Istituto di Scienze Marine     
Benedetti A., Magagnin L., Passaretti F., Chelossi E., Faimali M., Montesperelli G. Cathodic protection of carbon steel in natural seawater: effect of sunlight radiation. In: Electrochimica Acta, vol. 54 (26) pp. 6472 - 6478. Elsevier Science, 2009.
Cathodic protection of metals in seawater is known to be influenced by chemical-physical parameters affecting cathodic processes (oxygen discharge, hydrogen evolution and calcareous deposit precipitation). In shallow seawater, these parameters are influenced by sunlight photoperiod and photosynthetic activity. The results presented here represent the first step in studies dedicated to cathodic protection in shallow photic seawater. This paper reports on carbon steel protected at −850 mV vs. Ag/AgCl (oxygen limiting current regime) in the presence of sunlight radiation but in the absence of biological and photosynthetic activity, the role of which deserves future research. Comparison of results obtained by exposing electrochemical cells to daylight cycles in both biologically inactivated natural seawater and in NaCl 3.5 wt.% solutions showed that sunlight affects current densities and that calcareous deposit interfere with light-currents effects. Sunlight radiation and induced heating of the solution have been separated, highlighting results not otherwise obvious: (1) observed current waves concomitant with sunlight radiation depend fundamentally on solar radiation, (2) solar radiation can determine current enhancements from early to late phases of aragonite crystal growth, (3) a three-day-old CaCO3 layer reduces but does not eliminate the amplitude of the current waves. Theoretical calculations for oxygen limiting currents and additional field tests showed that sunlight, rather than bulk solution heating, is the main cause of daily current enhancements. This was confirmed by polarizations performed at −850 and −1000 mV vs. Ag/AgCl (constant bulk temperature), during which the electrode was irradiated with artificial lighting. This test also confirmed O2 discharge to be the cathodic process involved. A mechanism of radiation conversion to heat in the oxygen diffusion layer region is proposed.
DOI: 10.1016/j.electacta.2009.06.022
Subject Cathodic protection
Oxygen reduction
Sunlight radiation
Calcareous deposit

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