Hydrophobic and superhydrophobic coatings for corrosion protection of steel

University dissertation from Stockholm : KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Abstract: Since metals in general, and steels in particular, are vital construction materials in our modern society, the corrosion protection of said materials is of great importance, both to ensure safety and to reduce costs associated to corrosion. Previously, chromium (VI) and other harmful substances were effectively used to provide corrosion protection to steel, but since their use was heavily regulated around year 2000, no coating has yet been developed that, in a fully satisfactory manner, replaces their corrosion protective properties.In this thesis, the use of hydrophobic and superhydrophobic surface coatings as part of corrosion protective coating systems has been studied. Since the corrosion mechanism relies on the presence of water to take place, the use of a superhydrophobic coating to retard the penetration of water to an underlying metal surface is intuitive. The evaluation of corrosion protective properties of the hydrophobic and superhydrophobic surfaces was performed using mainly contact angle measurements and electrochemical measurements in severely corrosive 3 wt% NaCl water solution.First, the differences in corrosion protection achieved when employing different hydrophobic wetting states were investigated using a model alkyl ketene dimer wax system. It was found that superhydrophobicity in the Lotus state is superior to the other states, when considering fairly short immersion times of less than ten days. This is due to the continuous air film that can form between such a superhydrophobic surface and the electrolyte, which can retard the transport of electrolyte containing corrosive ions to the metal surface to the point where the electrical circuit is broken. Since corrosion cannot occur unless an electrical current is flowing, this is a very efficient way of suppressing corrosion.An air layer on an immersed superhydrophobic surface is, however, not stable over long time, and to investigate long-term corrosion protection using hydrophobic coatings a polydimethylsiloxane formulation containing hydrophobic silica nanoparticles was developed. This system showed enhancement in corrosion protective properties with increasing particles loads, up until the point where the particle load instead causes the coating to crack (at 40 wt%). The conclusion is that the hydrophobicity of the matrix and filler, in combination with the elongatedivdiffusion path supplied by the addition of particles, enhanced the corrosion protection of the underlying substrate.To further understand how hydrophobicity and particle addition affect the corrosion protective properties of a coating a three layer composite coating system was developed. Using this coating system, consisting of a polyester acrylate base coating, covered by TiO2 particles (with diameter < 100 nm) and finally coated with a thin hexamethyl disiloxane coating, it was found that both hydrophobicity and particles are needed to reach a great enhancement in corrosion protective properties also for this system.