This paper has been adapted from Corrosion & Prevention 2010 Paper 116.   Links to external sites have been checked and where  the information is no longer available or the link is broken the site and info have been struck out.  Featured image from

Dr. Ilker Adiguzel
Vincent F. Hock
Michael K. McInerney
Heather Johnson


The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has declared a war on corrosion because its
effects continue to require billions of dollars of expense and threaten the military’s readiness to
respond to missions around the world, often in harsh environments. Military leaders and governments are recognizing the problem and directing important resources to the battle. It is up to corrosion experts like the research team at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center– Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (ERDC-CERL) to continue to develop the technology, test the technology, and share the tested solutions worldwide.
The new Data Exchange Agreement between the United States and Australia is a recent formalization of that kind of sharing. It will become incumbent on military procurement policies to favor life-cycle costs over first costs in order to encourage long-term corrosion protection and prevention. The future outcome of the war on corrosion will require sustained commitment, education, and communication among other factors for success.

1. Introduction

The effect of corrosion on the assets of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) presents a large challenge to military planners and corrosion experts. DoD assets are numerous, of varied materials, and scattered throughout the world. In addition, today’s military is expected to deploy on very short notice to locations that can be complicated by environments with freezing cold or blazing hot temperatures, blowing dust or sand, and moist conditions via actual water or high humidity. At the same time, because the military is not engaged in a major world conflict, its assets have aged, especially in areas of infrastructure.
The military simply is not procuring new facilities and equipment with the frequency it did during the build-up for World War II more than 60 years ago.
Still, mission readiness requires that all vehicles, equipment, and weapons are in top working form to protect personnel’s safety and well being, both before and during deployment. In addition to safety concerns, the effects of corrosion will increase repair time and subsequently increase the downtime of assets when they may be in critical demand. In that case, there are two costs – the cost of repairs and the cost of downtime – that are attributable to corrosion. The effects of corrosion can be obvious, such as exterior rust on a vehicle, but they also can be hidden, as in damage that interferes with electrical circuit contact.

2. Background

The effects of corrosion on asset readiness, together with the fact that the U.S. Congress mandated a corrosion prevention focus in 2002, means that the DoD has declared a war on corrosion. In fact, it used those actual terms in developing a video titled, “In Focus: The War on Corrosion,” under the supervision of Daniel J. Dunmire, Director of the DoD Corrosion Policy and Oversight Office, who first presented the full DVD at the 2007 Tri-Service Corrosion Conference.
A four minute segment is available from the DoD Corrosion Exchange Web site at (click on “reference library” tab and choose a video from the drop-down menu in the upper left of your screen). As part of the declared war, these entertainment-style videos are an attempt to bring the corrosion message to the public’s attention, too.

2.1 Costs of Corrosion

Various studies have been conducted in an attempt to capture the dollar costs of corrosion to the DoD. The total annual costs of corrosion for facilities/infrastructure and equipment are estimated between $9 billion (Kinzie and Jett 2003) to $20 billion (Koch, et al. 2001). Mr. Dunmire has said that corrosion costs the DoD $15 billion annually. In a more focused top-down and bottom-up approach to just the areas of facilities and infrastructure, Herzberg, et al. (2007) derived an estimate
of $1.77 billion annually. In all estimates, regardless of type, it is obvious that the dollar costs are substantial. The costs of failure due to corrosion also are high in terms of mission readiness. Will the fuel supply be compromised or will the gun fire when needed? Those are just two of the many instances in which corrosion could negatively impact mission readiness,
even to the point of life-and-death consequences, because military assets are not in place or operational when needed.

The DoD has recognized its responsibility to make corrosion protection and control (CPC) a priority and it realizes that aggressive action now will prevent even higher costs in the future. As Dunmire has pointed out, the goal is to move from downstream reaction to upfront action. To do this, DoD officials have been advised that there are five major areas to address: (1) leadership commitment and policy, (2) design and manufacturing practices, (3) maintenance practices, (4) funding and management priorities, and (5) discovering the scientific basis for prevention and mitigation of corrosion A second policy shift is recommending the DoD take various steps to provide standards and metrics that will allow databased decision making (Defense Science Board 2004, p iv). The DoD also is working to rectify a criticism leveled by the Government Accounting Office (GAO) that its corrosion efforts are being hampered by the redundancy of multiple corrosion management offices that, along with their varying policies, can limit coordination of efforts and knowledge.

2.2 DoD Actions to Fight Corrosion

DoD officials have long realized the value of sharing best practices with military counterparts. For instance, an amendment to a 1962 agreement between both countries (to exchange data on the development of military weapons) was signed on January 12, 2010 between the United States and Australia. The new Data Exchange Agreement (DEA) was created to share unclassified information between the DoD and the Australian Ministry of Defence in order to advance corrosion-related science and technology efforts. The two countries have agreed to exchange: (a) specific technical information associated with CPC technologies that are common to military weapons systems and facilities, (b) test methodologies and results, (c) policy and strategies, (d) current practices, and (e) training information.

Another key to more effective CPC is for the DoD to take a life-cycle approach to the problem. Research has now shown there is an opportunity to reduce corrosion at every stage including design, material selection, construction, operation, and maintenance and making such assessments is the best way to make significant CPC improvement possible. The original military procurement system incentivized minimum acquisition cost rather than minimum life-cycle cost. However, a move to reward minimum life-cycle cost is a better long-term solution to minimize corrosion costs for the long-term.
As evidence of its commitment to the life-cycle approach and its decision to provide guidance to all service branches, the DoD has developed a multi-volume guidebook: The DOD Corrosion Prevention and Control Planning Guidebook ( This document provides detailed guidance to develop and implement a CPC
Program for all DoD weapon systems and infrastructure components. It includes corrosion-related policy, management planning, and technical and design considerations that should be addressed for a viable outcome. It puts an emphasis on program and project managers as the group that can greatly influence effective decisions about CPC and directs that CPC measures must be considered for all construction, repair, and maintenance projects regardless of the cost or funding source.

2.3 The Army’s Approach to Corrosion

While ERDC-CERL has worked on CPC solutions for all branches of the U.S. military, its work focuses mainly on the needs of the U.S. Army because it is a research arm of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). The following regulations currently drive the CPC proposals from ERDC-CERL for the U.S. Army:

2.3.1 Army Regulation 420-1 Army Facilities Management
This is the main Army regulation (AR) that addresses the management of Army facilities. Within this regulation is the Army’s long-term strategy to minimize the effects of corrosion on its facilities and equipment. In this way, the Army has incorporated CPC as part of the entire facility life cycle, including design, construction, and operation. The principal objectives of the Army’s CPC policy are to:

  • design, construct, and maintain dependable and long-lived structures, equipment, plants, and systems
  • conserve energy and water resources
  • reduce costs due to corrosion, scale, and microbiological fouling
  • ensure compliance with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Transportation, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and other applicable regulations and guidance

2.3.2 Army Regulation 750-59 Army Corrosion Prevention and Control Program

In turn, this regulation prescribes the policies, responsibilities, and procedures for implementing the Army Corrosion Prevention and Control (CPC) Program, the same program for which ERDC-CERL is heavily involved through research support. The document also states that CPC is a “critical consideration in assuring the sustained performance, readiness, economical operation, and service life of Army systems and equipment.”
It expects that CPC will be given active consideration in weapons development and storage. The concept also goes so far as to say that CPC “requires life cycle management planning and action in design, development, testing, fielding, training, and maintenance.”

3. ERDC-CERL research support for CPC

The ERDC-CERL laboratory in Champaign, Illinois, has conducted corrosion science and engineering research for more than 30 years. During that time, projects have developed products and technologies that address infrastructure corrosion in buildings, utility systems, airfields and pavements, and marine environments.

As befits the stronger emphasis, the far-reaching corrosion research and development program at ERDC-CERL is not an isolated project, but currently is a comprehensive $10 million annual program that meets five objectives: (1) reduce lifecycle costs of facilities and infrastructure through corrosion prevention and control, (2) develop policy and guidance on corrosion prevention and mitigation, (3) prioritize science and technology requirements to advance the state of the art of corrosion, (4) ensure that CPC is fully considered throughout the asset life cycle, and (5) provide guidance for improving maintenance and training in corrosion.
As an example of its overall corrosion effort, ERDC-CERL conducted 38 demonstration/validation projects to help mitigate corrosion at Army and DoD facilities from 2005–2008 alone. The Army and Office of Undersecretary of Defense (OSD) have invested $50 million in development, demonstration, and implementation of CPC technologies over the last five years, which in turn has saved over $500 million in corrosion related costs according to a letter to CERL’s CPC project manager from LT GEN Rick Lynch, Asst. Chief of Staff for Installation Management (ACSIM).
There is also a value in transferring this knowledge to the public sector so that developments can be shared worldwide at conferences such as this.

Technology that any ERDC laboratory develops and validates also is made publicly accessible through technical reports and fact sheets, which are available on the Internet at,, and the ERDC library online at ERDC-CERL also incorporates CPC technology into military specifications documents such as Unified Facility Guide Specifications (UFGS), Unified Facility Criteria (UFC), and Army Installation Design Standards (IDS), many of which are available at the Whole Building Design Guide’s Web site,
This extensive corrosion research is visible around the world in a very diverse range of applications including: (1) utilities, piping systems, and above-ground and below-ground storage structures; (2) buildings, including roofing; (3) HVAC systems; (4) roads, airfields, and grounds; (5) bridges and other support structures; (6) piers and other waterfront structures; and (7) munitions storage.
Successful corrosion technologies that were developed or validated by ERDC-CERL during the past 30 years or more include the following products and processes, many of which also involved private industry and/or university research program collaboration.

3.1 Coatings:

  • Life-cycle Coating Evaluation — CERL’s 30-year that is now the industry standard for selection of sheet pile coatings.
  • Blastox® — CERL researchers co-developed a granular compound added to sandblast abrasives being used to remove lead paint that subsequently allows the disposal of lead as a non-hazardous waste.
  • Nano-based Coating Systems – CERL researchers co-developed nano-based corrosion-resistant coating systems based on a primer formulated with single-wall carbon nanotubes and zinc dust.
  • Intumescent Coatings – that are fire-resistant and corrosion-inhibiting; when heated, these coatings form an insulating layer to protect structural steel from damage or failure during a fire.
  • Metalized Coatings – ERDC researchers have developed and specified metalized coatings which resulted in guide specifications for their application on hydraulic structures.
  • Vinyl Paints – An ERDC-CERL laboratory team developed the original vinyl paint systems now used USACE-wide for corrosion protection of flood gates, dams, and hydropower piping and turbines. A new generation of vinyl paint that meets low-VOC regulations is now being evaluated.
  • In Situ Applied Epoxy Coatings – ERDC participated in a demonstration of this technology on various military installations, providing oversight and materials testing to enhance product development.
  • Ceramic Coatings – CERL researchers reformulated and tested a commercial thermal barrier coating in conjunction with an inorganic zinc-rich primer after demonstration proved some of the manufacturer’s information inaccurate. In partnership with the University of Illinois, a thermal conductivity model was developed to interpret experimental data.
  • Self-Healing Coatings – CERL researchers have a patent for self-healing coatings with microcapsules which are put into paint primers at the time of application. When paint is scratched, the microcapsules spill corrosion inhibitors and film formers
  • Anti-Scale Coatings – Research showed the application of anti-scale coatings increased the time between cleanings from 6 months to 3 years and has become a USACE standard.
  • Underfilm Corrosion Rate Sensor – CERL has tested and recommended improvements to a new stamp-size corrosion sensor that measures a coated structure’s corrosion rate by using Linear Polarization Resistance (LPR) technology.


3.2 Cathodic Protection

  • Ceramic-Coated Anode – CERL researchers developed a breakthrough mixed metal oxide (MMO) ceramic-coated anode design as an alternative to silicon-iron and graphite anodes that feature a unique arc-plasma sprayed surface architecture, which makes them the most abrasion-resistant MMO anode available.
  • Remote Monitoring of CP Systems –These “drive-by” monitors were demonstrated at an Army installation and allow the time spent obtaining readings to be reduced from two months to two days.
  • Composite Wrap – ERDC engineers and industry partners are demonstrating a fiberglass-reinforced polymer concrete pile wrap integrated with a galvanic cathodic protection system.

3.3 Chemical Inhibitors

  • Green Chemistry – A treatment system developed for controlling corrosion, scale, and microbiological growth in heating and cooling systems through the use of green chemicals and a smart control system.
  • Non-Chemical Treatment Devices – CERL research promotes the use of non-chemical devices that use a strong electrical field to prevent biological growth and scale. The alkaline water does not corrode cooling components and can be reused as gray water.
  • Disproved Magnetic Descaler Technology – Research proved that the magnetically based scale prevention technology does not work for heating systems including heat exchangers and piping.

3.4 Materials Selection

  •  Corrosion-Resistant Reinforcing Steel – ERDC has developed and pioneered the use of reinforcing steel that is coated with a special glass enamel coating which consists of an inner layer of alkali-resistant glass with a layer of Portland cement fused to the outer surface. This patented coating consistently triples the bond strength between concrete and steel, prevents corrosion of steel, extends life of structure, and reduces costs. It recently earned a coveted R&D 100
  • Composites Containing Carbon Nanotubes – Fabrication and testing of fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) composites proved the addition of nanoclays and carbon nanotubes can reduce the absorption of moisture.
  • Recycled Plastic Lumber –with industry and academic partners, ERDC led development of seven ASTM standard test methods and specifications. These materials have been used in ERDC-led demonstrations for 15 years, the most recent of which was a bridge design that could support an M1 Abrams tank.
  • Polymeric Piles – With Navy researchers, ERDC has conducted laboratory evaluations and demonstration projects using various types of polymeric pilings for marine and waterfront applications, which resulted in an official ASTM standard specification.
  • FRP Composite Bridging –pioneered development of corrosion-resistant FRP composites for highway bridges;
    materials included unique honeycomb designs and pultruded profiles.
  • FRP Composite Prestressing Cables – With Navy and academic partners, ERDC researchers helped develop and demonstrate the use of glass and carbon fiber-reinforced composite cables.
  • FRP Composite Rebar – Again working with university partners, ERDC researchers helped develop and demonstrate the use of FRP composite rebars to replace traditional steel rebars in concrete. These same ERDC researchers helped to develop the American Concrete Institute specifications for the material’s use.
  • High-Strength Alloys –Research that compared 17 emerging stainless steel alloys with carbon and low-alloy steels and was documented in Materials Selection Guide for Civil Works Structures.
  • New Generation Fire Hydrants – A demonstration project that has retrofitted 90 old, corroded fire hydrants at an Army installation with a “no-dig” hydrant device made of corrosion-resistant stainless steel and featuring a valve that can prevent injection of contaminants.
  • Unified Facility Guides – specifications for all aspects of construction from roofs to fencings, tailored for application in highly corrosive environments.

3.5 Novel Processes

  • Electro-Osmotic Pulse (EOP) – An award-winning technology with patented processes that controls the movement of water through low-permeability, porous media such as water and soil by using electro-osmotic pulse and ceramiccoated anode technologies.
  • Acoustic Leak Detection –Leak detection technology for water and fuel distribution systems that included transducer design and accompanying software to differentiate between signal noise and leak signal to discover undetected leaks in direct-buried distribution systems.
  • Soil Stabilization and Dust Control – A low-cost stabilization method that mixes soil, lime, and soda ash solution with glassy waste materials to produce a binder referred to as a “geopolymer” that is strong yet very cost effective and removable when necessary.

3.6 Corrosion Management Systems

  •  Water Distribution Models with Sensors – A complete corrosion detection and management system using a small number of sensors that feed into a SCADA and the resulting “living model” provides a complete and near real-time picture of a water system.
  • Structural Health Monitoring Systems – Providing real-time structural and environmental conditions and warnings to bridge owners on steel truss bridges by incorporating multiple systems that use embedded micro-sensors.
  • Advanced Sensors for Corrosion – A highly innovative sol-gel technology corrosion sensor that incorporates nanotechnologies with embedded micro-electronics for communication.
  • Models to Predict Remaining Life – Predictive models to address corrosion that is not easily visible such as in underground gas pipes (G-PIPER), buried water pipes (W-PIPER), and interior building pipes (SCALER).

4. The future of corrosion prevention and control

The aptly named war on corrosion will continue to be fought on many fronts including research and technology development, education, environmental awareness, communications, and commitment of money and manpower.
In the future, CPC will continue seeking a combination of technologies for greater cost savings – addressing more than one component will be expected for a greater return on investment (ROI). In general, CERL corrosion program researchers know from experience that the Army will not fund a project with less than a 10:1 return on investment (ROI) and actual returns are often much higher.
An example of a technology demonstration that has come about through combining technologies was a demonstration at Kilauea Military Camp, HI, that combined a metal roofing material featuring high-performance coatings with a thin filmlaminated photovoltaic appliqué. The primary benefits of the combination are to provide corrosion resistant sustainable roofs and cheap electric power.
This combination of technologies proved to have a return on investment factor of 20:1, with the initial investment paid back in 1.7 years for this installation.

Another example of combining technologies are green chemical treatment and smart control systems used in heating and cooling systems which have been demonstrated at multiple Army installations. The combined benefits are reduced corrosion and fouling of boilers and cooling towers, greater energy efficiency, and reduced environmental impact. The ROI factor for this technology is 13:1 and the project paid back the initial investment in 2.6 years.
The future will also have a strong educational component at many different levels including universities that institute a bachelor’s program in corrosion engineering and the Army’s training videos and games that put corrosion in the minds of soldiers.
Continuing interest in research and expanding career opportunities that point to corrosion-related work and educating the military forces in best practices for corrosion prevention and control will be keys to future success.

There will also be a strong component in CPC’s future that addresses the environmental impact of corrosion itself and the impact of corrosion prevention technologies. There is a growing need to continue developing science and technology solutions that protect against corrosion without harming the environment, especially when using chemical enhancements or methods that create by-products.

5. Conclusions

The military’s corrosion problem is large in terms of dollars, asset count, and geographic locations. It is not far-fetched to term it, as the DoD already has, as a “war on corrosion.” In all efforts to win this war, there will need to be a shift in from “reactive” to “proactive” thinking. ERDC-CERL’s researchers have proven that the Army can receive a minimum $10 return for every $1 expended on corrosion prevention. Therefore, first thinking of corrosion prevention as a design principal for all new technology and products is a step in the proper direction.

In the ongoing corrosion battles, communication will be critical. There are already many corrosion problems that have answers and also some damaging practices that are still in use. Through technology transfer and sharing with peers and partners, all stakeholders can participate in using proven best practices. Such continued sharing will be invaluable in saving both time and money.
Now and in the foreseeable future, the military’s focus and commitment must remain on winning its war on corrosion or there will be a risk of losing a real war due to lack of readiness or sustainability of troops in the field. Innovative materials,
better methods of investigating causes and consequences, more focus on preventive maintenance and repair techniques, and the type of pro-active mindset that makes corrosion prevention part of the design process will be incumbent upon all involved.

6. References

Herzberg, Eric F., Kristie Bissell, K.W. Crissman, John Dovick, John Hesson, Frank Kaleba, Erica Mallare, Norman
O’Meara, Brian Stevens, and Erica D. Turner. 2007. The annual cost of corrosion for the Department of Defense facilities and Infrastructure. Report SKT50T2. McLean, VA: LMI Government Consulting.
Kinzie, Richard, and Ruth Jett. 2003. DoD cost of corrosion. Unpublished report prepared for the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
Koch, Gerhardus H., Michiel P.H. Brongers, Neil G. Thompson, Y. Paul Virmani, and J.H. Payer. 2001. Corrosion cost
and prevention strategies in the United States. CC Technologies and NACE International in cooperation with the
Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration.
Defense Science Board (Larry Lynn and RADM Stephen Heilman, USN (Ret), co-chairs). 2004. Report on corrosion
control. Washington, DC: Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics.

7. Author details

Dr. Ilker Adiguzel is Director of the Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (CERL) in Champaign, Illinois, USA. As an element of the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC), CERL executes a $90 million annual research budget with 350 employees. Dr. Adiguzel holds both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in Civil Engineering from Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey, and a doctorate in that field from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), Illinois. As a member of the
federal government’s Senior Executive Service, Dr. Adiguzel also has received extensive leadership and management training. He is a founding associate editor and member of the editorial board for the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) journal. He is also a member of various national and international construction societies and serves on the UIUC College of Engineering Advisory

Vincent F. Hock is a Senior Researcher and Technical Advisor for the Materials and Structures Branch at ERDC-CERL. He has been commended by the highest levels of the U.S. Army for his leadership as the former Project Leader for the Corrosion Prevention and Control (CPC) work at CERL. He has led the development of electro-osmotic pulse technology (EOP) for the novel control of water intrusion and corrosion in below-grade structures. A member of the CERL team since 1982, Mr. Hock has won numerous major engineering and technical
achievement awards. He also holds six patents and has five patents pending with the U.S. Patent Office. Mr. Hock received a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia and a master’s degree in Metallurgy from Pennsylvania State University.


Michael K. McInerney is a Senior Researcher and Project Leader for the CPC team at ERDC-CERL. He holds an M.S. degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, as well as B.S. degrees in Electrical Engineering (with honors), Mathematics, and Physics from Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. Employed at CERL since 1984, Mr.
McInerney has been awarded patents, has patents pending, and has received several team awards for work with EOP technology. In 2010, he was named ERDC’s Researcher of the Year for his original research in the field of nondestructuve
technologies (NDT). Mr. McInerney is an active member of the IEEE
Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) Society, a registered professional engineer
in Illinois, and a NARTE-certified EMC engineer.


Heather Johnson is a research assistant at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,
Engineer Research and Development Center – Construction Engineering Research
Laboratory (ERDC-CERL) in Champaign, IL, USA. She is currently working with
the CPC program and also attending Parkland College/University of Illinois,
working toward a degree in Engineering.


The The Australasian Corrosion Association Inc. website is not compatible with Internet Explorer. Please use a modern browser such as Chrome, Firefox, Edge, or Safari for the best experience.