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American Institute of Physics



Book Review

Corrosion of Metals: Physicochemical Principles and Current Problems
Helmut Kaesche
Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg, New York, 2003
594 pp.
ISBN 3-540-00626-5

Reviewed by Edward J. Bawolek

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Corrosion of MaterialsCorrosion of Metals: Physicochemical Principles and Current Problems is a revision and translation into English of Die Korrosion der Metalle—Physikalisch-chemische Prinzipien und aktuelle Probleme, by Helmut Kaesche. The original German edition was published in 1966 and saw two more editions, updating and supplementing the original, before being translated into English.

Any database search for texts on metallic corrosion theory and engineering will result in a daunting number of available selections. Rather than attempt comparison of this work with the entire field, this review will primarily evaluate the text against its stated objective, namely, to provide a comprehensive introduction to corrosion science. In particular, the subject of interest is aqueous corrosion (wet corrosion), avoiding the actions of organic solvents and corrosion by liquid metals. The author correctly categorizes these as too specialized for inclusion in this work. Two topics of more widespread importance to practical corrosion engineering not covered by this work are high-temperature dry oxidation and erosion corrosion.

The work is logically organized, with initial chapters presenting thermodynamics, electrolytic mechanisms, and kinetics of corrosion mechanisms. These provide a solid foundation for the subsequent presentations, and the material meets the author’s objective of giving sufficient background to spare the reader the need to refer to other literature or manuscripts.

The principal corrosion topics treated by most engineering texts are also explicitly addressed in subsequent chapters, including uniform attack, galvanic corrosion, pitting, and stress corrosion. Crevice corrosion, sometimes treated as a separate topic by other texts, is addressed in the context of pitting corrosion, and selective leaching is discussed within the subject of corrosion of homogeneous alloys. Hydrogen embrittlement, sometimes considered a subtopic of stress corrosion, is given a separate, although brief, chapter. Passivity is accorded its own substantive chapter.

The text nicely merges an in-depth presentation of theory with reference to commonly used alloy systems. Thus, the reader will not only learn the general aspects of stress corrosion but also be exposed to specific discussions of irons and steels (e.g., mild, high strength, stainless), titanium alloys (Ti-6Al-4V and Ti-8Al-1Mo-1V), and aluminum alloys (AlZnMg and AlCu). Hydrogen embrittlement, pitting corrosion, and other topic chapters incorporate similar examples of specific alloy systems having practical significance.

References are introduced by chapter, and the citations span the spectrum from the historical literature to the recent. Kaesche has provided ample opportunity for the serious reader to study the subjects in greater depth.

This text is a solid addition to the library of both the practicing engineer and the researcher who desire a deeper treatment of the subject matter than is typically found in books dealing with corrosion from the engineering perspective. The text provides the insight into reaction mechanisms and kinetics essential to extend the reader’s knowledge from the cursory to the fundamental. Thus, Corrosion of Metals will be useful to the engineer who needs to address a corrosion problem from first principles. Nevertheless, the work is not a replacement for handbooks that present corrosion with industry- and topic-specific perspectives such as chemical, petroleum, aerospace, and nuclear applications, dental and human prosthetics, or categorization by alloy system. The text is also not a substitute for books addressing corrosion control as their primary topic.

Corrosion of Metals is not explicitly written as an educational textbook; it lacks problems and exercises. The depth and breadth of the material, as well as the extensive references, however, make this an appropriate adjunct or even primary text in a senior-level or graduate course on the subject.

The author’s concern, as expressed in the preface, about the acceptability of the translation and formatting are unnecessary. The quality of both is quite high and should easily meet the expectations of the discerning reader.

Edward J. Bawolek is president of Trancendant Inc., a U.S. patent agent, and a professional engineer in Arizona, where he consults in the areas of materials, optics, circuit design, and intellectual property. He holds professional registration in both metallurgical and electrical engineering.