Evaluation of metal-based structures has long relied on atmospheric exposure test sites to determine corrosion resistance in marine environments. Traditional accelerated corrosion testing relies on mimicking the exposure conditions, often incorporating salt spray and ultraviolet (UV) radiation, and exposing the metal to continuous or cyclic conditions of the corrosive environment. Their success for correlation to atmospheric exposure is often a concern when determining the timescale to which the accelerated tests can be related. Accelerated laboratory testing, which often focuses on the electrochemical reactions that occur during corrosion conditions, has yet to be universally accepted as a useful tool in predicting the long term service life of a metal despite its ability to rapidly induce corrosion. Although visual and mass loss methods of evaluating corrosion are the standard and their use is imperative, a method that correlates timescales from atmospheric exposure to accelerated testing would be very valuable. This work uses surface chemistry and electrochemical techniques to interpret the chemical changes occurring on low carbon and stainless steel during atmospheric and accelerated corrosion conditions with the objective of finding a correlation between its accelerated and long-term corrosion performance. The initial results of correlating data from marine atmospheric exposure conditions at the Kennedy Space Center beachside corrosion test site, alternating seawater spray, and immersion in typical electrochemical laboratory conditions, will be presented.
Key words: atmospheric exposure, accelerated corrosion testing, alternating seawater spray, electrochemistry, marine, correlation, seawater, carbon steel, 304 stainless steel, long-term corrosion performance prediction, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy.