In less than two centuries, aluminum has become one of the most popular metals; one that is applicable in virtually every aspect of our lives.

Marine applications are fond of the metal due to its corrosion resistance, affordability, and other irresistible attributes. Aluminum meets most thresholds for usage in the punishing environments of the sea.

Given the intricacies of applications in the marine environment, many may wonder just how such a simple metal such as aluminum suits the environment. It is therefore worthwhile to review this convergence – marine aluminum and the sea. That’s what this post is about, including the role FONNOV Aluminum in furthering the capabilities of marine-grade aluminum extrusions.

Not many metals can match the blend of versatility, strength, and durability of aluminum in the construction business. The metal is not even freely available but rather is derived from bauxite. That has not stopped industries from seeking and using it extensively, the marine industry included. Some of the benefits accrued from marine-grade aluminum extrusion are:

High Strength-To-Weight Ratio

Marine aluminum extrusion is extremely relevant for this application, first because of its high strength-to-weight ratio. Aluminum can match the strength of steel at merely a third of the metal’s weight! For the general construction industry, this is an extremely valuable attribute.

High Corrosion Resistance

Another factor that suits aluminum for the marine industry is the high corrosion resistance coupled with unmatched durability. Aluminum alloys are perfect for the marine environment because they are corrosion resistant – they are unaffected by atmospheric corrosion in these environments.

If the conditions are very alkaline or acidic, there will be homogenous oxidation. The stability and toughness of the oxide layer so formed will depend on the alloy components, the metal structural properties, and the ambient conditions.

Other Benefits

  • Compatibility with many fabrication process
  • Cost-effective
  • Recyclable
  • Available in many forms/profiles

These characteristics make marine aluminum a top choice for marine products. At FONNOV Aluminum, our marine-grade aluminum extrusions and other products offer the qualities to make your marine projects a success.

 

Note that there is a phenomenon called intergranular and exfoliation corrosion that affects aluminum alloys when the magnesium content exceeds 3%. Up to this percentage, the strength of the alloy increases with the magnesium content. This special corrosion happens at this point and exhibits as formation of stress along the grain boundaries of the metal.

The Corrosion Threat in Marine Environments

You may wonder just how serious the corrosion challenge is big for marine activities. Marine corrosion is a serious problem because prolonged exposure to these conditions can damage almost everything, even the toughest metals. For a marine vessel, nothing is as concerning as this corrosive nature. The phenomenon can reach slowly reach the wiring and other critical components of the vessel and cause havoc.

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In the yesteryears, the concern was mostly about barnacles that would attach to the hulls and cause untold damage. Today’s worry is the economic impact corrosion would have on a project. Ships take years to manufacture and are extremely expensive. Marine vessels are expected to interact with all forms of chemical, biological, and physical environments, and remain unaffected.

Corrosion is a common problem on marine vessels that are poorly designed and maintained. A vessel rusting away has to be one of the most distressing sights in the marine business. The best prevention strategy against such scenarios is first, using the right material, and second, proper maintenance.

More on Factors Promoting Corrosion

Several factors would enhance or promote the corrosion of marine vessels. The most prominent one is the electrochemical reactions that happen in these environments. Seawater is a natural electrolyte that forms the basis for electrochemical processes.

When different ship metals connect via the electrolyte, electrochemical reactions are bound to take place. The interaction between the sea and marine vessels leads to the formation of a galvanic cell, and consequent galvanic corrosion.

Temperature is another determiner of how fast or serious the corrosion process becomes in the sea. Higher temperatures accelerate the process because chemical reactions are faster at those temperatures.

Corrosion also relies on moisture and oxygen content, both of which are in plenty at the sea. This combination reacts with the metal surface of the vessel, triggering the corrosion process.

Strategies to Prevent or Reduce Corrosion

Proper Monitoring

Good aluminum products for maritime use may be effective in controlling corrosion aluminum, but it’s good to monitor the triggering factors. These include the temperature, salinity levels, and concentration of pollution. Monitoring these conditions adequately helps craft the right maintenance strategies.

Design Measures

Shipbuilding using design approaches that minimize or prevent corrosion can present benefits that last for many years. Cathode-based protection designs fit in this intervention and so is the use of the right drainage system for the vessel.

Crew Training

Ensuring that the ship crew is well-educated regarding vessel maintenance can contribute to the long-term and general well-being of the vessel. Users should be aware of not only factors contributing to corrosion aluminum in marine but also the best practices and means of identifying a problem early.

Material Choice

To prevent and control corrosion on marine vessels, you want to use effective maintenance measures. One of them is the use of the right material for vessel building. Using corrosion-resistant materials on the vessels can adequately take care of the problem. Aluminum alloys are popular options for use in corrosion-prone areas.

Popular Marine Grade Aluminum Options

Various marine-grade aluminum alloys have suitable properties for use in the harsh marine environment. Magnesium and silicon are the primary alloying elements for these metals.

However, you will note that these aluminum varieties for marine present different properties because of their unique alloying materials. For instance, aluminum 6061 has excellent workability while 5052 alloy presents superior fatigue strength.

These metal alloys are primarily used on marine vessels, but they can also build structures around the sea such as ladders, docks, and tanks. However, don’t expect the aluminum alloys to build submarines – the compression forces underneath the water surface are simply too much for aluminum.

Here are the leading alloys for corrosion aluminum in marine:

Al-Mg-Si Alloys 6XXX: These alloys include 6061 and 6063 aluminum. They are renowned for not only their corrosion resistance but also their capability for heat treatment and extrusion. The alloys are also strong and, therefore suitable for both interior and exterior designs of the marine vessels. Don’t forget that this is the go-to aluminum alloy if aesthetics are a priority for your project.

Al-Mg alloys 5XXX: The alloys 5052 and 5083 belong to this category. As is desired of materials for marine use, these alloys are corrosion resistant. Other characteristics of this class of alloys are poor casting capability and non-heat treatability.

The first two categories – 6000-series and 5000-series – are the best in terms of corrosion resistance.

Aluminum Innovations and the Future of Corrosion Prevention

There is no doubt that aluminum is receiving increased attention given its application in marine designs. More companies are appreciating the uniqueness of this metal, and thus leading in innovations towards better use of the metal.

For the longest time, engineers attending school have been taught a lot about composites and steel. Not much attention was spared to aluminum as a reliable marine material. We consider this a lost opportunity for the industry because there many possible instances of innovative use of aluminum.

A lot of research is ongoing regarding the phenomenon of corrosion aluminum in marine. According to the Anti-Corrosion Methods and Materials (ACMM) journal, there is continual research towards solutions for the following:

  • Materials selection
  • Corrosion prevention techniques
  • Better corrosion inhibitors
  • Corrosion in marine and other specific areas
  • Surface treatments, paints, and coatings
  • Bio-related corrosion

FONNOV Aluminum for Best Marine Grade Aluminum Extrusions

FONNOV Aluminum provides marine aluminum extrusion in different forms including tubes, extrusions, and bars. We manufacture these products to be suitable for demanding marine applications in terms of corrosion resistance, high strength-to-weight ratio, and compatibility with manufacturing processes – CNC machining, cutting, and so on.

We are a certified manufacturer and supplier of quality aluminum alloy products for marine and other industries. If you are looking for value-added services, we are excited to offer that too. Search no more for CNC machining, coating, polishing, perforating, and anodizing, among all the other popular value-added services for marine aluminum.

In Conclusion

The modern marine industry would struggle without marine-grade aluminum. The material is extremely popular in marine construction, producing some breathtaking structures. Not many metals can match the durability, versatility, corrosion resistance, and affordability of this metal.

It is thus not surprising that marine aluminum is still growing in popularity, as it is heavily relied on for the many structure types in the industry.

At FONNOV Aluminum, we have a busy manufacturing plant that help us serve our marine aluminum clientele across the globe flawlessly.

For marine-grade aluminum selection and delivery arrangements, call us today.

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