Corrosion Inhibition in Acidic Environments: Key Interfacial Insights with Photoelectron Spectroscopy

Kiran Kousar, Michael Dowhyj, Monika Walczak, Thomas Ljungdahl, Alexander Wetzel, Hans Oskarsson, Alex Walton, Paolo Restuccia, Nicholas Harrison, Robert Lindsay

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In many engineering scenarios, surface-active organic species are added to acidic solutions to inhibit the corrosion of metallic components. Given suitable selection, such corrosion inhibitors are highly effective, preventing significant degradation even in highly aggressive environments. Nevertheless, there are still considerable gaps in fundamental knowledge of corrosion inhibitor functionality, severely restricting rational development. Here, we demonstrate the capability of X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), supported by ab initio modelling, for revealing key details of inhibited substrates. Attention is focussed on the corrosion inhibition of carbon steel through the addition of an exemplar imidazoline-based corrosion inhibitor (OMID) to aqueous solutions of both HCl and H2SO4. Most notably, it is demonstrated that interfacial chemistry varies with the identity of the acid. High resolution Fe 2p, O 1s, N 1s, and Cl 2p XPS spectra, acquired from well-inhibited carbon steel in 1 M HCl, show that there are two different singly protonated OMID species bound directly to the metallic carbon steel substrate. In sharp contrast, in 0.01 M H2SO4, OMID adsorbs onto an ultra-thin surface film, composed primarily of a ferric sulfate (Fe2(SO4)3)-like phase. Such insight is essential to efforts to develop a mechanistic description of corrosion inhibitor functionality, as well as knowledge-based identification of next generation corrosion inhibitors.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFaraday Discussions
Early online date6 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jan 2022


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