The origin of cathodic protection as a means of controlling corrosion is generally attributed to Sir Humphrey Davy in 1823 involving corrosion of copper sheathing on wooden hulled ships. A nice summary of the history of cathodic protection may be found on the website of West Coast Corrosion Prevention, Ltd.
Today cathodic protection is used to protect metal structures from corrosion. Cathodic protection systems are most commonly used to protect steel, water/fuel pipelines and storage tanks; steel pier piles, ships, offshore oil platforms and onshore oil well casings.
It is the intent here to provide summaries and links to:
Related but possibly more technical articles may be found in the Technical Paper section of the DelWeg.Com Library.
Preserving Building Facade of 17 Century Bank in London
The problem that confronted the bank was that the original iron cramps used to tie the masonry façade together had started to corrode and cause the stone to fracture. This interesting article includes history of the bank, a description of the corrosion problem, of x-ray mapping to locate the problems, and cathodic protection system to correct the problem. The article appears on the HUB website and is copied here.
Preserving Historic Reinforced Concrete
and Steel Framed Structures
According to John Broomfield "Cathodic protection of steel in concrete is a mature technology which is now being applied to structures of historic and architectural importance. It is successfully being applied to early 20 th century steel framed buildings and monuments as well as mid to late 20 th century reinforced concrete structures." In this article, published in The Journal of Corrosion Science and Engineering, Dr. Broomfield discusses CP as applied to Universtiy buildings, New Zealand War Memorial, balcony of a small London historic building, and a small brick office building.
Preserving Plymouth Rock
The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation completed a renovation and restoration of the Plymouth Rock Portico in Plymouth Massachuetts. The 87-year-old Portico, shelters and protects Plymouth Rock, an historic site and popular tourist attraction. Included in the restoration was installation of a solar-powered, cathodic protection system to protect against any future deterioration.
Preserving Historic Bridges
Many bridges throughout the world are classified as historic. The classification is derived as a result of a variety of considerations. Almost all historic bridges are preserved and protected from the ravages of corrosion with the application of cathodic protection. The state of Oregon claims many historic bridges because of their age, beauty, and unique design. Bridges of unique design are being preserved in Hawaii with a program similar to the one in Oregon.
It should not be a surprise to anyone that England is the home of historic bridges. One such structure is BIDEFORD'S Long Bridge in southwest England. The original wood structure built in 1286 was replaced in 1474 with the current masonry bridge. A more complete account of the history of the Long Bridge reveals a number of fascinating details. An extensive Cathodic protection system is a major part of the repair and renovation project being completed in October 2009.
Many WWII ships are either mothballed are have been coverted to memorials. In either case these vessels must be preserved. Many issues are involved in the preservation effort, but of interest here is a cathodic protection system which uses an impressed current to distribute DC power through anodes to the exterior underwater portions of the hull, resulting in an electric field that suppresses corrosion and preserves the surface of the hull.
This article about a leak in the hull of historic battleship USS Missouri Memorial gives only brief mention; ..." if cathodic protection using an electric current is continuing to work." A bit more is presented in this article about the USS Iowa.
On January 7, 2010, an $18 million dollar restoration project for the USS Missouri Memorial was completed. The project included an innovative cathodic protection system with diver-replacable components. An excellent article is available in the May 2010 issue of Materials Performance. Members of NACE may also read the article online.
Preserving the Hunley
In his excellent account titled Raising the Hunley Joseph Flanagan is careful to include the importance of cathodic protection. Flanagan writes "A cathodic protection system-a series of wires running along the tank's interior-emits a current that inhibits corrosion." H. L. Hunley was a submarine of the Confederate States Navy that sank on 17 February 1864 in Charleston Harbor. She was raised 136 years later.
Preserving the Monitor
On August 3, 1861, The United States Navy Department advertised for proposals for ironclad warships. On January 30, 1862 the USS Monitor was launched. On March 9, 1862, the USS Monitor and the Confederate ship the Virginia engage in an indecisive battle lasting more than four hours. On December 31, 1862, The Monitor sank off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, in a severe storm. The Monitor's resting place was a mystery until a team of scientists from Duke University discovered her. The site became the first National Marine Sancuary in 1975 and is administered by NOAA. Many objects from the Monitor have completed the conservation process and are on display at the Mariners' Museum in Norfolk, VA As many as 200 objects are being added to the display each year. Some are displayed here. Electrolytic Reduction (Cathodic Protection) is used to preserve many of these objects. An article in the October, 2007 of Materials Performance details how corrosion engineers from CC Technonogies and scientists from The Mariner's museum use cathodic protection to preserve the artifacts recovered from the Monitor.
Preserving 135 Year Old Lighthouse
After more than 135 years of withstanding extreme wind and weather conditions, the Thomas Point Shoals Lighthouse (TPSL) located on the Chesapeake Bay needed attention to preserve the National Historic Landmark. The Thomas Point Shoals Lighthouse is the only cottage-type screwpile lighthouse still in its original Chesapeake Bay location. See also
Preserving the Dead
Batesville’s basic stainless steel caskets feature the exclusive Cathodic Protection System, a scientific method that inhibits the formation of rust on outer surfaces to extend corrosion resistance by 2.5 times.
Your Car Will Rust
Corrosion-Doctor's experts explain why cathodic protection (sold by various names) cannot prevent rust on your car.
Hot Water Heater
The single most important factor in whether a water heater lives or dies is the condition of its sacrificial anode. For more than 60 years, it has been used as a key part of the rust protection of a tank, although few people know it's there. Read more.