WIT Press

Corrosion of historic grey cast irons: indicative rates, significance, and protection


Free (open access)


Volume 8 (2020), Issue 2



Page Range

162 - 174

Paper DOI



© 2020 WIT Press, www.witpress.com


Miroslav Sykora, Katerina Kreislova & Petr Pokorny


In Europe many buildings and machinery in industrial sites are recognised as cultural heritage. These structures, often made from various types of irons or historic steels, have been for decades or centuries exposed to aggressive atmospheric environments and suffered from corrosion attack. The contribution discusses corrosion rates, the effects of corrosion on structural reliability, and the efficiency of surface treatments. The model for corrosion rates of historic metals cannot be based on the degradation model for mild steels even though specific features of historic alloys such as increased content of carbon and different chemical composition would be taken into account. Realistic estimates of corrosion rates need additionally account for different micro-structure with inputs and different surface properties of historic alloys. This is why the presented model is based on a limited experimental data, considering the corrosivity of environnment. The model assumes no corrosion during first seven years of service life and the same type of regression function for the progress period as is provided in ISO 9224 for mild steels and other metals. The effects of repeated applications of paintings are discussed. Four principal strategies to the corrosion protection of industrial heritage structures include ‘leave as it is’, apply temporary protection to reduce degradation progress, apply long term protection, or undertake a complex restoration with replacement of damaged elements. Numerical example indicates that corrosion is normally insignificant for load-bearing iron structures, but may lead to severe problems for thin secondary structural and non-structural members such as railing or decorative elements. The proposed model estimates degradation progress in a mid-term perspective and supports decisions on maintenance of industrial heritage structures.


atmospheric environment, corrosion, cultural heritage, degradation model, historic steel, industrial heritage structure, iron