Rusting of Metals

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Introduction

Corrosion (rust) is one of the problems that cost industries million of dollars every year. To prevent this high cost, companies must understand this natural process and how to prevent it. To save money companies try not to use pure metals. There are not many metals found in their pure state. An example of a pure metal would be gold. Most metals are mined as ores. Ores are oxides. When pulling the oxygen out of the ore, applying energy and heat, it creates a pure metal. For example, if heat and energy are applied to an iron ore or iron oxide it becomes iron. This chemical reaction is called reduction. Reduction is when a substance gains an electron. When a substance loses an electron, it is called oxidation. When a metal, specifically iron, is able to recombine with oxygen it becomes an iron oxide or iron ore once again. When iron oxidizes, it corrodes in to the familiar brownish red color called rust. In other words, corrosion is an iron or metal attempting to return to its original or natural state. Most companies use iron to build bridges, buildings, etc. The different types of iron used include: cast iron or wrought iron. Cast iron is an iron alloy that contains 2-4% carbon, and 1-3% silicon. Wrought iron is practically a pure metal, which can resist corrosion better than cast iron. I chose this experiment because of the amount of rusting I see all around us. Many of the buildings that we visit are made of iron or steel. It always made me think of how the builders prevent rusting from happening so that these buildings don’t fall apart. Protecting the exposed metal is the answer!
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