and bolts, RF pack‐ aging, etc..;
  • Cadmium (Cd) for sacrificial protective coating on iron and safe electrical connectors;
  • Nickel (Ni) coating for layers such as barrier between copper and gold electrical contacts, corrosion protection, electromagnetic interference applications and compatibility of dis‐ similar material joints;
  • Tin (Sn) coating for corrosion protection of welding; for compatibility between dissimilar metals, electrical connectors, RF shielding, filters, automatic switching mechanisms;
  • Welding and weld coatings for binding, weldability, and corrosion protection.


Figure 3

Many of these metals are in contact with each other, so that in the presence of moisture, galvanic corrosion / bimetallic corrosion occurs. When using similar metals, due to design the following requirements must be taken into account.

  • Designing the contact of different metals such that the area of the more noble cathodic metal should be appreciably smaller than the area of the more active anodic metal. The area of the cathode can be decreased by applying paint or coating.
  • Coating the contact area of a metal with a compatible metal.
  • Interpose between dissimilar metals in a metal compatible packaging.
  • Sealing interfaces to prevent ingress of moisture.
  • Set the electronic device in a hermetically sealed arrangement.

Other corrosion problems can occur due to the characteristics of electronic components such as electromagnetic interference, electromagnetic pulse, flux residues, finishes and materials component tips, organic products that are used for various purposes and emitting gases during curing, whiskers, embrittlement inter-metallic electrical contacts.

Metal components may corrode during manufacture and storage prior to assembly, needing protection against corrosion. In plants and warehouses, air conditioning systems must operate efficiently, removing moisture and suspended particulate matter. Filters and traps should be cleaned and replaced regularly. For closed containers, we recommend the installation of dryers with visual indicators, and the use of volatile vapor phase corrosion inhibitors. In the case of sealed black boxes, the temperature inside these drops should never be below the dew point (Veleva L. et al., 2008, Vargas L. et al., 2009, Lopez G. et al., 2010).

Figure 4

1.  Corrosion in water

Abundant water sources are essential to a country’s industrial development. Large quantities of this precious liquid are required for cooling products, machinery and equipment, to feed boilers, meet health needs and provide drinking water to humans. Estimates of water consumption for each country are different and depend on the degree of industrial development thereof. In first world countries like the United States, these intakes are as high as several hundred billion liters per day. These countries have implemented water reuse systems with certain efficiency due to the application of appropriate treatment for purification. Water, a natural electrolyte is an aggressive environment for many metals / alloys, so that they may suffer from corrosion, whose nature is electrochemical.

As raw water or fresh water we mean natural water from direct sources such as rivers, lakes, wells or springs. Water has several unique properties and one of these is its ability to dis‐ solve to some degree the substances found in the earth’s crust and atmosphere allowing the water to contain a certain amount of impurities, which causes problems of scale deposition on the metal surface, e.g. in pipelines, boiler tubes and all kinds of surfaces that are in con‐ tact with water (Valdez, B. et al., 1999, 2010).

Oxygen is the main gas dissolved in water, it is also responsible for the costly replacement of piping and equipment due to its corrosive attack on metals in contact with dissolved oxygen (DO). The origin of all sources of water is the moisture that has evaporated from the land masses and oceans, then precipitated from the atmosphere. Depending on weather conditions, water may fall as rain, snow, dew, or hail. Falling water comes into contact with gas‐ es and particulate matter in the form of dust, smoke and industrial fumes and volcanic emissions present in the atmosphere.

The concentrations of several substances in water in dissolved, colloidal or suspended form are low but vary considerably. A water hardness value greater than 400 parts per million (ppm) of calcium carbonate, for example, is sometimes tolerated in the public supply, but 1 ppm of dissolved iron should be unacceptable. In treated water for high pressure boiler or where radiation effects are important, as in nuclear reactors, impurities are measured in very small amounts such as parts per billion (ppb).

In the case of drinking water the main concern are detailed physicochemical analysis, to find contamination, and biological assays to detect bacterial load. For industrial water supplies it is of interest the analysis of minerals in particular salts. The main constituents of water are classified as follows:

  • Dissolved gases: oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, ammonia and sulfide gases;
  • Minerals: calcium, sodium (chloride, sulfate, nitrate, bicarbonate, etc.), Salts of heavy metals and silica;
  • Organic matter: plant and animal matter, oil, agricultural waste, household and synthetic detergents;
  • Microbiological organisms: include various types of algae, slime forming bacteria and fungi.

The pH of natural waters typically lies within the range of 4.5 to 8.5; at higher pH values, there is the possibility that the corrosion of steel can be suppressed by the metal passivation. For example, Cu is greatly affected by the pH value in acidic water and undergoes a slight corrosion in water releasing small amounts of Cu in the form of ions, so that it’s corroded surface because green stained clothing and sanitary ware. Moreover, deposition of the Cu ions on surfaces of aluminum or galvanized zinc corrosion cells leads to new bimetallic con‐ tact, which cause severe corrosion in metals.

The mineral water saturation produces a greater possibility of fouling on the metal walls, due to the ease with which the insoluble salts (carbonates) can be precipitated. To control this effect it is necessary to know and use the Saturation Indices. Water saturation refers to the solubility product of a compound and is defined as the ratio of the ion activity and the solubility product. For example, water is saturated with calcium carbonate when it is no more possible to dissolve the salt in water and then it begins to precipitate as scale. In fact, it is called supersaturated when carbonate precipitation occurs on standing the solution. The most common parameters that must be known to characterize the water corrosivity, be it raw or treated, for operation in an industrial facility are shown in Table 2.

Table 2

There six formulas to calculate Saturation Indices and embedding: Langelier index (LSI), Ryznar stability index, Puckorious index of scaling, Larson-Shold index, index of Stiff- Davis and Oddo-Tomson index. There is some controversy and concern for the correlation of these indices with the corrosivity of the waters, particularly regarding the Langelier (LSI).

A LSI saturation index with value “0″ indicates that the water is balanced and will not be fouling, while the positive value indicates that the water may be fouling (Table 3). The negative value of the LSI suggests that water is corrosive and can damage the metal installation, increasing the content of metallic ions in water. While some sectors of the water management industry uses the values of the indices as a measure of the corrosivity of the water. Corrosion specialists are alerted and are very wary of issuing an opinion, or extrapolate the use of indices to measure the corrosivity of the environment.

Table 3

Sometimes the raw water is contaminated with chemicals such as fertilizers and other chemicals coming from agricultural areas (Figure 5).

In these cases, ionic agents such as nitrites, nitrates, etc., in water causes an accelerated process of localized corrosion to many metals and the consequent failure of equipment.

Figure 5

Raw water contaminants can be quite varied, including both heavy metals and organic chemicals, referred to as toxic pollutants. Among the heavy metals may be mentioned arsenic (As), mercury (Hg), cadmium (Cd), lead (Pb), zinc (Zn) and cadmium (Cd), which are sometimes at trace levels, but they tend to accumulate over time, so that priority pollutants are to be treated.
Pesticides, insecticides and plaguicides comprise a long list of compounds, for which we should be concerned: DDT (insecticide), aldrin (an insecticide), chlordane (pesticide), endo‐ sulfan (insecticide), diazinon (insecticide), among others.

Contaminants, such as polycyclic aromatic organic compounds, include what is known as volatile organic compounds such as naphthalene, anthracene and benzopyrene. There are two main sources of these pollutants: petroleum and combustion products found in munici‐ pal effluents. On the other hand, there are polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs, which are mainly used in transformers for the electrical industry, heavy machinery and hydraulic equipment. This class of chemicals is extremely persistent in the environment and affects human health.

From the viewpoint of corrosion, these contaminants which are present even at low concentrations or trace in the raw water, favor the corrosivity the metals which are in contact with. The combination of the corrosive effects of these contaminants together with the oxidation by oxygen, minerals and other impurities, leads to consider raw water as a natural means capable of generating corrosion of metals. It is recommended at least, to carry out a process of treating raw water, to reduce significantly the hardness and remove suspended solids, which will help greatly in preventing subsequent problems of corrosion and fouling on metal surfaces, curbing economic losses and maintaining the industrial process in good operating condition.

4.1. Corrosion in potable water systems

Corrosion is a complex phenomenon that arises as a result of the interaction between water and the surface of metallic pipes or the equipment of storage and handling. The process is invariably a combination of oxidation and reduction, as already described in previous chapters. In drinking water, it should be noted that the corrosion products which are partially soluble in water in ionic form are toxic at certain concentrations, e.g. copper and lead. The existence of high concentrations of lead in water carried by copper tubing, indicate that the source of lead may be tin-lead solder at the junctions of the copper pipes. The consumption of domestic water contaminated with toxic metal ions (Pb+2, Cu+2, Zn+2, Cr+3), gives rise to acute chronic health problems. The regulations have set the following limits allowable concentration in drinking water: Cr (0.05 ppm), Cu (0.01 ppm), Pb (0.05 ppm) and Zn (5 ppm). These regulations are made in order to protect the public user and consumer of drinking water and are continuously striving for a reduction in the maximum allowable limits. Some concentrations reach zero as is the case of Pb in the United States due to the concerns Pb about poisoning of children. Still, many sources such as wells and springs are outside the control of law and toxic substances, bacteria and pathogens. Damage caused by corrosion of household plumbing may be accompanied by unpleasant aesthetic problems such as soiled clothing, unpleasant taste, stains and deposits in the toilets, floors of bathrooms, tubs and showers. To prevent corrosion of pipes, we recommend the use of PVC pipes for drinking water, replacing the metal, as a preventive measure.

Corrosion can occur anywhere on the pipes that carry drinking water, mainly at sites of con‐ tact between two dissimilar metals, thus forming a corrosion cell. In general, the metals will corrode to a greater or lesser degree in water, depending on the nature of the metal, on the ionic composition of water and its pH. Waters high in dissolved salts (water hardness), favor the formation of scale, more or less adherent, in different parts of the equipment (Figure 6). These deposits may be hard or brittle, sometimes acting as cement, creating a physical barrier between the metal and water, thereby inhibiting corrosion. Calcium carbonate (Ca‐ CO3) is the most common scale; its origin is associated with the presence of carbon dioxide gas (CO2) in water. Sometimes these deposits are filled with pasty or gelatinous hydrated iron oxides or colonies of bacteria (Valdez, B. et al., 1999, 2010).

Figure 6

Usually, groundwater CaCO3 saturated (calcareous soils), due to the presence of dissolved CO2, whose content depends on its content in the air in contact with the water and on temperature. These waters are often much higher in CO2 content, so they may dissolve substantial amounts of calcium carbonate. These waters are at pressures lower than they had in the ground, so CO2 gas lost with consequent supersaturation of carbonates. If conditions are appropriate, the excess of CaCO3 can precipitate as small agglomerates deposited in muddy or hard layers on solid surfaces, forming deposits. An increase in temperature is an important factor and also leads to supersaturation of carbonates, with the consequent possibility of fouling. To a lesser extent fouling can precipitate more soluble Mg carbonates (MgCO3) and Mn (MnCO3), and also oxides / hydroxides, dark colored and gelatinous. Except in very exceptional cases in sulfated water, it is normal to find deposits of gypsum (CaSO4•½ H2O) because their solubility is high, but decreases with increasing temperature. Hard silica scale (SiO2) may appear with oversaturated waters or appear as different silicates (SiO44-) trapped in the carbonate deposits. Generally, the silica appears trapped in other types of scale and it is not chemical precipitation.

Waters often carry considerable amounts of iron (ferrous ion, Fe+2), which may be often precipitated by oxidation upon contact with air as hydrated iron oxide (ferric, Fe+3) but sometimes can be Fe+2 form black sludge, more or less pasty or gelatinous and sometimes very large. The voluminous precipitate occupies the pores, significantly reducing the permeability of the fouling. Sometimes the Fe ions can come from corrosion of the pipe giving rise to simultaneous corrosion and scaling (Figure 6). Common bacteria of the genera Gallionella, Leptothrix Cremothrix are known as Fe bacteria, can give reddish-yellow voluminous precipitate and sticky ferric compounds from ferrous ion, which drastically reduce the permeability of the deposit, in addition to trap other insoluble particles.

The cost for impairment of domestic water systems and the impact on health, involves several consequences: premature corrosion and failure of the pipes and fittings that carry water in a house or building, a low thermal efficiency (up to 70%) of water heaters (boilers), which can cause their premature failure. High levels of metals or oxides, which usually are not properly, treated in drinking water cause red or blue-green deposits and stains in the toilets sinks. In addition to concerns about the aesthetic appearance, a corrosion process can result in the presence of toxic metals in our drinking water. For evaluating water quality and their tendency corrosive and / or fouling, LSI can be used. This analysis must be accompanied by measurements of water pH and conductivity, and corrosion tests applying international standards.

4.1. Anticorrosive treatment of water Corrosion control is complex and requires a basic knowledge of corrosion of the system and water chemistry. Systems can be installed for water pretreatment, using non-conductive connections, reducing the temperature of hot Cu water pipes employed and copper installing PVC or other plastic materials. It is important to note that the corrosiveness of water can be increased by the use of water softeners, aeration mechanisms, increasing the temperature of hot water, water chlorination, and attachment of various metals in the water conduction system. A proper balance between the treatment systems and water quality, can be obtained with acceptable levels of corrosivity. Thus, the lifetime of the materials that make the water system in buildings, public networks, homes and other systems will be longer.

 1.  Soil corrosion

A large part of steel structures: aqueducts, pipelines, oil pipelines, communications wire ropes, fuel storage tanks, water pipes, containers of toxic waste, are buried, in aggressive soils. Large amounts of steel reinforced concrete structures are also buried in various soil types. In the presence of soil moisture it is possible to have humid layer on the metal sur‐ face, whose aggressiveness depends on soil type and degree of pollution (decaying organic matter, bacterial flora, etc.). Thus, the soil can form on the metal surface an electrolyte complex with varying degrees of aggressiveness, a necessary element for the development of an underground electrochemical corrosion. The corrosion process of buried structures is extremely variable and can occur in a very fast, but insignificant rate, so that pipes in the soil can have perforations, presenting localized corrosion attack or uniform.

Metal structures are buried depending on their functionality and security. Most often they traverse large tracts of land, being exposed to soils with different degrees of aggressiveness exposed to air under atmospheric conditions (Figure 7).

Figure 7

When pipes or tanks are damaged by corrosion, the formation of macro-and micro-cracks can lead to leaks of contained products or fluids transported, causing problems of environmental pollution, accidents and explosions, which can end in loss of life and property (Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, 1992). In the case of pipes used to carry and distribute water, a leak may cause loss of this vital liquid, so necessary for the development of society in general and especially important in regions where water is scarce, so the leakage through aqueducts pipes should be avoided. An important tool needed to prevent the most serious events, is the knowledge of the specific soil and its influence on the corrosion of metal structures.

 5.1. Types of soils and their mineralogy

A natural soil contains various components, such as sand, clay, silt, peat and also organic matter and organisms, gas, mineral particles and moisture. The soils are usually named and classified according to the predominant size range of individual inorganic constituent particles. For example, sandy soil particles (0.02 – 2 mm) are classified as fine sand (0.02 – 0.2 mm) or thick (0.20 -2.00 mm). Silt particles (0.002 to 0.02 mm) and clay, which have an average diameter 0.002 mm, are classified as colloidal matter. A comparison of the sizes of these typical soils is done in Figure 8.

Currently exists in the U.S. and in over 50 countries worldwide, a detailed classification for soils, which includes nine classes with 47 subgroups.

The variation in the proportion of the groups of soil with different sizes, determines many of its properties. Fine-textured soils due to high clay content, have amassed particles, so they have less ability to store and transport gases such as oxygen, that any ground-open e.g. sandy soil. The mineralogy of both clay types and their properties, are closely related to the corrosivity of the soil. Silica (SiO2) is the main chemical constituent of soils type clay, loam and silt, also in the presence of Al2O3. Common species in moist soil are dissolved ions H+, Cl-, 2- -SO4   , HCO3 . The chemical composition and mineralogy of the soil determine its corrosive aggressiveness; poorly drained soils (clay, silt and loam) are the most corrosive, while soils with good drainage (gravel and sand type) are less aggressive to metals. Vertically homogeneous soils do not exist, so it is convenient to consider the non-uniformity of ground, formed of different earth layers. To understand the corrosion behavior of a buried metal is very important to have information about the soil profile (cross section of soil layers). The physicochemical and biological nature of soil, corrosive aggressiveness and dynamic interactions with the environment, distinguishes the ground like a very complex environment and different from many others. Climate changes of solar radiation, air temperature and relative humidity, amount of rainfall and soil moisture are important factors in corrosion. Wind, mechanical action of natural forces, chemical and biological factors, human manipulation can alter soil properties, which directly affects the rate of corrosion of metals buried in the ground. Conditions may vary from atmospheric corrosion, complete immersion of the metal, depending on the degree of compactness of the soil (existence of capillaries and pores) and moisture content. Thus the variation in soil composition and structure can create different corrosion environments, resulting in different behavior of the metal and oxygen concentrations at the metal / soil interface.

Figure 8

Two conditions are necessary to initiate corrosion of metal in soil: water (moisture, ionic conductor) and oxygen content. After startup, a variety of variables can affect the corrosion process, mentioned above, and among them of importance are the relative acidity or alkalinity of the soil (pH), also the content and type of dissolved salts.

Mainly three types of water provide moisture to the soil: groundwater (from several meters to hundreds below the surface), gravitational (rain, snow, flood and irrigation) and capillary (detained in the pores and capillary spaces in the soil particles type clay and silt). The mois‐ ture content in soils can be determined according to the methodology of ASTM D 2216 (“Method for Laboratory Determination of Water (Moisture) Content of Soil and Rock by Mass”), while its permeability and moisture retention can be measured the methods descri‐ bed in ASTM D2434 and D2980. The presence of moisture in soils with a good conductivity (presence of dissolved salts), is an indication for high ion content and possible strong corrosive attack.

The main factors that determine the corrosive aggressiveness of the soil are moisture, rela‐ tive acidity (pH), ionic composition, electrical resistance, microbiological activity.

5.1. Corrosion control of buried metals

Given the electrochemical nature of corrosion of buried metals and specific soils, this can be controlled through the application of electrochemical techniques of control, such as cathodic protection. This method has been universally adopted and is appropriate to protect buried metallic structures. For an effective system of protection and cheaper maintenance, pipelines must be pre-coated, using different types of coatings, such as coal tar, epoxies, etc. This helps reduce the area of bare metal in direct contact with the ground, lowering the demand for protection during the corrosion process. The purpose of indirect inspection is to identify the locations of faulty coatings, cathodic protection and electrical Insufficient shorts (close- interval, on/off Potential surveys, electromagnetic surveys of attenuation current, alternating current voltage gradient surveys, etc..), interference current, geological surveys, and other anomalies along the pipeline.

 1.  Corrosion under thermal insulation

One of the most common corrosion problems in pipes, ducts, tanks, preheaters, boilers and other metal structures, insulated heat exchange systems, is the wear and corrosion occurring on metal (steel, galvanized steel, Al, SS, etc.), below a deposit or in its immediate neighbor‐ hood. This corrosion is known as corrosion under deposit. The deposit may be formed by metal corrosion products and / or different types of coating applied for protection. For ex‐ ample, in the case of a calcareous deposit, formed in the walls of galvanized steel pipes which carry water with a high degree of hardness (dissolved salts), it might develop corro‐ sion under deposit. These shells may be porous, calcareous deposit and / or partially detach‐ ed from the metal surface, so that direct contact between metal, water and oxygen (the oxidizing agent in the corrosion process) allows the development of metal corrosion. For this reason the pipes could be damaged severely in these locations up to perforation, while in parts of the installation corrosion might occur at a much lower level.

There is a considerable amount of factors in the design, construction and maintenance, which can be controlled to avoid the effects of deterioration of metal by corrosion under de‐ posit. In general, under these conditions the metal is exposed to frequent cycles of moisture, corrosivity of the aqueous medium or failure in the protective coatings (paint, metal, ce‐ ment, fiberglass, etc.). Figure 9 shows a conductor tube steam in a geothermal power plant, where CS corrosion happened beneath the insulation.

Figure 9

Seven factors can be controlled on the ground, to prevent this type of corrosion: design of equipment, operating temperature, selection of the insulation, protective coatings and paints, physical barriers from the elements, climate and maintenance practices of the facility. Any change in any of these factors may provide the necessary conditions for the corrosion process to take place. The management knowledge of these factors help explain the causes of the onset conditions of corrosion under deposits, and it will guide a better inspection of existing equipment and the best design.

 6.1. Equipment design

The design of pressure vessels, tanks and pipes, generally includes accessories for support, reinforcement and connection to other equipment. Details about the installation of accessories are the responsibility of the engineers or designers, using building codes to ensure reliability of both insulated and non insulated equipment. The protective barrier against the environment surrounding the metal structure in such designs often breaks donor due to an inappropriate insulation, loss of space for the specified thickness of insulation or simply by improper handling during installation of the equipment. The consequence of a rupture or insulation failure means greater flow water ingress to the space between metal and coating hot-cold cycle, generating over time a buildup of corrosive fluid, increasing the likelihood of corrosive damage. Moreover, wet insulation will be inefficient and also cause economic loss‐ es. The solution of this factor is to meet the thickness specifications and spacing, as indicated in the code or equipment-building specifications and characteristics of the coating used.

The operating temperature is important for two reasons: a high temperature favors the wa‐ ter is in contact with the metal for less time, however, also provides a more corrosive environment, causes fast failures of coatings. Usually a team operating in freezing temperatures is protected against corrosion for a considerable life time. However, some peripheral devices, which are coupled to these cold spots and operating at higher temperatures, are ex‐ posed to moist, air and steam, with cycles of condensation in localized areas, which make them more vulnerable to corrosion. For most operating equipment at freezing conditions, the corrosion occurs in areas outside and below the insulation. The temperature range where this type of corrosion occurs is 60 °C to 80 °C; however, there have been failures in zones at temperatures up to 370 °C. Also, in good water-proof insulation, corrosion is likely to occur at points where small cracks or flaws are present, so that water can reach the hot metal and evaporate quickly. On the other hand, in machines where the temperature reach‐ es extreme values, as in the case of distillation towers, it is very likely to occur severe corro‐ sion problems.

 6.2. Selection of insulation

The characteristics of the insulation, which have a greater influence on the corrosion proc‐ esses deposits, are the ability to absorb water and chemical contribution to the aqueous phase. The polyurethane foam insulation is one of the most widely used; however, in cold conditions they promote corrosion due to water absorption present. The coatings of glass fi‐ ber or asbestos can be used in these conditions, always when the capacity of absorbing wa‐ ter do not becomes too high. Corrosion is possible under all these types of coating, such insulation. The selection of insulation requires considering a large group of advantages and disadvantages regarding the installation, operation, cost, and corrosion protection, which is not an easy task. The outside of the insulation is the first protective barrier against the ele‐ ments and this makes it a critical factor, plus it is the only part of the system that can be readily inspected and repaired by a relatively inexpensive process. The durability and ap‐ pearance, melting point fire protection, flame resistance and installation costs are other im‐ portant factors that must be taken into account together with the permeability of the insulation. Usually the maintenance program should include repairs to the range of 2 to 5 years. Obviously the weather is important and corrosion under thermal insulation will more easily in areas where humidity is high. Sometimes conditions of microclimate can be ach‐ ieved through the use of a good design team.

 1.  Corrosion in the automotive industry

One of the most important elements of our daily life, which has great impact on economic activity, is represented by automotive vehicles. These vehicles are used to transport people, animals, grains, food, machinery, medicines, supplies, materials, etc. They range from com‐ pact cars to light trucks, heavy duty, large capacity and size. All operate mostly through the operation of internal combustion engines, which exploit the heat energy generated by this process and convert it in a mechanical force and provide traction to these vehicles.

The amount and type of materials used in the construction of automotive vehicles are diverse, as the component parts. They are usually constructed of carbon steel, fiberglass, aluminum, magnesium, copper, cast iron, glass, various polymers and metal alloys. Also, for aesthetic and protection against corrosion due to environmental factors, most of the body is covered with paint systems, but different metal parts are protected with metallic or inorganic coatings.

Corrosion in a car is a phenomenon with which we are in some way familiar and is perhaps for this reason that we often take precautions to avoid this deterioration problem.

A small family car, with an average weight of 1000 kg, is constructed of about 360 kg of sheet steel, forged steel 250 kg, 140 kg cast iron mainly for the engine block (now many are made of aluminum), 15 kg of copper wires, 35 kg and of plastic 50 kg of glass that usually do not deteriorate, and 60 kg for rubber tires; which wear and tear. The remaining material is for carpets, water and oil. Obviously, that is an advanced technology in the car industry, with automobiles incorporating many non-metallic materials into their structure. However, the problem of corrosion occurs at parts where the operation of the vehicle is compromised. Corrosion happens in many parts of the car (mostly invisible) it is not only undesirable for the problems it causes, but also reduces the vehicle’s resale value and decreases the strength of the structure. To keep the car in good condition and appearance, its high price, it is neces‐ sary to pay attention to the hidden parts of the vehicle.

The main cause of corrosion of the car body is the accumulation of dust in different closed parts, which stays for a long time by absorbing moisture, so that in these areas metal corrosion proceeds, while in the clean and dry external parts it does not occur (Figure 10).

The corrosion problem that occurs in the metal car body has been a serious problem that usually arises most often in coastal environments, contaminated with chlorides and rural areas with high humidity and specific contaminants. Many countries use salt (NaCl, CaCl2 or MgCl2) to keep the roads free of ice; under these conditions these salts, in combination with the dust blown by the car, provide conditions for accelerated corrosion. Therefore, it is recommended as a preventative measure, after a visit on the coast or being on dirty roads, to wash the car with water, and also the tires and the doors, especially their lower parts. In urban environments, the corrosion problem has been reduced due to the new design and application of protective coatings, introduced by major manufacturers in the early nineties of the twentieth century. The areas most affected are fenders, metal and chrome bumpers views which are used in some luxury vehicles as well as areas where water and mud are easily accumulated e.g. auctions of funds windshield and doors (Figure 11).

In regions with high incidence of solar radiation and the presence of abrasive dust, paint vehicles deteriorate rapidly. The hot, humid weather, combined with high levels of SO2 and NOx emissions that come from burning oil, chlorides salt. In the Gulf of Arabia, the blowing sand from the nearby desert, creates a very aggressive environment; statistics reveals that one in seven cars is damaged and due to corrosion the car life is estimated to an average of 8 months, also the car corrosion resistance decreases in the following order: manufactured in Europe, USA and Japan. White paints generally have shown a significantly better corrosion protection than other colors. Initially, corrosion defects appear as a kind of dots and spots of corrosion products formed under the paint and subsequently emerge from the steel sheet, leaving a free entry for moisture and air (oxygen), accelerating the corrosion process; in these cases reddish metal corrosion products.

Figure 10

Figure 11

7.1. Corrosion in the cooling systemThe cooling system of a car combustion engine consists of several components, constructed of a variety of metals: radiators are made of copper or aluminum, bronze and solder couplings with tin water pumps; motors are made of steel, cast iron or aluminum. Most modern automobiles, with iron block engine and aluminum cylinder head, require inhibitor introduced into the cooling water to prevent corrosion in the cooling system. The inhibitor is not antifreeze, although there are in the market solutions which have the combination of inhibitor-antifreeze. The important thing is to use only the inhibitor recommended in the automobile manual and not a mixture of inhibitors, since these may act in different ways and mechanisms. The circulating water flow should work fine without loss outside the system. If the system is dirty, the water should be drain and filling the system with a cleaning solution. It is not recommended to fill the system with hard water, but with soft water, introducing again the inhibitor in the correct concentration. If there exhaust at the water cooling system, every time water is added the inhibitor concentration should be maintained to prevent.

In small cars, it is common for water pumps; constructed mainly of aluminum, to fail due to corrosion, cavitation, erosion and corrosion, making it necessary to replace the pump (Val‐ dez, B. et al., 1995). Accelerated corrosion in these cases is often due to the use of a strong alkaline solution of antifreeze. On the other hand, in heavy duty diesel trucks, the cooling system is filled with tap water or use filters with rich conditioner chromates that can cause the pistons jackets to suffer localized corrosion. After 12 or 15 months, the steel jackets are perforated and the water passes into the cavity through which the piston runs, forcing tocarry out repair operations (Figure 12).

Figure 12

Corrosion causes great economic losses to the transport industry, since it must stop to repair the truck and abandon to provide the service with all the consequences that this entails. Fur‐ thermore, the use of chemical conditioning is now controlled by environmental regulations, so chromates and phosphates are restricted and novel mixtures of corrosion inhibitors have been produced to control the problem of corrosion in automobile cooling systems.

7.1. Corrosion in exhaust pipes and batteries

Exhaust pipes made of SS (0.6 – 0.8 mm thick) have a better resistance to chemical corrosion at high temperatures, which is why we are now using SS in many popular models. This SS resists corrosion much more than conventional CS and thus their long life covers the higher price. An‐ other alternative is to use conventional CS tube, zinc coated or aluminum (Figure 13). These ex‐ haust pipes are less expensive than stainless steel, but less resistant to corrosion.

Figure 13

The acidic environment which is generated on the surface of accumulators supplying the energy necessary for starting the engine, favors conducting corrosion processes in the lead terminals, where the cables are connected by bronze or steel clamps. Thus, this environment and these contact zones predispose cells to a process galvanic corrosion, which gradually deteriorates the contact wires, generating bulky corrosion products. This phenomenon is called sulfation of the contacts due to the sulfuric acid containing the battery, thus forming white sulfates on the corroded metal surface. These products introduce high resistance to current flow and cause failure to the engine ignition system, and impede the battery charge process. This problem has been eliminated in batteries that have airtight seals, or are manufactured with new technologies as well as bases covered with organic coatings that prevent corrosion.

Some years ago it was common for starters to fail, because the moisture or water penetrated into the gear area preventing it sliding motion and causing burning of the electric motor. Currently, new designs avoid contact with moisture and other foreign agents, preventing the occurrence of corrosion problems in these devices. As a preventive measure is recommended to prevent spillage of battery acid, to periodically clean the battery terminals (with a brush of wire or a special instrument), also coat them with petroleum jelly to prevent corrosion in these contact areas. A fat based composition which contains several components: alkaline salts and oxides of lithium, sodium bicarbonate and magnesium oxide are applied to the terminals and the connector. In general, in wet weather, the contacts of the accumulators have a tendency to more accelerated corrosion, thus requiring greater care to disconnect the terminals when not being used.

7.1. Corrosion prevention

To keep the vehicle for a longer time without the appearance of corrosion, it always requires washing with running water and, the use of very soft brush or cloth-like material, with a special detergent (not household detergents, which are very corrosive) and finally wash the vehicle with plenty of water. The floor carpet should be maintained clean and dry. A car should not be left wet in a hot garage, since under these conditions accelerated corrosion takes place since the water does not dry and can condense on the cold parts of the vehicle. In these cases, it is best not to close the garage door or use a roof space, to protect it from rain, and not allow moisture condensation. However, if the vehicle is left unused for a long time in a closed garage, it should be protected from dust, moisture and contaminants.

1.  Corrosion control in thermoelectric plantsElectricity is a key element in ensuring economic growth and social development of a country. Many conventional power plants in recent years are being installed in combined cycle power plants, also called cogeneration. The latter, simultaneously generate electricity and / or mechanical power and useful heat, sometimes using thermal energy sources that are lost in conventional plants.

A power station is a thermoelectric energy conversion system, starting with the chemical energy of fuel that during combustion is converted into heat energy accumulated in the steam. This thermal energy generates mechanical energy from the hot steam, which expands in a turbine, turning on electricity in the generator. In this process of low energy thermal efficiency is lost in the hot gases that escape through the chimney and the cooling steam in the condenser.

Electricity generating plants burn fossil fuels such as coal, fuel oil and natural gas. These fuels containing as minor components sulfur compounds (S), nitrogen (N), vanadium (V) and chloride (Cl-). These are corrosive chemicals attacking the metal infrastructure; and polluting the environment by becoming acid gas emissions, also affecting the health of the population.

The three central equipment of a thermoelectric plant are the boiler, which converts the wa‐ ter into steam, the steam turbine to whom the pressure imparts a rotary motion and the con‐ denser that condenses the vapor released by the turbine and the condensed water is returned to the boiler as feed water. The turbine itself transmits rotary motion to the genera‐ tor of electricity, which will be distributed to industrial, commercial and homes in cities.

Corrosion in steam plant equipment occurs in two parts of the boiler: on the water side and the steam side, with the fire temperature up to 700 ° C, depending on the type, size and ca‐ pacity of the boiler. The boiler feedwater must be treated to eliminate the corrosive components: salts such as chlorides and sulfates dissolved oxygen (DO); silicates and carbonates, producing calcareous scale on the boiler walls, regarded as precursors for the formation of corrosion under deposits. The water is softened by eliminating salts and treated to remove oxygen; the pH is controlled by addition of alkaline phosphate to reach a pH range of 10 to 11, and inhibitors are added to the feedwater to prevent corrosion.

Figure 14

The flue gases and ash solid particles reach temperatures up to 1000 to 1200 °C, impinging on the outer surface of the boiler water tubes and preheater, creating an atmosphere for aggressive chemical corrosion. The damaged tubes lose its thickness generating metal corrosion products; they often are fractured, suffering a stress corrosion due to the combined effects of mechanical stress and corrosion (Figure 14). Since the tubes lose steam and pres‐ sure,  the  operation  of  the  plant  is  interrupted  and  the  tubes  or  its  sections  should  be changed incurring severe economic losses. For example, in the United States has been concluded that the costs of electricity are more affected by corrosion than any other factor, contributing 10% of the cost of energy produced.

A study reveals that in 1991 there were more than 1250 days lost in nuclear plants operating in the United States, due to failure by corrosion, which represented an economic loss of $250.000 per day. Such statistics indicate that the power generation industry needs to obtain a balance between cost and methods for controlling effectively corrosion in their plants. It is sometimes advisable to add additives to the fuel, for example, magnesium oxide which prevent the deposition of the molten salts on the boiler tubes. Corrosion occurs also in the combustion air preheater, by sulphurous gases which react with condense and form sulfuric acid. Metal components of the turbine rotor: disks and blades suffer from corrosion by salts, alkali and solid particles contained in the vapor. In these cases, it is common to observe the phenomena of erosion-corrosion, pitting and stress corrosion fracture; their damage can be ameliorated through a strict quality control of boiler water and steam.

Efficient maintenance and corrosion control in a power plant is based on the following:

  • Operation according to mechanical and thermal regime, indicated by the designer and builder of the plant;
  • Correct treatment of fuel, water and steam;
  • Chemical cleaning of the surfaces in contact with water and steam, using acidic solutions containing corrosion inhibitors, passivating ammoniacal solutions and solutions;
  • Mechanical cleaning of surfaces covered with deposits (deposits), using alkaline solutions and water under pressure;
  • Perform an optimum selection of the materials of construction for the components of the plant, including those suitable as protective coatings.
  • The installation of online monitoring of corrosion in critical plant areas will be one of the most effective actions to control corrosion. In addition, it is recommended same use and document to use corrosion expert system software and materials databases for the analy‐ sis of the materials corrosion behavior.

Corrosion in power plants can be controlled by applying the knowledge, methods, stand‐ ards and materials, based on corrosion engineering and technology.

1.  Corrosion in geothermal environments

The development of alternative energy sources represents one of the most attractive challenges for engineering. There are several types of renewable energies already in operation, such as wind, solar and geothermal. Geothermal environments can lead to aggressive environments, e.g. the geothermal field of “Cerro Prieto”, located in Baja California, Mexico.

The physical and chemical properties of the vapor at “Cerro Prieto” make it an aggressive environment for almost any type of material: metal, plastic, wood, fiberglass or concrete. The typical chemical composition of a geothermal brine, is shown in Table 4. Many engineering materials are present as components of the infrastructure and field equipment, required for the steam separation, purification and posterior operations for the generation of electricity. This entire infrastructure is a costly investment and therefore, failure or stoppage of one of them, means economic losses, regardless of how vital it is to maintain constant production of much-needed electricity.

Figure 15

In the process of the geothermal fluid exploitation, corrosion of metal structures occurs from the wells drilling operation, where the drilling mud used, causes corrosion of pumping and piping equipment. Subsequently, when the wells pipes are in contact with the steam, they can also suffer from corrosion-erosion problems, where the corrosive agent is hydrogen sulfide. Steam separators and the pipes are exposed to problems of fouling and localized corrosion due to the presence of aggressive components such as H2S and chloride ions (Cl-), present in the wells fluid. These agents lead to the deterioration of reinforced concrete foundations supporting steel pipes, or other concrete structures used to separate steam from water and to operate steam silencers. The reinforced concrete deterioration due to steel corrosion in this aggressive environment, and the steam pressure mechanical forces lead to concrete damage with formation of cracks and fractures.

Table 4

In the power plants, the observed corrosion affects components of the steam turbines, condensers and pipelines, and also the cooling towers and concrete structures inside and outside the building that houses the plant. In these cases, the effects of corrosive attack appears in the form of localized corrosion in metal walls and gas piping) or as corrosion fatigue or stress corrosion, caused by cyclic mechanical forces or residual stresses, in turbines and other metal equipment. Table 5 shows a list of equipment and materials used for construction,which are part of the infrastructure of a geothermal power (Valdez, B. et al., 1999, 2008)

Table 5

The combination of an aerated moist environment with the presence of hydrogen sulfide gas (H2S) dissolved in water provides a very aggressive medium (Figure 16), which promotes the corrosion of metals and alloys, such as CS and SS. The presence of dust, from the geothermal field and condensation cycles favor the failure of protective coatings applied to steel, so that developed corrosion leads to constant repairs and maintenance of metal installations: pipes, machinery, cooling towers, vehicles, tools, fences, warehouses, etc.

Cooling towers constructed of wood, steel and fiberglass in the presence of flowing and stagnant water and air currents (induced to complete cooling fans), suffer a serious deterioration of the steel by corrosion and biodeterioration, involving a variety of microorganisms. The timber is subjected to oxygen delignification under the effect of colonies of fungi and algae, as well as fiberglass reinforced polyester screens, which deteriorate due to colonies of aerobic and anaerobic bacteria e.g. sulfate reducers.

Furthermore, carbon steels corrode in the form of delamination due to sulfate reduction processes which induce the oxidation of iron, while the SS nails and screws undergoes localized corrosion, forming pits (Figure 17)

Figure 16

The deterioration by microorganisms capable of living in these conditions is one of the processes that have provided more information to the study of corrosion induced by microorganisms. In “Cerro Prieto”, for example, have been isolated and studied various bacteria capable of growing even at temperatures of 70 ° C under conditions of low nutrient concen‐ trations, while in the geothermal field of “Azufres” bacteria have been isolated to survive at temperatures of 105 °C and pressures of downhole (Figure 18).

Figure 17

Figure 18

1.  Corrosion in the paper industry

Corrosion of the infrastructure used in the pulping and paper industry, is another serious problem for corrosion specialists. The wide experience, gathered from cases of corrosion in the various infrastructure components of the paper industry, has provided an extensive literature on mechanisms, types and control of corrosion in this environment.

In the early 60′s of last century, when the continuous digester process was adopted, the paper industry had limited knowledge about caustic embrittlement. Currently, it is known that the digesters are subjected to caustic levels and temperatures too close to the fracture caustic range where the total relieves of stresses in the material are essential. To elucidate the mechanism of this phenomenon, it was necessary to conduct serious investigations, which subsequently provide solutions to the problem of corrosion and caustic embrittlement. Technology in the paper industry has evolved over the last forty years and in parallel we can talk about the solution of corrosion problems in different parts of its infrastructure. Components with high failure rate due to corrosion are those built of bronze, SS, cast iron. Corrosion occurs in the papermaking machinery, where the white water equipment is subjected to an aggressive environment. The metal surfaces are exposed to immersion in this water; to steam that promotes the formation of cracks, which favor the deposit of pulp and other compounds. CS undergoes rapid uniform corrosion, while the copper alloys and SS (austenitic UNS S30400 L: 18% Cr8% Ni, UNS S31600 L: 16% Cr10% Ni 2% Mo) develop localized pitting corrosion. In the mill bleach plants the pulp equipment has traditionally been made of SS which has good general corrosion resistance and weldability. The use of chlorine gas (Cl2) and oxygen in the bleach plant and pulp bleaching, favors a very aggressive oxidant and SS, as type 317 L (18% Cr14% Ni3.5% Mo). However, in the last 25 years the environment in these plants has become much more corrosive due to the wash systems employed for the paper pulp, which increased the emission of oxidizing and corrosive gas‐ es; so type “317 L” SS is not resistant and has a shorter service life. Many mills in the paper industry have opted for the use of high-alloy SS, nickel (Ni) and titanium (Ti), for better corrosion resistance in these particular environments. In general, SS exposed to corrosive environment of bleach plants are benefited by the share of chromium, nickel and molybdenum as alloying elements, which increase their resistance to the initiation of pitting and crevice corrosion. The addition of nitrogen (N) increases its resistance to pitting corrosion, particularly when it contains molybdenum (Mo). Furthermore, to avoid waste of elements such as carbon (C), where a concentration greater than 0.03%, can cause sensitization at affected by heat areas in the solder, causing the SS to be less resistant to corrosion. Other waste elements, such as phosphorus (P) and sulfur (S) can cause fractures in the hot steel, formed in the metal welding area. The corrosive environment of bleach plants contain residual oxidants such as chlorine (Cl2) and chlorine dioxide (ClO2), these are added to resists the effects of temperature and acidity, maintaining a very aggressive environment.

Corrosion also occurs in the pulping liquor facilities by sulfites, chemical recovery boilers, suction rolls and Kraft pulping liquors. The Kraft process is the method of producing pulp or cellulose paste, to extract the wood fibers, necessary for the manufacture of paper.

The process involves the use of sodium hydroxide (NaOH) and sodium sulfite (Na2SO3) to extract the lignin from wood fibers, using large high pressure digesters. High strength is obtained in the fiber and methods for recovery of chemicals explain the popularity of the Kraft process. The black liquor separated, is concentrated by evaporation and burned in a recovery boiler to generate high pressure steam, which can be used for the plant steam requirements for the production of electricity. The inorganic portion of the liquor is used to regenerate sodium hydroxide and sodium sulfite, necessary for pulping. Corrosion of metals in the facilities used in this process may occur during the acid pickling operation for the removal of carbonate incrustations on the walls and black liquor pipe heaters. It has been found that SS 304 L presents fracture failure and stress corrosion. In the recovery processes of chemical reagents, known as stage re alkalinization, metals can fail due to caustic embrittlement or corrosion-erosion under conditions of turbulent flow. Corrosion also occurs in the equipment used for mechanical pulping, such as stress corrosion cracking, crevice corrosion, cavitation and corrosion-friction.

Author details

B. Valdez1, M. Schorr1, R. Zlatev1, M. Carrillo1, M. Stoytcheva1, L. Alvarez1, A. Eliezer2 and N. Rosas3

1  Instituto de Ingeniería, Departamento de Materiales, Minerales y Corrosión, Universidad Autónoma de Baja California, Mexicali, Baja California, México

2  Sami Shamoon College of Engineering Corrosion Research Center, Ber Sheva, Israel 3 Unversidad Politécnica de Baja California, Mexicali, Baja California, México


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[15] Schorr, M., Valdez, B., Zlatev, R., Stoytheva, M., Santillan, N., Phosphate, Ore., Proc‐ essing, For., Phosphoric, Acid., Production, Classical., And, Novel., Technology, Min‐ eral., Processing, , Extractive, Metallurgy., & Vol, . (2010). (3), 125-129.

[16] Valdez, B., Guillermo Hernandez-Duque, Corrosion control in heavy-duty diesel en‐ gine cooling systems, CORROSION REVIEWS Vol.Nos. 2-4, (1995). , 245-260.

[17] Valdéz, Salas. B., Miguel, Beltrán., Rioseco, L., Rosas, N., Sampedro, J. A., Hernan‐ dez, G., & Quintero, M. Corrosion control in cooling towers of geothermoelectric power plants. Corrosion Reviews, (1996). England., 14, 237-252.

[18] Valdez, B., Rosas, N., Sampedro, J., Quintero, M., Vivero, J., Hernández, G., Corro‐ sion, of., reinforced, concrete., of, the., Rio, Colorado., Tijuana, aqueduct., Materials, Performance., & May, . (1999). USA., 38, 80-82.

[19] Valdez, B., Rosas, N., Sampedro, J., Quintero, M., Vivero, J., Influence, of., elemental, sulphur., on, corrosion., of, carbon., steel, in., geothermal, environments., Corrosion, Reviews., & Vol, . Nos. 3- 4, October (1999). England, 167-180.

[20] Valdez, S. B., Zlatev, R., , K., Schorr, M., , W., Rosas, N., , G., Ts, Dobrev. M., Monev, I., Krastev, Rapid., method, for., corrosion, protection., determination, of. V. C. I., Films-Corrosion, Anti., Methods, , Materials, United., & Kingdom, Vol. Noviembre (2006). (6), 362-366.

[21] Valdez, B., Carrillo, M., Zlatev, R., Stoytcheva, M., Schorr, M., Cobo, J., Perez, T., & Bastidas, J. M. Influence of Actinomyces israelii biofilm on the corrosion behaviour of copper IUD, Anti-Corrosion Methods and Materials, United Kingdom, N0. 2, 55-59, (2008). , 55

[22] Valdez, B., Schorr, M., Quintero, M., Carrillo, M., Zlatev, R., Stoytcheva, M., Ocampo, J., Corrosion, , scaling, at., Cerro, Prieto., Geothermal, Field., Anti-Corrosion, Meth‐ ods., Materials, United., & Kingdom, Vol. N0. 1, (2009). , 28 EOF-34 EOF.

[23] Valdez, B., Schorr, M., Corrosion, Control., in, The., Desalination, Industry., Ad‐ vanced, Materials., & Research, . (2010). Trans. Tech publications, Switzerland, 95, 29-32.

[24] Valdez, B., Schorr, M., Quintero, M., García, R., Rosas, N., The, effect., of, climate., change, on., the, durability., of, engineering., materials, in., the, hydraulic., & infra‐ structure, . An overview. Corrosion Engineering Science and Technology(2010). , 45(1), 34-41.

[25] Valdez, B., Schorr, M., So, A., Eliezer, A., Liquefied, Natural., Gas, Regasification., Plants, Materials., Corrosion, M. A. T. E. R. I. A. L. S. P. E. R. F. O. R. M. A. N. C. E., & Vol, . December (2011). (12), 64-68.

[26] Vargas, O. L., Valdez, S. B., Veleva, M. L., Zlatev, K. R., Schorr, W. M., Terrazas, G. J., Corrosion, of., silver, at., indoor, conditions., of, assembly., processes, in., the, micro‐ electronics., industry-Corrosion, Anti., Methods, , Materials, United., & Kingdom, Vol. N0. 4, (2009). , 218 EOF-225 EOF.

[27] Veleva, L., Valdez, B., López, G., Vargas, L., Flores, J., Atmospheric, Corrosion., of- Electronics, Electro., Metals, in., Urban-Desert, Indoor., & Environment, . Corrosion of Electro-Electronics Metals in Urban-Desert Indoor Environment. Corrosion Engineering Science and Technology(2008). , 43(2), 149-155.

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Electrical Conductivity Testing Applied to the Assessment of Freshly Collected Kielmeyera coriacea Mart. Seeds:

Posted by 4 Jun, 2013

Tweet brings you the latest in conductivity measurement research like the article below.  Please click here for accurate, reliable, conductivity meters. Abstract Assessment of seed vigor has long been an important tool of seed quality control programs. The conductivity test is a promising method for assessment of seed vigor, but proper protocols for its […] brings you the latest in conductivity measurement research like the article below.  Please click here for accurate, reliable, conductivity meters.


Assessment of seed vigor has long been an important tool of seed quality control programs. The conductivity test is a promising method for assessment of seed vigor, but proper protocols for its execution have yet to be established. The objective of this study was to assess the efficiency of electrical conductivity (EC) testing as a means of assessing the viability of freshly collected Kielmeyera Coriacea Mart. seeds. The test was performed on individual seeds rather than in a bulk configuration. Seeds were soaked for different periods (30 min, 90 min, 120 min., 180 min, and 240 min) at a constant temperature of 25°C. Conductivity was then measured with a benchtop EC meter.

1. Introduction

Seeds are the primary factor of the seedling production process, despite their minor contribution to the end cost of each seedling. In order to estimate the success rate of seedling production, it is essential that seed characteristics such as vigor and germinability be known [1].

The importance of knowing the characteristics of Brazilian forest species to safer and more objective management of seedling production cannot be overstated. However, such studies are scarce, particularly in light of the vast number of species with this potential [2]. Given the intensity of anthropogenic pressure and the importance of rehabilitating disrupted or degraded environments, in-depth research of forest species is warranted.

Routine methods used for determination of seed quality and viability include germination testing and the tetrazolium test. Methods such as measurement of soak solution pH, electrical conductivity, and potassium content of leachate, all based on the permeability of the cell membrane system, are increasingly being employed in the assessment of seed vigor, as they are reliable and fast and can thus speed the decision making process.

Electrical conductivity testing, as applied to forest seeds, has yet to be standardized. Studies conducted thus far have focused on assessment of seed soaking times, which may range from 4 to 48 hours. Even at 48 hours, the conductivity test is considered a rapid technique as compared to the germination test, which, despite its status as a widespread and firmly established method, can take anywhere from 30 to 360 days to yield results (depending on species), and is limited by factors such as dormant seeds.

The total concentration of electrolytes leached by seeds during soaking has long been assessed indirectly, mostly through the conductivity test, which takes advantage of the fact that inorganic ions make up a substantial portion of these electrolytes [3–5].

Rapid assessment of seed quality allows for preemptive decision-making during harvest, processing, sale and storage operations, thus optimizing use of financial resources throughout these processes.

K. coriacea Mart. is a species of the Clusiaceae (Guttiferae) family popularly known in Brazil as pau-santo (Portuguese for “holy wood”), due to its properties as a medicinal and melliferous plant and as a source of cork. In traditional Brazilian medicine, the leaves are used as an emollient and antitumor agent, and the resin as a tonic and in the treatment of toothache and various infections. The fruits are used in regional crafts and flower arrangements. Even if the dye is of the leaves and bark. The trunk provides cork [6].

K. coriaceae specimens grow to approximately 4 meters in height. The flowering period extends from January to April and the fruiting period from May to September, and seed collection can take place from September onwards. Leaves are alternate, simple, oval to elliptical, coriaceous, and clustered at the end of the branches, and feature highly visible, pink midribs. A white to off-white latex is secreted in small amounts upon removal of leaves. Flowers are white to pale pink in color, large, fragrant, with many yellow stamens and are borne in short clusters near the apex of the branches. Seedling production requires that seeds be sown shortly after collection.

In the fruit are found 60 to 80 seeds with anemochoric. The seed varies from round to oblong, winged at the ends, light brown color, has integument thin and fragile, with smooth texture, the sizes range from 4.3 to 5.6 cm long, 1.3 to 1.9 cm wide, and 0.2 to 0.5 centimeter thick. The individual weight of the seeds ranges from. 112 to.128 grams. Nursery radicle emission occurred at 7 days and the germination rate was 90%. Germination occurs within 7 to 10 days. The species is slow growing, both in the field and in a nursery setting [7].

The present study sought to assess the applicability of the conductivity test to freshly collected K. coriacea Mart. seeds by determining the optimal soak time for performance of the test and comparing results obtained with this method against those obtained by tetrazolium and germination testing of seeds from the same batch.

2. Materials and Methods

2.1. Seed Collection

Seeds were collected in the cerrado sensu stricto, in SCA (Clean Water Farm), area of study at the University of Brasília (UNB) in August 2010, matrixes marked with the aid of GPS, after the period of physiological maturation of the seeds. The collection of fruits was directly from the tree, with the help of trimmer, then the seeds were processed and stored in paper bags at room temperature in the laboratory.

2.2. Conductivity Test

The development of tests to evaluate the physiological quality of seeds, as well as the standardization of these is essential for the establishment of an efficient quality control [8]. One of the main requirements for the seed vigor refers to obtain reliable results in a relatively short period of time, allowing the speed of decision making especially as regards the operations of collection, processing, and marketing [9]. The literature indicates that rapid tests are most studied early events related to the deterioration of the sequence proposed by Delouche and Baskin [10] as the degradation of cell membranes and reduced activity, and biosynthetic respiratory [9]. The measurement of electrical conductivity through the electrolyte amount released by soaking seeds in water has been applied by the individual method where each seed is a sample or more often, a sample of seed representative of a population (mass method). For this case, the results represent the average conductivity of a group of seeds, may a small amount of dead seeds affect the conductivity of a batch with many high-quality seed generating a read underestimated. To minimize this problem, we recommend choosing the seeds, excluding the damaged seeds.

The electrical conductivity is based on the principle that the deterioration process is the leaching of the cells of seeds soaked in water due to loss of integrity of cellular systems. Thus, low conductivity means a high-quality seed and high conductivity, that is, greater output seed leachate, suggests that less force [11].

The electrical conductivity is not yet widely used in Brazil, its use is restricted to activities related to research (Krzyzanowski et al., 1991). There are common jobs using this test to determine the physiological quality of tree seeds. However, it is a promising vigor test for possible standardization of the methodology, at least within a species. However, it is a promising vigor test for possible standardization of the methodology, at least within a species. However, there are factors which influence the conductivity values as the size, the initial water content, temperature and time of soaking, the number of seeds per sample, and genotype [12].

Five treatments were carried out to test the efficiency of the conductivity test as a means of evaluating the viability of freshly collected K. coriacea Mart. seeds.

Five runs of 20 seeds were tested for each treatment. Seeds were individually placed into containers holding 50 mL of distilled water and left to soak for 30, 90, 120, 180, and 240 minutes in a germination chamber set to a constant temperature of 25°C. The minimum time taken for the soaking of 30 minutes was adopted by the same authors and Amaral and peske [13], Fernandes et al. [14], and Matos [1] who concluded that the period of 30 minutes of soaking is more effective to estimate the germination of the seeds. After each period, the conductivity of the soak solution was immediately tested with a benchtop EC meter precise to +/−1% (Quimis). Readings were expressed as μS·cm−1/g−1 seed [15].

Data thus obtained were subjected to analysis of variance with partitioning into orthogonal polynomials for analysis of the effect of soaking times on electrical conductivity.

2.3. Tetrazolium Test

The tetrazolium test, also known as biochemical test for vitality, is a technique used to estimate the viability and seed germination. A fundamental condition for ensuring the efficiency of the test is the direct contact of the tetrazolium solution with the tissues of the seed to be tested. Due to the impermeability of the coats of most forest tree seeds, it is necessary to adopt a previous preparation of the seeds that were tested. This preparation is based on facilitating entry of the solution in the seed. Among the preparations that precede the test we have cutting the seed coat, seed coat removal, scarification by sandpaper scarification by soaking in hot water and water [16]. In the previous preparation of the seeds, factors such as concentration of the solution or even the time of the staining solution can affect the efficiency of the test in the evaluation of seed quality. The time required for the development of appropriate color according to the Rules for Seed Analysis [16] varies depending on each species, can be between 30 and 240 minutes.

The tetrazolium test has been widely used in seeds of various species due to the speed and efficiency in the characterization of the viability and vigor, and the possibility of damage to the same distinction, assisting in the process of quality control from the steps of harvest storage (GRIS et al, 2007).

The tetrazolium test was also applied to freshly collected K. coriacea Mart. seeds, for a total of three runs and 20 seeds. Seeds were soaked in a 0.5% solution of 2,3,5-triphenyl-2H-tetrazolium for 24 hours in a germination chamber set to a constant temperature of 25°C. After each run, seeds were washed, bisected, and the half-containing the embryonic axis placed under a stereo viewer for examination of staining patterns [17].

2.4. Germination Test

The standard germination test is the official procedure to evaluate the ability of seeds to produce normal seedlings under favorable conditions in the field, but does not always reveal differences in quality and performance among seed lots, which can manifest in storage or in the field [18].

During the germination test optimum conditions are provided and controlled for seeds to encourage the resumption of metabolic activity which will result in the seedlings. The main objective of the germination test is the information about the quality of seeds, which is used in the identification of lots for storage and sowing [19].

Freshly collected K. coriacea Mart. seeds were placed in a germination chamber at a constant temperature of 25°C (Treatment 1) or an alternating temperature of 20–30°C (Treatment 2), on a standard cycle of 8 hours of light and 16 hours of dark. Each test consisted of five runs and was performed on 20 seeds.

Germination was defined as emergence of at least 2.0 mm of the primary root [20]. Assessment was conducted daily, and emergence was observed between day 6 and day 7. At the end of the 14-day test period, the germination percentage was calculated on the basis of radicle emergence [21].


3. Results

3.1. Conductivity Test

Different soaking times were not associated with any significant differences in conductivity results in K. coriacea Mart. seeds (Table 1).

Table 1: Conductivity ranges of freshly collected Kielmeyera coriacea Mart. seeds after soaking for different periods.
Seeds with a leachate conductivity range of 7–17.99 μS·cm·g were considered nonviable, confirming the hypothesis behind conductivity testing, which is the nonviable seeds that have higher soaking solution conductivity values (Table 2).

Table 2: Percentage of viable Kielmeyera coriacea Mart. seeds according to EC range.
Analysis of variance revealed a low coefficient of variation (20.26%), which suggests good experimental control (Table 3).

Table 3: Analysis of variance of various soaking times for electrical conductivity testing of Kielmeyera coriacea Mart. seeds.
After analysis of variance, the correlation between the soaking time and electrical conductivity variables was assessed. The cubic model yielded


which is indicative of a positive correlation between the study variables.

The following equation was obtained on the basis of the cubic model:



Analysis of a plot of the above function in the GeoGebra 2007 software package shows that variation in electrical conductivity as a function of soaking time is minor and approaches a constant, which is consistent with the study results, in which changes in soaking time had no influence on conductivity (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Leachate conductivity as a function of soaking time in Kielmeyera coriaceaMart. seeds.

Matos [1] reported that a 30-minute soak was enough for assessment of Anadenanthera falcata, Copaifera langsdorffii, and Enterolobium contortisiliquum seeds by the soaking solution pH method—that is, the amount of matter leached after this period sufficed for measurement.

Although the principle of conductivity is the same used for the test pH of exudate, the soaking time needed to analyze the differential seeds through the conductivity may be explained by the fact that this technique is quantitative, while pH in the art exudate analyzes are qualitative. In other words to the technique of pH values of the exudate it is important to detect the acidity of imbibition while on the electrical conductivity we draw a comparison between the analyzed values to separate viable from nonviable samples. To determine a value of electrical conductivity as a reference to determine viable seeds are to be considered the values obtained for fresh seeds and seeds stored.

The thickness of the K. coriacea Mart. seed coat may also have affected the soaking procedure; this species has very thin seed coats, which makes soaking a very fast process.

These results are consistent with those reported by Rodrigues [22], who subjected stored K. coriaceaMart. seeds to the conductivity test and found that 90 minutes is an appropriate soaking time for analysis.

Therefore, it can be inferred that for seed Kielmeyera coriacea Mart. the soaking time of 90 minutes can be applied to obtain satisfactory results.

3.2. Tetrazolium Test

Table 4 shows the results of tetrazolium testing of K. coriacea Mart. seeds in our sample. The mean viability rate was 96.6%. The testing procedure was based on Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture recommendations [17].

Table 4: Tetrazolium testing of Kielmeyera coriacea Mart. seeds.

The results of the tetrazolium test were quite similar to those obtained with the conductivity method, thus confirming the efficiency of the latter method as a means for assessing the viability of K. coriaceaMart. seeds.

3.3. Germination Test

The germination test results of freshly collected K. coriacea Mart. seeds are shown in Table 5. Regardless of temperature, both test batches exhibited good viability, and no seed dormancy was detected.

Table 5: Germination test results of Kielmeyera coriacea Mart. seeds.

Radicle emergence was observed between day 7 and day 9 of the test, according to the analysis criteria proposed by Labouriau [21].

These findings are consistent with those of Melo et al., [23] who reported high and relatively rapid germination rates for K. coriacea seeds kept at 25°C on paper towels, with emergence of a perfect radicle on the 7th day of assessment.

4. Conclusions

The electrical conductivity can be used as an indicator of seed viability and presents two advantages: to provide rapid and reliable results and the technique is not destructive and can use the seeds after the conductivity test, so they can be used to produce seedlings.

The present study showed that different soaking times had no effect on the results of conductivity testing of freshly collected K. coriacea Mart. seeds, suggesting that the amount of leached matter was never below the threshold required for adequate testing.

Electrical conductivity testing proved to be a feasible option for viability testing of K. coriacea Mart. seeds, as the results obtained with conductivity testing were confirmed by germination testing and by the tetrazolium test.


  1. J. M. M. Matos, Evaluation of pH test on exudate check feasibility of forest seeds, dissertation, University of Brasília, Brasília, Brazil, 2009.
  2. F. Poggiani, S. Bruni, and E. S. Q. Barbos, “Effect of shading on seedling growth of three species forest,” in National conference on native plants, vol. 2, pp. 564–569, Institute of Forestry, 1992.
  3. M. B. Mcdonald Jr. and D. O. Wilson, “ASA-610 ability to detect changes in soybean seed quality,” Journal of Seed Technology, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 56–66, 1980.
  4. S. Matthews and A. Powell, “A eletrical conductivity test,” in Handbook of Vigor Test Methods, D. A. Perry, Ed., pp. 37–42, International Seed Testing Associaty, Zurich, Switzerland, 1981.
  5. J. Son Mark, W. R. Singh, A. D. C. Novembre, and H. M. C. P. Chamma, “Comparative studies to evaluate dem’etodos physiological quality of soybean seeds, with emphasis the electrical conductivity test,” Brazilian Journal of Agricultural Research, vol. 25, no. 12, pp. 1805–1815, 1990.
  6. S. R. Singh, A. P. Silva, C. B. Munhoz, et al., Guide of Cerrado Plants Used in the Chapada Veadeiros, WWF-Brazil, Brasilia, Brazil, 2001.
  7. J. M. Felfili, C. W. Fagg, J. C. S. Silva, et al., Plants of the APA Gama Cabeça de Veado: Species, ecosystems and recovery, University of Brasilia, Brasília, Department of Engineering Forest, Brasília, Brazil, 2002.
  8. M. F. B. Muniz, et al., “Comparison of methods for evaluating the physiological and health quality of melon seeds,” Journal of Seeds, Pellets, vol. 26, no. 2, pp. 144–149, 2004.
  9. D. C. F. S. Dias and J. Marcos Filho, “Electrical conductivity to assess seed vigor of soybean (Glycine max (L.) Merrill),” Scientia Agricola, vol. 53, no. 1, Article ID article id, pp. 31–42, 1996.View at Publisher · View at Google Scholar
  10. J. C. Delouche and C. C. Baskin, “Acelerated aging techniques for predicting the relative storability of seed lots,” Seed Science and Technology, vol. 1, no. 2, pp. 427–452, 1973.
  11. R. D. Vieira and F. C. Krzyzanowski, “Electrical conductivity test,” in Seed Vigor: Concepts and Tests, F. C. Krzyzanowski, R. D. Vieira, and J. B. França Neto, Eds., pp. 4.1–4.26, Abrates, London, UK, 1999.
  12. R. D. Vieira, “Electrical conductivity test,” in Seed Vigor Tests, R. D. Vieira and N. M. Carvalho, Eds., p. 103, FUNEP, Jaboticabal, Brazil, 1994.
  13. A. S. Amaral and S. T. Peske, “Exudate pH to estimate, in 30 minutes seed viability of soybeans,”Journal of seeds, vol. 6, no. 3, pp. 85–92, 1984.
  14. E. J. Fernandes, R. Sader, and N. M. Carvalho, “seed viability beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) estimated by the pH of the exudate,” in Congress Brazil’s Seeds, Gramado, Brazil, 1987.
  15. F. C. Krzyzanowski and R. D. Vieira, “Electrical conductivity test,” in Seed Vigor: Concepts and Tests, F. C. Krzyzanowski, R. D. Vieira, and J. B. France Neto, Eds., pp. 4.1–4.26, Abrates, London, UK, 1999.
  16. Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply, Rule for seed testing, SNPA/DNPV/CLAV, Brasilia, Brazil, 1992.
  17. Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply, Rule for seed testing, SNPA/DNPV/CLAV, Brasilia, Brazil, 2009.
  18. N. M. Carvalho and J. Nakagawa, Seeds: Science, Technology and Production, FUNEP, Jaboticabal, Brazil, 2000.
  19. Pina-Rodrigues, et al., “Quality test,” in Germination from Basic to Applied, A. Ferreira and G. F. Borghetti, Eds., pp. 283–297, 2004.
  20. A. G. Ferreira and F. Borghetti, from basic to Germination applied, Artmed, Porto Alegre, Brazil, 2004.
  21. L. G. Labouriau, seed germination, OAS, Washington, DC, USA, 1983.
  22. L. L. Rodrigues, Study of imbibition time for application the method of electrical conductivity in the verification of the feasibility forest seeds stored, monograph, University of Brasília, Brasília, Brazil, 2010.
  23. J. T. Melo, J. F. Ribeiro, and V. L. G. F. Lima, “Germination of Seeds of some tree species native to the Cerrado,” Journal of Seeds, vol. 1, no. 2, pp. 8–12, 1979.

Research article by: Kennya Mara Oliveira Ramos,1 Juliana M. M. Matos,1 Rosana C. C. Martins,1 and Ildeu S. Martins2

1Seed Technology Laboratory of Forestry, Department of Forestry, University of Brasilia, CP 04357, 70919970 Campus Asa Norte, DF, Brazil
2Department of Forestry, University of Brasilia, CP 04357, 70919970 Campus Asa Norte, DF, Brazil

Received 17 December 2011; Accepted 14 February 2012

Academic Editors: A. Berville, C. Gisbert, J. Hatfield, and Y. Ito

Copyright © 2012 Kennya Mara Oliveira Ramos et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Categories : Case Studies & Application Stories, Science and Industry Updates

Conductivity as a Function of Location –

Posted by 26 May, 2013

TweetHypothesis: Does the time of year affect the conductivity of stagnant water in a given location? Abstract: We decided to test the conductivity levels of the water at Flat Rock Brook. If the conductivity levels are higher, it might imply higher total dissolved solid levels. We would like to see if the conductivity level changes during seasons […]

Hypothesis: Does the time of year affect the conductivity of stagnant water in a given location? Abstract: We decided to test the conductivity levels of the water at Flat Rock Brook. If the conductivity levels are higher, it might imply higher total dissolved solid levels. We would like to see if the conductivity level changes during seasons with snowfall versus seasons without snowfall. Background:

  • Independent Variable: Time of Year (Season)
  • Independent Variable: Location
  • Dependent Variable: Conductivity Level (mg/L TDS)

The purpose of the experiment is to test the change in conductivity level throughout the year (on a seasonal basis) in various locations. While doing this experiment, it is important to keep in mind these three things:

  1. How does conductivity vary at any of the given sites during a given season.(1)
  2. What human influence might have an impact on the conductivity of the water at any given part of the year.(1)
  3. Why might this change affect the ability of organisms to live in the given test sites.(1)

This is important to Flat Rock Brook because the data could be used to do several things. For example, the change in conductivity may change the organic life in the water, thus changing the ability to safely drink it. The change may impact the ability of organisms to grow in the water, and it may change the reactive nature of the water. Conductivity can be measured by the total dissolved solids in the water. Total Dissolves Solids include the number of mineral and salt impurities in the water. (1) Ultimately, the number of minerals and salts determines how many ions in mg/L. The impurities in the water can include runoff from roads, wastewater from industrial plants, and soils and rocks. (1) The amount of total dissolved solids in the water can have a physiological effect on plants and animals living in the ponds. (2) Conductivity can be used as a way of noting changes in water conditions over short periods of time. (2) Also, the level of total dissolved solvents in water can have an effect of the ability of habitat-forming plants to grow, thus disrupting the presence of certain species. (2) Materials:

  • GPS Navigator by Magellan: We used the GPS as a way to mark off specific testing sites at McFadden’s Pond and Quarry Pond, in order to test in a precise and consistent location
  • pH/Conductivity Probe: We used the pH/Conductivity Probe to test the level of conductivity in the various locations. The conductivity was measured in mg/L (TDS), and microsiemens (µS), but due to the difficult nature of working with microsiemens, we chose to work primarily with mg/L(TDS).
  • Distilled Water: We used the distilled water to wash off the probe in between tests in order to maintain accurate readings without tainted results.
  • Map of Flat Rock Brook: We used the map of Flat Rock Brook in order to find locations from which we could test conductivity levels of water.
  • Vernier conductivity probe used with a Lab Pro interface: We used this for our May data in order to get a more accurate reading. By taking samples from Flat Rock Brook, we connected this probe to Logger Pro and recorded the conductivity which was also measured in TDS. NOTE: We used the conductivity data from these readings in our graphs and overall analysis because it provided a more accurate measurement













Methods: *Adapted from Electrical Conductivity Protocol Used by University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, Colorado State University, and NASA. (Water Temperature was not recorded.)

  • Record water temperature
  • Pour water sample into two containers (or measure in water body)
  • Rinse electrodes with distilled water, blot dry
  • Place meter in first container, 2-3 seconds
  • Remove meter, shake gently, and place in second

container, 1 minute (Do not rinse with distilled water)

  • Record value when stabilized
  • Repeat measurement with new sample water, twice
  • Average three measurements and check for accuracy

Original Protocol can be found at this link*:


Cleaning off the conductivity probe before testing the water. (Figure 2)


Testing the conductivity of the pond (Figure 3)


Results: Fall (November) : -Quarry Pond:

  • .9 mg/L

-McFadden’s Pond (site A)*:

  • 3.1 mg/L

-McFadden’s Pond (site B)*:

  • 3.05 mg/L

Spring (May): (with ph/conductivity probe) -Quarry Pond:

  • .83 mg/L

-McFadden’s Pond (Site A):

  • 2.95 mg/L

-McFadden’s Pond (Site B):

  • 2.02 mg/L

Spring (May): (LoggerPro Data) -Quarry Pond:

  • .8 mg/L

-McFadden’s Pond (Site A):

  • 3.1 mg/L

-McFadden’s Pond (Site B):

  • 2.1 mg/L

Data Graph for Quarry Pond (Figure 4)

Data Graph for McFadden’s Pond Site A (Figure 5)

Data Graph for McFadden’s Pond Site B (Figure 6)

Data Graph for all three locations (Figure 7)


Discussion: Throughout our research, there was a general shift in the conductivity level in each site we tested. At Quarry Pond, the total dissolved solids reduced from .9 mg/L to .8 mg/L from November to May. This shift can be seen in the graph shown in Figure 4. McFadden’s Pond Site B also showed a substantial shift between the November and May readings, from 3.05 mg/L to 2.1 mg/L, as seen in Figure 6. Despite these significant changes, Site A at McFadden’s Pond did not change. This could potentially be due to its close proximity to moving water. A subtle, unnoticed under-current may have existed which may have caused the water to be mixed, and therefore diluted. The figures for this measurement can be seen in Figure 5.

The changes in conductivity at Quarry Pond may be the result of runoff from the parking lot and the roads in close proximity to it. Quarry Pond, unlike the other locations was close enough to a road that run-off affects the level of total dissolved solids. Although there was a significant change in conductivity between readings, the total dissolved solids were much lower than that of McFadden’s Pond. This may explain why the presence of algae was much higher in Quarry Pond than in McFadden’s Pond. McFadden’s Pond’s conductivity may have been higher due to a larger level of mineral deposits from soil runoff. One possible explanation for this shift in conductivity is the dilution of total dissolved solids in pond water due to rainfall and melting water from snow.

Conclusion: When comparing conductivity of water at a given point of time during the year, it is clear that there are noticeable differences. During the Fall and Winter, when there is more soil and road runoff, the conductivity level is higher. Conversely, during the spring, when there is more rainwater and melted snow and ice to dilute the ponds, the conductivity level drops. This would suggest that during fall and winter, the conditions of the pond are noticeably different. This suggests the possibility that there may be a shift in population from one group of organisms to another on a seasonal basis. Knowledge of these changes may help to explain why animals would migrate to a different habitat during different seasons. Because of the nature of soil runoff and road runoff, the level of Total Dissolved Solids in the water changes on a seasonal basis, and with that, the conductivity changes as well. In conclusion, conductivity does change over time of year in stagnant water, primarily because of external conditions such as runoff and wastewater.


(1)The GLOBE Program, “Electrical Conductivity Protocol.” Hydro-Electrical Conductivity. Ed. UCAR, Colorado State University, NASA.


We used the Power Point file linked to this page as our primary source of background information as well as a standard protocol for our field tests.

(2)Conductivity And Water Quality.

<[[|<span]] We used this website as our second source of data for finding out environmental impacts of change in conductivity and overall water quality. (Note: No Author, Publisher or Editor could be found for this web page.) __ *Site A is to the right of Mystery Bridge *Site B is to the left of Mystery Bridge *Note, this protocol was implemented both in the field and in a lab dependent on the time the data was collected *If the web page is difficult to view, a link to a .ppt file is available at the top of the page. The protocol can be found on slide #12.

Study authors: Margot Bennett and Rob Schwartz

Contributions to are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 3.0 License


Categories : Case Studies & Application Stories, Science and Industry Updates

Conductivity as alternative measurement for WWTP inflow dynamics –

Posted by 11 Apr, 2013

Tweet Myron L Meters Myron L Meters sells the most accurate, reliable conductivity instruments in the water treatment industry.  You can find some of our most popular meters here: Introduction Along with the development of  more and more complex integrated models for urban water systems the need of sufficient  data  bases grows as well. […]

Myron L Meters

Myron L Meters sells the most accurate, reliable conductivity instruments in the water treatment industry.  You can find some of our most popular meters here:


Along with the development of  more and more complex integrated models for urban water systems the need of sufficient  data  bases grows as well. It is even complicated to measure relevant parameters,e.g. dissolved nitrogen or COD, for their use in Waste Water Treatment Plants and sewer models to describe the influence of catchments to the receiving water.

This poster presents a method regarding the possibility of substituting an online ammonia measurement by conductivity measurements in the inflow of a Waste Water Treatment Plant . The aim was the description of the dynamics in wet weather flow through storm water events for modelling purposes.

The conductivity of an aqueous solution is the measure of its ability to conduct electricity. Responsible for that phenomenon are ions of dissolved salts. In natural and drinking water these are mainly carbonates, chlorides and sulphates of calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium. Conducted experiences and measurements in combined sewers showed a relation between conductivity in Waste Water Treatment Plant inflow and the concentration of dissolved components, e.g. ammonia, in case of rainfall events. The data for different 3 Waste Water Treatment Plant are shown in Figure 1. Rainwater has nearly no ions that cause conductivity to be measured. Therefore, diluted wastewater flowing into the Waste Water Treatment Plant can be detected by a conductivity probe. The measure and quality of linear regression between ammonia concentration and conductivity can be found in Table 1 for all data from Figure 1.

Material and Methods

With this knowledge a simple regression-based inflow model for use in activated sludge modelling of Waste Water Treatment Plant was defined to use conductivity beside available composite samples as a measure for dynamics in ammonia concentration as one of the most dynamic measure.

Results and Discussion

For one of the considered Waste Water Treatment Plants (WWTP) the resulting quality for the inflow model is shown in Figure 2 for a time series of a week.

Furthermore, the inflow model was used as a source for a retention tank model at the inlet of another Waste Water Treatment Plant to describe the impact of different management strategies (storage or flow through) on receiving water and Waste Water Treatment Plant (Figure 3).

A long-term modelling of 9 storm water events was used to show the predictive capacity of the model. The regression parameters were fitted by an optimisation routine to get best fit for all concentrations (also for COD, not presented here). Figure 3 shows the fit for all events. A good prediction of dynamics and absolute values for ammonia can be seen.

The results of different Goodness-of-fit measures are summarized in Table 2 for both presented WWTP inflows. Especially the values for the modified Coefficient of Efficiency, as a well-known and used measure for model quality in hydrological sciences, show the degree of predicting of the used method and the usability of conductivity for description of influent dynamics to Waste Water Treatment Plant in storm water cases.


This simple and easy-to-use method is well suited for implementation in Waste Water Treatment Plant models to describe the inflow dynamics regarding a more realistic behavior e.g. for optimization of process control.

by Markus Ahnert*, Norbert Günther*, Volker Kuehn*, University of Dresden 

Ahnert, M., Blumensaat, F., Langergraber, G., Alex, J., Woerner, D., Frehmann, T., Halft, N., Hobus, I., Plattes, M., Spering, V. und Winkler, S. (2007), Goodness-of-fit measures for numerical modelling in urban water management – a summary to support practical applications., paper presented at 10th IWA Specialised Conference on “Design, Operation and Economics of Large Wastewater Treatment Plants”, 9-13 September 2007, Vienna, Austria, 9-13 September 2007.

Nash, J. E. und Sutcliffe, J. V. (1970), River flow forecasting through conceptual models part I – A discussion of principles, Journal of Hydrology, 10, 282.

IWA Water Wiki ( / CC BY-SA 3.0

Figure 1

Table 1

Figure 2

Figure 3

Table 2


Categories : Case Studies & Application Stories, Science and Industry Updates

The thermal conductivity enhancement of nanofluids –

Posted by 3 Apr, 2013

TweetThe thermal conductivity enhancement of nanofluids  Abstract Increasing interests have been paid to nanofluids because of the intriguing heat transfer enhancement performances presented by this kind of promising heat transfer media. We produced a series of nanofluids and measured their thermal conductivities. In this article, we discussed the measurements and the enhancements of the thermal […]

The thermal conductivity enhancement of nanofluids


Increasing interests have been paid to nanofluids because of the intriguing heat transfer enhancement performances presented by this kind of promising heat transfer media. We produced a series of nanofluids and measured their thermal conductivities. In this article, we discussed the measurements and the enhancements of the thermal conductivity of a variety of nanofluids. The base fluids used included those that are most employed heat transfer fluids, such as deionized water (DW), ethylene glycol (EG), glycerol, silicone oil, and the binary mixture of DW and EG. Various nanoparticles (NPs) involving Al2O3 NPs with different sizes, SiC NPs with different shapes, MgO NPs, ZnO NPs, SiO2 NPs, Fe3O4 NPs, TiO2 NPs, diamond NPs, and carbon nanotubes with different pretreatments were used as additives. Our findings demonstrated that the thermal conductivity enhancements of nanofluids could be influenced by multi-faceted factors including the volume fraction of the dispersed NPs, the tested temperature, the thermal conductivity of the base fluid, the size of the dispersed NPs, the pretreatment process, and the additives of the fluids. The thermal transport mechanisms in nanofluids were further discussed, and the promising approaches for optimizing the thermal conductivity of nanofluids have been proposed.


More efficient heat transfer systems are increasingly preferred because of the accelerating miniaturization, on the one hand, and the ever-increasing heat flux, on the other. In many industrial processes, including power generation, chemical processes, heating or cooling processes, and microelectronics, heat transfer fluids such as water, mineral oil, and ethylene glycol always play vital roles. The poor heat transfer properties of these common fluids compared to most solids is a primary obstacle to the high compactness and effectiveness of heat exchangers[1]. An innovative way of improving the thermal conductivities of working media is to suspend ultrafine metallic or nonmetallic solid powders in traditional fluids since the thermal conductivities of most solid materials are higher than those of liquids. A novel kind of heat transfer enhancement fluid, the so-called nanofluid, has been proposed to meet the demands [2].

“Nanofluid” is an eye-catching word in the heat transfer community nowadays. The thermal properties, including thermal conductivity, viscosity, specific heat, convective heat transfer coefficient, and critical heat flux have been studied extensively. Several elaborate and comprehensive review articles and books have addressed thermal transport properties of nanofluids [1,3-6]. Among all these properties, thermal conductivity is the first referred one, and it is believed to be the most important parameter responsible for the enhanced heat transfer. Investigations on the thermal conductivity of nanofluids have been drawing the greatest attention of the researchers. A variety of physical and chemical factors, including the volume fraction, the size, the shape, and the species of the nanoparticles (NPs), pH value and temperature of the fluids, the Brownian motion of the NPs, and the aggregation of the NPs, have been proposed to play their respective roles on the heat transfer characteristics of nanofluids [7-19]. Extensive efforts have been made to improve the thermal conductivity of nanofluids [7-19] and to elucidate the thermal transport mechanisms in nanofluids [20-23].

The authors have carried out a series of studies on the heat transfer enhancement performance of nanofluids. A variety of nanofluids have been produced by the one- or two-step method. The base fluids used include deionized water (DW), ethylene glycol (EG), glycerol, silicone oil, and the binary mixture of DW and EG (DW-EG). Al2O3 NPs with different sizes, SiC NPs with different shapes, MgO NPs, ZnO NPs, SiO2 NPs, Fe3O4 NPs, TiO2 NPs, diamond NPs (DNPs), and carbon nanotubes (CNTs) with different pretreatments have been used as additives. The thermal conductivities of these nanofluids have been measured by transient hot wire (THW) method or short hot wire (SHW) technique. In this article, the experimental results that elucidate the influencing factors for thermal conductivity enhancement of nanofluids are presented. The thermal transport mechanisms in nanofluids and promising approaches for optimizing the thermal conductivity of nanofluids are further presented.

Preparation of nanofluids

Two techniques have been applied to prepare nanofluids in our studies: two- and one-step techniques. Most of the studied nanofluids were prepared by the two-step technique. During the procedure of two-step technique, the dispersed NPs were prepared by chemical or physical methods first, and then the NPs were added into a specified base fluid, with or without pretreatment and surfactant based on the need. In the preparation of nanofluids containing metallic NPs, one-step technique was employed.

The process was quite simple in the preparation of nanofluids containing oxide NPs like Al2O3, ZnO, MgO, TiO2, and SiO2 NPs. The NPs were obtained commercially and were dispersed into a base fluid in a mixing container. The NPs were deagglomerated by intensive ultrasonication after being mixed with the base fluid, and then the suspensions were homogenized by magnetic force agitation.

Two-step method was used to prepare graphene nanofluids. The first step was to prepare graphene nanosheets. Functionalized graphene was gained through a modified Hummers method as described elsewhere [24]. Graphene nanosheets were obtained by exfoliation of graphite in anhydrous ethanol. The product was a loose brown powder, and it had good hydrophilic nature. The graphene nanosheets could be dispersed well in polar solvents, like DW and EG, without the use of surfactant. For liquid paraffin (LP)-based nanofluid, oleylamine was used as the surfactant. The fixed quality of graphene nanosheets with different volume fractions was dispersed in the base fluids.

Severe aggregation always takes place in the as-prepared CNTs (pristine CNTs: PCNTs) because of the non-reactive surfaces, intrinsic Von der Waals forces, and very large specific surface areas, and aspect ratios [25]. In CNT nanofluid preparations, surfactant addition is an effective way to enhance the dispersibility of CNTs [26-28]. However, surfactant molecules attaching on the surfaces of CNTs may enlarge the thermal resistance between the CNTs and the base fluid [29], which limits the enhancement of the effective thermal conductivity. The steps involved in the preparation of surfactant-free CNT nanofluids include (1) disentangling the nanotube entanglement and introducing hydrophilic functional groups on the surfaces of the nanotubes by chemical treatments; (2) cutting the treated CNTs (TCNTs) to optimal length by ball milling; and (3) dispersing the treated and cut CNTs into base fluids. CNTs including single-walled CNTs (SWNTs), double-walled CNTs (DWNTs), and multi-walled CNTs (MWNTs) were obtained commercially. Two chemical routes for treating CNTs were used for this study. One is oxidation with concentrated acid, and the other is mechanochemical reaction with potassium hydroxide (KOH). The detailed treatment processes have been described elsewhere [8,30].

Phase transfer method was used to prepare stable kerosene-based Fe3O4 magnetic nanofluid. The first step is to synthesize Fe3O4 NPs in water by coprecipitation. Oleic acid was added to modify the NPs. When kerosene is added to the mixture with slow stirring, the phase transfer process took place spontaneously. There was a distinct phase interface between the aqueous and kerosene. After the removal of the aqueous phase using a pipette, the kerosene-based Fe3O4 nanofluid was obtained [31].

Nanofluids containing copper NPs were prepared using direct chemical reduction method. Stable nanofluids were obtained with the addition of poly(vinylpyrrolidone) (PVP). The diameters of copper NPs prepared by chemical reduction procedure are in the range of 5-10 nm, and copper NPs disperse well with no clear aggregation [32].

Surface modification is always used to enhance the dispersibility of NPs in the preparation of nanofluids. For example, diamond NPs (DNPs) were purified and surface modified by acid mixtures of perchloric acid, nitric acid and hydrochloric acid according to the literature [33] before being dispersed into the base fluids. SiC NPs were heated in air to remove the excess free carbon and their surfaces modified to enhance their dispersibility.

Consideration on the thermal conductivity measurement

Inconsistent experimental results and controversial arguments arise unceasingly from different groups conducting research on nanofluids, indicating the complexity of the thermal transport in nanofluids. Through an investigation, a large degree of randomness and scatter have been observed in the experimental data published in the open literature. Given the inconsistency in the data, it is impossible to develop a convincing and comprehensive physical-based model that can predict all the trends. To clarify the suspicion on the scattered and wide-ranging experimental results of the thermal conductivity obtained by different groups, it is preferred to screen the measurement technique and procedure to guarantee the accuracy of the obtained results.

Several researchers observed the “time-dependent characteristic” of thermal conductivity [34-36], that is to say, thermal conductivity was the highest right after nanofluid preparation, and then it decreased considerably with elapsed time. We believe that the “time-dependent characteristic” does not represent the essence of thermal conduction capability of nanofluids. The following two factors may account for this phenomenon. The first one is the motion of the remained particle caused by the agitation during the nanofluid preparation. To make a nanofluid homogeneous and long-term stable, it is always subjected to intensive agitation including magnetic stirring and sonication to destroy the aggregation of the suspended NPs. In very short time after nanofluid preparation, the NPs still keep moving in the base fluid (different from Brownian motion). The motion of the remained particle would cause convection and enhance the energy transport in the nanofluids. Second, when a nanofluid is subjected to long-time sonication, its temperature would be increased. The temperature goes down gradually to the surrounding temperature (thermal conductivity measurement temperature). In very short time after the sonication stops, the process has been remaining. Although the temperature decrease is not severe, the thermal conductivity obtained is very sensitive to the temperature decrease when the transient hot-wire technique is used to measured the thermal conductivity. In our measurements, this phenomenon would be observed. When measuring the thermal conductivity at an unequilibrium state, it was found that the measured data might be very different for a nanofluid even at a specific temperature (see 25°C) if the process to reach this temperature is different. If the temperature is increasing, then the datum obtained of the thermal conductivity would be lower than the true value. While the temperature is decreasing, the datum obtained of the thermal conductivity would be higher than the true value. Therefore, keeping a nanofluid stable and initial equilibrium is very important to obtain accurate thermal conductivity data in measurements.

A transient short hot-wire method was used to measure the thermal conductivities of the base fluids (k0) and the nanofluids (k). The detailed measurement principle, procedure, and error analysis have been described in [37]. In our measurements, a platinum wire with a diameter of 50 μm was used for the hot wire, and it served both as a heating unit and as an electrical resistance thermometer. The platinum wire was coated with an insulation layer of 7-μm thickness. Initially the platinum wire immersed in media was kept at equilibrium with the surroundings. When a regulation voltage was supplied to initiate the measurement, the electrical resistance of the wire changed proportionally with the rise in temperature. The thermal conductivity was calculated from the slope of the rise in the wire’s temperature against the logarithmic time interval. The uncertainty of this measurement is estimated to be within ± 1.0%. A temperature-controlled bath was used to maintain different temperatures of the nanofluids. Instead of monitoring the temperature of the bath, a thermocouple was positioned inside the sample to monitor the temperature on the spot. When the temperature of the sample reached a steady value, the authors waited for further 20 min to make sure that the initial state is at equilibrium. At every tested temperature, measurements were made three times and the average values were taken as the final results. A 20-min interval was needed between two successive measurements. After the above-mentioned careful check on the measurement condition and procedure, the authors could gain confidence on the experimental results.

Influencing factors of thermal conductivity enhancement

In the experiment of the study, it was found that the thermal conductivity enhancements of nanofluids might be influenced by multi-faceted factors including the volume fraction of the dispersed NPs, the tested temperature, the thermal conductivity of the base fluid, the size of the dispersed NPs, the pretreatment process, and the additives of the fluids. The effects of these factors are presented in this section.

Particle loading

The idea of nanofluid application originated from the fact that the thermal conductivity of a solid is much higher than that of a liquid. For example, the thermal conductivity of the most used conventional heat transfer fluid, water, is about 0.6 W/m · K at room temperature, while that of copper is higher than 400 W/m · K. Therefore, particle loading would be the chief factor that influences the thermal transport in nanofluids. As expected, the thermal conductivities of the nanofluids have been increased over that of the base fluid with the addition of a small amount of NPs. Figure 1 shows the enhanced thermal conductivity ratios of the nanofluids with NPs at different volume fractions [7,8,38-42]. (k0)/k0 and φ refer to the thermal conductivity enhancement ratio of nanofluids and the volume fraction of NPs, respectively, in this article. Figure1a presents oxide nanofluids, while Figure 1b presents nonoxide nanofluids. The results show that all the nanofluids have noticeable higher thermal conductivities than the base fluid without NPs. In general, the thermal conductivity enhancement increases monotonously with the volume fraction. For the graphene nanofluid with a volume fraction of 0.05, the thermal conductivity can be enhanced by more than 60.0%. There is an approximate linear relationship between the thermal conductivity enhancement ratios and the volume fraction of graphene nanosheets. The nanofluids containing graphene nanosheets show larger thermal conductivity enhancement than those containing oxide NPs. It demonstrates that graphene nanosheet is a good additive to enhance the thermal conductivity of base fluid. However, the enhancement ratios of nanofluids containing graphene nanosheets are less than those of CNTs with the same loading. Many factors have direct influence on the thermal conductivity of the nanofluid. One of the important factors is the crystal structure of the inclusion in the nanofluid. Graphene is a one-atom-thick planar sheet of sp2-bonded carbon atoms that are densely packed in a honeycomb crystal lattice. The perfect structure of graphene is damaged when graphite is chemically oxidized by treatment with strong oxidants. There is no doubt that the high thermal conductivity is diminished by defects, and the defects have direct influence on the heat transport along the 2-D structure.

Figure 1. Thermal conductivity enhancement ratios of the nanofluids as a function of nanoparticle loading(a) Oxide nanofluids: MgO-EG [38]; Al2O3-EG [7]; ZnO-EG [39]; (b) Nonoxide nanofluids: CNT-EG [8]; DNP-EG [40]; Graphene-EG [41]; Cu-EG [42].






























Some studies have demonstrated that the temperature has a great effect on the enhancement of the thermal conductivity for nanofluids. However, there is considerable disagreement in the literature with respect to the temperature dependence of their thermal conductivity. For example, Das et al. reported strong temperature-depended thermal conductivity for water-based Al2O3 and CuO nanofluids [43]. The thermal conductivity enhancements of nanofluids containing Bi2Te3nanorods in FC72 and in oil had been experimentally found to decrease with increasing temperature [44]. Micael et al. measured the thermal conductivities of EG-based Al2O3 nanofluids at temperatures ranging from 298 to 411 K. A maximum in the thermal conductivity was observed at all mass fractions of NPs [45].

Figure 2 shows our measured temperature-depended thermal conductivity enhancements of nanofluids [8,38-42]. For EG-based nanofluids containing MgO, ZnO, SiO2, and graphene NPs, the thermal conductivity enhancements almost remain constant when the tested temperature changes (see Figure 2a), which means that the thermal conductivity of the nanofluid tracks the thermal conductivities of the base liquid in the experimented temperature range of this study. The thermal conductivity enhancements of DW-EG-based nanofluids containing MgO, ZnO, SiO2, Al2O3, Fe2O3, TiO2, and graphene NPs also appear to have the same behavior. It was further found that kerosene-based Fe3O4 nanofluids presented temperature-independent thermal conductivity enhancements. Patel et al. [46] reported that the thermal conductivity enhancement ratios of Cu nanofluids are enhanced considerably when the temperature increases. The experimental results of this study shown in Figure 2b demonstrated similar tendency. At 10°C, the thermal conductivity enhancement of EG based Cu nanofluid with 0.5% nanoparticle loading is less than 15.0%. When the temperature is increased to 60°C, the enhancement reaches as large as 46.0%. Brownian motion of the NPs has been proposed as the dominant factor for this phenomenon. For the EG-based CNT nanofluids, cylindrical nanotubes with large aspect ratios were used as additions. The effect of Brownian motion will be negligible. Typical conduction-based models will give (k0)/k0, independent of the temperature. However, results shown in Figure 2b illustrate that (k0)/k0increases, though not drastically, with the temperature. CNT aggregation kinetics may contribute to the observed differences [21]. It is worthy of bearing in mind that the temperatures of the base fluid and the nanofluid should be the same when compared with the thermal conductivities between them. Comparison of the thermal conductivities between the nanofluid at one temperature and the base at another one is meaningless.

Figure 2. Thermal conductivity enhancement varying with the tested temperatures(a) Oxide nanofluids: MgO-EG [38]; ZnO-EG[39]; Graphene-EG [41]; (b) Nonoxide nanofluids: Cu-EG [42]; CNT-EG[8]; DNP-EG [40].






























Base fluid

Figure 3 shows the relation between the enhanced thermal conductivity ratios of the nanofluids and the thermal conductivities of the base fluids [7,8,40,41]. It is clearly seen that no matter what kind of nanoparticle was used, the thermal conductivity enhancement decreases with an increase in the thermal conductivity of the base fluid. For pump oil (PO)-based Al2O3 nanofluid with 5.0% nanoparticle loading, the thermal conductivity can be enhanced by more than 38% compared to that of PO. When the base fluid is substituted with water, the thermal conductivity enhancement achieved is only about 22.0% [7]. A greater dramatic improvement in thermal conductivity of CNT nanofluid is seen for a base fluid with lower thermal conductivity. At 1.0% nanoparticle loading, the thermal conductivity enhancements are 19.6, 12.7, and 7.0% for CNT nanofluids in decene, EG, and DW, respectively. No matter what kind of base fluid is used, the thermal conductivity enhancement of CNT nanofluids is much higher than that for Al2O3 nanoparticle suspensions [8] at the same volume fraction. The reason would lie in the substantial difference in thermal conductivity and morphology between alumina nanoparticle and carbon nanotube.

Figure 3. Thermal conductivity enhancement ratios as a function of the thermal conductivities of the base fluids: Al2ONFs [7]; CNT NFs [8]; Graphene NFs [41]; DNP NFs [40].

Particle size

Figure 4 presents the thermal conductivity enhancement of the nanofluids as a function of the specific surface area (SSA) of the suspended particles [7]. It is seen that the thermal conductivity enhancement increases first, and then decreases with an increase in the SSA, with the largest thermal conductivity at a particle SSA of 25 m2 · g-1. We ascribe the thermal conductivity change behavior to twofold factors. First, as particle size decreases, the SSA of the particle increases proportionally. Heat transfer between the particle and the fluid takes place at the particle-fluid interface. Therefore, a dramatic enhancement in thermal conductivity is expected because a reduction in particle size can result in large interfacial area. Second, the mean free path in polycrystalline Al2O3 is estimated to be around 35 nm, which is comparable to the size of the particle that was used. The intrinsic thermal conductivity of nanosized Al2O3 particle may be reduced compared to that of bulk Al2O3 due to the scattering of the primary carriers of energy (phonon) at the particle boundary. It is expected that the suspension’s thermal conductivity is reduced with an increase in the SSA. Therefore, for a suspension containing NPs at a particle size much different from the mean free path, the thermal conductivity increases when the particle size decreases because the first factor is dominant. However, when the size of the dispersed NPs is close to or smaller than the mean free path, the second factor will govern the mechanism of the thermal conductivity behavior of the suspension.

Figure 4. Enhanced thermal conductivity ratios as a function of the SSAs: Al2O3-EG [7]; Al2O3-PO [7].
















Figure 5 depicts the thermal conductivity enhancements of nanofluids containing CNTs with different sizes [47]. The base fluid is DW, and the volume fraction of the CNTs is 0.0054. It is observed from Figure 5 that the thermal conductivity enhancements show differences among these three kinds of nanofluids containing SWNTs, DWNTs, and MWNTs as the volume fraction of CNTs is the same. Two influencing factors may be addressed. The first one is the intrinsic heat transfer performance of the CNTs. It is reported that the thermal conductivity of CNTs decreases with an increase in the number of the nanotube layer. The tendency of the thermal conductivity enhancement of the obtained CNT nanofluids accords with that of the heat transfer performance of the three kinds of CNTs. The second one is the alignment of the liquid molecules on the surface of CNTs. There are greater number of water molecules close to the surfaces of CNTs with smaller diameter due to the larger SSA if the volume fractions of CNTs are the same. These water molecules can form an interfacial layer structure on the CNT surfaces, increasing the thermal conductivity of the nanofluid [47].

Figure 5. Thermal conductivity enhancements of nanofluids containing CNTs with different sizes: SWNT-DW [47]; DWNT-DW[47]; MWNT-DW [47].

















In the preparation of nanofluids, solid additives are always subjected to various pretreatment procedures. The initial incentive is to tailor the surfaces of the NPs to enhance their dispersibility, thereby to enhance the stability of the nanofluids. The morphologies would be significantly changed when CNTs were subjected to chemical or mechanical treatments. Theoretical research into the thermal conductivity of composites containing cylindrical inclusions has demonstrated that the morphologies, including the aspect ratio, have influence on the effective thermal conductivity of the composites. Therefore, it can be expected that the thermal conductivity of CNT contained nanofluids would be affected by the pretreatment process.

Figure 6 shows the dependence of the thermal conductivity enhancement on the ball milling time of CNTs suspended in the nanofluids [48]. From theoretical prediction, the thermal conductivity of a composite increases with the aspect ratio of the included solid particles [49-51]. Intuition suggests that increasing the milling time should therefore decrease (k0)/k0 because of the reduced aspect ratio. Figure 6, however, shows clear peak and valley values in the thermal conductivity enhancement with respect to the milling time for all the studied CNT loadings. For nanofluid at a volume fraction of 0.01, the thermal conductivity enhancements present a peak value of 27.5% and a valley value of 10.4% when the milling times are 10 and 28 h, respectively. The maximal enhancement is intriguingly more than two and half times as the minimal one. Interestingly, when further increased the milling time from 28 to 38 h, (k0)/k0 increases from the valley value of 10.4 to 12.8%. Though the increment is not pronounced, it illustrates a difference in tendency from that in the milling time range from 10 to 28 h. Temperature-dependent thermal conductivity enhancement data further indicate that, at all the measured temperatures, nanofluid with CNTs milled for 10 h has the largest increment in thermal conductivity. Glory et al. [52] reported that the enhancement of the thermal conductivity noticeably increases when the nanotube aspect ratio increases. However, the thermal conductivity enhancement behavior of our CNT nanofluid is very different and cannot be explained only by the effect of the aspect ratio.

Figure 6. Dependence of the thermal conductivity enhancement on the ball milling time of CNTs suspended in the nanofluids [48].

















The above results suggest other dominant factors that have the influence over the thermal conductivity of the CNT nanofluids. The authors proposed that the nonstraightness and the aggregation would play significantly roles. As is known, the walls of CNTs have similar structure of graphene sheet, and the thermal conductivity of CNTs shows greatly anisotropic behavior. Heat transports substantially quicker through axial direction than through radial direction [53]. For a nonstraight CNT, the high thermal anisotropy of CNTs induces a unique property that individual CNTs are nearly perfect one-dimensional thermal passages with negligibly small heat flux losses during long distance heat conductions [54]. For a nonstraight CNT with length under a two-end temperature difference, the heat flux goes through a curled passage. This CNT can be regarded as an equivalent straight thermal passage with a distance of Le. The same heat flux is conducted between the two ends of this straight passage. Obviously, the equivalent length Le depends on the curvature of the actual nanotube in the nanofluid. A concept, straightness ratio η (η = Le/L), can be adopted to describe the straightness of a curled CNT. The lowest straightness ratio arises when a suspended nanotube forms ring closure [55].

When subjected to ball milling, CNTs were broken and cut short with appropriate average length. The straightness ratio was significantly increased and heat transports more effectively through the CNTs and across the interfaces between the CNT tips and the base fluid, resulting in the highest thermal conductivity enhancement in a nanofluid containing CNTs milled for 10 h. For nanofluids containing relatively straight nanotubes, the influence of the aspect ratio will surpass that of straightness ratio. Therefore, by further treatment on nanotubes with relatively high straightness ratio, the excessive deterioration of the aspect ratio would decrease the thermal conductivity of nanofluids, causing (k0)/k0 decrease from 10 to 28 h. Recent theoretical analysis has revealed that the aggregation of nanoparticle plays a significant role in deciding (k0)/k0 [21]. Percolation effects in the aggregates, as highly conducting nanotubes touch each other in the aggregate, help in increasing the thermal conductivity. Our experiments demonstrate that aggregates are the dominant appearance of CNTs when the ball-milling time is increased to 38 h. The aggregation accounts for the increment of thermal conductivity enhancement when the ball-milling time is increased from 28 to 38 h. This result implies that the positive influence of the aggregation surpasses the negative influence of the aspect ratio deterioration.

pH value

For some nanofluids, the pH values of the suspensions have direct effects on the thermal conductivity enhancement. Figure 7 presents the thermal conductivity enhancement ratios at different pH values [7,40]. The results show that the enhanced thermal conductivity increases with an increase in the difference between the pH value of aqueous suspension and the isoelectric point of Al2O3 particle [7]. When the NPs are dispersed into a base fluid, the overall behavior of the particle-fluid interaction depends on the properties of the particle surface. For Al2O3 particles, the isoelectric point (pHiep) is determined to be 9.2, i.e., the repulsive forces among Al2O3 particles is zero, and Al2O3 particles will coagulate together under this pH value. Therefore, when pH value is equal or close to 9.2, Al2O3 particle suspension is unstable according to DLVO theory [56]. The hydration forces among particles increase with the increasing difference of the pH value of a suspension from the pHiep, which results in the enhanced mobility of NPs in the suspension. The microscopic motions of the particles cause micro-convection that enhances the heat transport process. Wensel’s study showed that the thermal conductivity of nanofluids containing oxide NPs and CNTs with very low percentage loading decreased when the pH value is shifted from 7 to 11.45 under the influence of a strong outside magnetic field [14].

Figure 7. Thermal conductivity enhancement ratios at different pH values: Al2O3-DW [7]; DNP-EG [40].















For DNP-EG nanofluids, it is observed from Figure 7 that the thermal conductivity enhancement increases with pH values in the range of 7.0-8.0. When pH value is above 8.0, there is no obvious relationship between pH value and the thermal conductivity enhancement. In our opinion, the influence of pH value on thermal conductivity is that pH value has a direct effect on the stability of nanofluids. When pH value is below 8.5, the suspension is not very stable, and DNPs are easy to form aggregations. The alkalinity of the solution is helpful to the dispersion and the stability of the nanofluids. In order to verify the above statement, the influence of settlement time on the thermal conductivity enhancement was further investigated. It is found that the thermal conductivity enhancement decreases with elapsed time for DNP-EG nanofluid when pH is 7.0. However, for the stable DNP-EG nanofluids with pH of 8.5, there is no obvious thermal conductivity decrease for 6 months [40].

Surfactant addition

Surfactant addition is an effective way to enhance the stability of nanofluids. Kim’s study revealed that the thermal conductivity decreased rapidly for the instable nanofluids without surfactants after preparation. However, no obvious changes in the thermal conductivity of the nanofluids with sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) as surfactant were observed even after 5-h settlement [57]. Assael et al. investigated the thermal conductivities of the aqueous suspension of CNTs. When Sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) was employed as the dispersant, the maximum thermal conductivity enhancement obtained was 38.0% for a nanofluid with 0.6 vol% CNT loadings [58]. When the surfactant is substituted with hexadecyltrimethyl ammonium bromide (CTAB), the maximum thermal conductivity enhancement obtained was 34.0% for same fraction of CNT loading [26]. Liu et al. reported that the thermal conductivity of carbon nanotube-synthetic engine oil suspensions is higher compared with that of same suspensions without the addition of surfactant. The presence of surfactant as stabilizer has positive effect on the carbon nanotube-synthetic engine oil suspensions[59].

We used cationic gemini surfactants (12-3(4,6)-12,2Br-1) to stabilize water-based MWNT nanofluids. These surfactants were prepared following the process described in [60]. Figure 8presents the thermal conductivity enhancement ratios of the CNT-contained nanofluids with different surfactant concentrations. The volume fraction of the dispersed CNTs is 0.1%. The critical micelle concentration of 12-3-12, 2Br-1 is reported as 9.6 ± 0.3 × 10-4 mol/l [61]. Ten times critical micelle concentration of 12-3-12, 2Br-1 is 0.6 wt%. Solutions of 12-3-12, 2Br-1 with different concentrations (0.6, 1.8, and 3.6 wt% at room temperature) were selected to prepare CNT nanofluids. It is observed that at all the measured temperatures the thermal conductivity enhancement decreases with the surfactant addition. The surfactant added in the nanofluids acts as stabilizer which improves the stability of the CNT nanofluids. However, excess surfactant addition might hinder the improvement of the thermal conductivity enhancement of the nanofluids.

Figure 8. Thermal conductivity enhancement ratios with different surfactant concentrations.
















The effect of the structures of cationic gemini surfactant molecules on the thermal conductivity enhancement is shown in Figure 9. The fractions of the dispersed CNTs and the cationic gemini surfactants is 0.1 vol% and 0.6 wt%, respectively. The spacer chain length of the cationic gemini surfactant increase from 3 methylenes to 6 methylenes. It is seen that the thermal conductivity enhancement ratio increases with the decrease of spacer chain length of cationic gemini surfactant. Zeta potential analysis indicates that the CNT nanofluids stabilized by gemini surfactant with short spacer chain length have better stabilities. Increase of spacer chain length of surfactant might give rise to sediments of CNTs in the nanofluids, resulting in the decrease of thermal conductivity enhancement of the nanofluids.

Figure 9. Effect of surfactant structures on the thermal conductivity enhancement ratio.


















Nanofluids have great potential for heat transfer enhancement and are highly suited to application in practical heat transfer processes. This provides promising ways for engineers to develop highly compact and effective heat transfer equipments. More and more researchers have paid their attention to this exciting field. When addressing the thermal conductivity of nanofluids, it is foremost important to guarantee the accuracy in the measurement of the thermal conductivity of nanofluids. Two aspects should be considered. The first one is to prepare homogeneous and long-term stable nanofluids. The second one is to keep the initial equilibrium before measuring the thermal conductivity. In general, the thermal conductivity enhancement increases monotonously with the particle loading. The effect of temperature on the thermal conductivity enhancement ratio is somewhat different for different nanofluids. It is very important to note that the temperatures of the base fluid and the nanofluid should be the same while comparing the thermal conductivities between them. With an increase in the thermal conductivity of the base fluid, the thermal conductivity enhancement ratio decreases. Considering the effect of the size of the inclusion, there exists an optimal value for alumina nanofluids, while for the CNT nanofluid, the thermal conductivity increases with a decrease of the average diameter of the included CNTs. The thermal characteristics of nanofluids might be manipulated by means of controlling the morphology of the inclusions, which also provide a promising way to conduct investigation on the mechanism of heat transfer in nanofluids. The additives like acid, base, or surfactant play considerable roles on the thermal conductivity enhancement of nanofluids.


CNTs: carbon nanotubes; DNPs: diamond NPs; DW: deionized water; DWNTs: double-walled CNTs; EG: ethylene glycol; KOH: potassium hydroxide; LP: liquid paraffin; MWNTs: multi-walled CNTs; NPs: nanoparticles; PVP: poly(vinylpyrrolidone); SDS: sodium dodecyl sulfate; SHW: short hot wire; SSA: specific surface area; SWNTs: single-walled CNTs; THW: transient hot wire; TCNTs: treated CNTs.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

HQ supervised and participated all the studies. He wrote this paper. WY carried out the studies on the nanofluids containing copper nanoparticles, graphene, diamond nanoparticles, and several kinds of oxide nanoparticles. YL carried out the studies on the nanofluids containing other oxide nanoparticles. LF carried out the studies on the nanofluids containing carbon nanotubes.


This study was supported by the National Science Foundation of China (50876058), Program for New Century Excellent Talents in University (NCET-10-883), and the Program for Professor of Special Appointment (Eastern Scholar) at Shanghai Institutions of Higher Learning.


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Huaqing Xie*Wei YuYang Li and Lifei Chen

Author Affiliations

School of Urban Development and Environmental Engineering, Shanghai Second Polytechnic University, Shanghai 201209, China

For all author emails, please log on.

Nanoscale Research Letters 2011, 6:124 doi:10.1186/1556-276X-6-124

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:


Received: 3 September 2010
Accepted: 9 February 2011
Published: 9 February 2011


© 2011 Xie et al; licensee Springer.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Categories : Science and Industry Updates

Testing Fountain Solution Conductivity –

Posted by 1 Apr, 2013

Tweet WHY TEST FOUNTAIN SOLUTIONS? Accurate fountain (dampening) solution concentration control is essential for consistent, high-quality results in lithography. Low concentration can cause drying on the non-image area of the plate resulting in tinting, scumming, blanket piling, etc. High concentrations, on the other hand, bring about over-emulsification of the ink. This results in weakening of […]


Accurate fountain (dampening) solution concentration control is essential for consistent, high-quality results in lithography. Low concentration can cause drying on the non-image area of the plate resulting in tinting, scumming, blanket piling, etc. High concentrations, on the other hand, bring about over-emulsification of the ink. This results in weakening of color strength and changes in ink rheology (body and flow properties). Correct concentration will allow the non-image areas of the plate to be appropriately wetted.


Traditionally, pH was the test relied on to determine fountain solution concentration. Today, however, conductivity testing is recognized as a much more accurate method. Many modern dampening solutions are pH stabilized (or buffered), so only small changes in pH are seen even when dramatic changes occur in solution strength. Conductivity measurement is a fast and easy test which is more indicative of fountain solution concentration than pH. This is true for all neutral, alkaline, and many acid type solutions.

pH is still important, however, with unbuffered acid fountain solutions. Checking both conductivity and pH can provide valuable information. Acid fountain solution is a mixture of gum arabic, wetting agents, salts, acids, buffers, etc. Conductivity will tell you if the proper amount of most ingredients are present, but pH is necessary to check acid concentrations. pH will also determine how effective one ingredient, gum arabic, will be.


What is conductivity? Conductivity is the measurement of a solution’s ability to conduct an electrical current. It is usually expressed in microsiemens (micromhos). Absolutely pure water is actually a poor electrical conductor. It is the substances dissolved in water which determine how conductive the solution will be. Therefore, conductivity is an excellent indicator of solution strength.

To properly measure the conductivity of fountain solutions:

1.   Test and write down the conductivity of the water used to prepare the solution.

  1. Mix the fountain solution concentrate with the water, using the manufacturer’s recommendations or as experience dictates.
  2. Measure the conductivity of the mixed solution.
  3. Subtract the water conductivity value obtained in step 1. This is necessary because tap water quality can change from day to day.

The resulting number is an accurate indicator of fountain solution strength. Caution: because alcohol will lower a solution’s conductivity, always test solution conductivity before and after the addition of alcohol.

Determining the best concentration of fountain solution is mostly “trial and error.” It can be very useful to make a graph, recording readings for every one-half or one ounce of concentrate added to a gallon of water. Record readings on a graph with the vertical axis representing conductivity values and the horizontal axis representing ounces/gallon. Such a graph will help “fine tune” your system during future press runs.

For “on the spot” fountain solution tests, Myron L handheld instruments are fast, accurate, and reliable. Measurements are made in seconds simply by pouring a small sample of solution into the instrument cell cup and pressing a button. Automatic temperature compensated accuracy and famous Myron L reliability have made our instruments popular in pressrooms worldwide.


Even though pH usually is not the best method to check the concentration of fountain solution, it is still very important and must be checked regularly. The pH of acid dampening solution affects sensitivity, plate-life, ink-drying, etc. Also, pH can change during a run if the paper has a high acid or alkaline content. pH, therefore, must be maintained at the proper level for good printing.

A convenient and accurate way to test pH (as well as temperature) is Myron L’s waterproof Ultrameter II™ Model 6PFCE or TechPro II™ TH1. The 6PFCE has a 100 reading memory and the TH1 has a 20 reading memory to store test results on site. The 6P also measures conductivity. All electrodes are contained in the cell cup for protection. Model M6/PH also measures pH and conductivity.


 For continuous monitoring and/or control of fountain solution concentration, Myron L offers a complete series of in-line conductivity instruments. These economical, accurate, and reliable models use a remotely installed sensor and a panel/wall mount meter enclosure. Most contain an adjustable set point and heavy duty relay circuit which can be used to activate alarms, valves, feedpumps, etc. All models contain a 0-10 VDC output for a chart recorder or PLC (SCADA) input, if required, (4-20 mA output is also available).

The 750 Series II with dual set point option has become quite popular in pressrooms. The two set points allow a “safe zone” for controlling fountain solution concentration.


Ultrameter II 6PFCE, 512M5 and M6/PH are available with the useful LITHO-KIT™. This accessory includes a foam-lined, rugged all-plastic carry case with calibrating solutions and buffers. In addition, a syringe to simplify drawing samples and a thermometer for testing fountain solution temperature are also included.




Improperly mixed fountain solution Carefully follow manufacturer’s directions, checking both water and mixed solution with a conductivity instrument Ultrameter 4PII, 6PIIFCE and 9PTK; ULTRAPEN PT1; and TechPro II TPH1 or TP1 all test 0-9999 ppm TDS or microsiemens conductivity, and temperature. 512M5 por- table DS Meter™ with a 0-5000 microsiemens conductivity range.
Halftones sharpen and highlight dots lost during run Check pH of fountain solution to determine if it’s too acidic Ultrameter 4PII, 6PIIFCE and 9PTK; ULTRAPEN PT2; and TechPro II TH1.M6/PH portable pDS Meter. Ranges: 0-5000 microsiemens and 2-12 pH.
Reverse osmosis water treatment system monitor indicates membrane failure Test RO water quality and verify in-line instrument accuracy Ultrameter 4PII, 6PIIFCE  and 9PTK; ULTRAPEN PT1; and TechPro II TPH1 or TP1 all test 0-9999 ppm TDS or microsiemens conductivity, and temperature.
Scum streaks across plate after 10,000 – 20,000impressions Check acid/gum levels infountain solution Ultrameter 6PIIFCE and 9PTK; ULTRAPEN PT2; and TechPro II TH1.M6/PH portable pDS Meter. Ranges: 0-5000 microsiemens and 2-12 pH.
Personnel unable to test fountain solution concentration Continuously control fountain solution with conductivity Monitor/controller 758II-123 (0-5000 µS) in-lineMonitor/controller.

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