Global Cost of Corrosion Tops US$2.5 Trillion
Ian Wright posted on March 08, 2016 |
New study estimates corrosion management best practices could save US$375-875 billion.

A recent study entitled International Measures of Prevention, Application and Economics of Corrosion Technology (IMPACT) estimates the global cost of corrosion at US$2.5 trillion. This is equivalent to approximately 3.4 percent of global GDP.

The two-year study assessed corrosion management practices in the oil and gas, pipeline, drinking and wastewater industries, as well as the US Department of Defense. In addition, it includes a case study of the automotive industry as a success story for corrosion management.

Corrosion in the Auto Industry

In 1975, the annual cost of corrosion for the auto industry was estimated at US$6.0 billion which, adjusted for inflation, is equivalent to US$18.6 billion in 1999. However, as a result of the auto industry’s improvements in corrosion management, the annual cost of corrosion in 1999 was estimated at only US$9.0 billion, a savings of $9.6 billion annually.

“Looking at the success within the auto industry, corrosion prevention decisions were made at the highest levels,” said Bob Chalker, CEO of NACE International, the organization of corrosion engineers which conducted the study. “The result has been lower corrosion costs for auto makers and longer lasting autos for consumers.”

Improving Corrosion Management Practices

Corrosion management systems (CMS) address corrosion threats for existing and future assets from design to decommissioning. The study notes CMS best practices for companies, including:

  • Integrating CMS with overall organization policies
  • Making corrosion management information available to everyone in the organization and linking it to an organization’s goals
  • Actively involving organizational leadership in corrosion management decision making

The study also identified the need for more corrosion management professionals, given a predicted wave of retirements in this area over the next decade.

Currently, the University of Akron is the only institution to provide a bachelor’s degree in corrosion engineering, and its first class only graduated in 2015. More education options are clearly needed.

“The IMPACT study reinforces what recent news headlines have made all too clear: there needs to be a change in how corrosion decisions are made,” said Chalker. “Whether it is a pipeline, an airplane, a water treatment plant or highway bridge, corrosion prevention and control is essential to avoiding catastrophic events before it’s too late.”

The study was released at the CORROSION 2016 conference in Vancouver, B.C.

To view it for free online, visit the NACE website.

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