A comparative study of chemical and physical properties of copper and copper alloys affected by acidic, alkaline and saline environments

  • Samiul Kaiser Directorate of Advisory, Extension and Research Services, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, Dhaka-1000, Bangladesh
  • Mohammad Salim Kaiser Directorate of Advisory, Extension and Research Services, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, Dhaka-1000, Bangladesh
Keywords: Copper-alloys, corrosion, oxidation, thermal conductivity, color, microstructure
Optical micrographs of the polished copper, brass and bronze


Chemical and physical behavior including corrosion performance, thermal conductivity and visual color change of the copper-based alloys brass and bronze have been studied prior and after corrosion in acidic, alkaline and saline media. The concentrations of 0.5 M H2SO4, 0.5 M NaOH and 0.5 M NaCl were used in which copper and copper-alloy samples were immersed and left to corrode at room temperature for 28 days. The experiments were performed prior and after corrosion, using conventional gravimetric measurements accompanied with measurements of thermal conductivity, microstructure and optical properties. The color change of different samples was also studied through tristimulus color parameter (L*, a* and b*) values. It is concluded that the corrosion rate of copper and copper alloys is greater in acidic than in salt and alkaline media. This is due to the extent of disruption of the passive film formed on the surfaces. In the cases of alkaline and salt media, the passive films on the surface remain stable to a large extent. Small increase of thermal conductivity takes place due to formation of a very thin film of oxide and hydroxide bonded to the surface. The environment also affects the color of copper and copper alloys by chemical changes like oxidation and formation of different intermetallics on the surfaces. A microstructural study of experimental materials confirms that corrosion after 28 days results in formation of pores on the surfaces in acidic environment, and passive film that grows thicker on the surfaces in alkaline and saline environments. Aluminum oxide that is more stable than zinc oxide causes better anti-corrosion performance and minimal color variation of bronze compared to brass, especially in acidic environment.


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Electrochemical Engineering