Materials Performance

SEP 2018

Materials Performance is the world's most widely circulated magazine dedicated to corrosion prevention and control. MP provides information about the latest corrosion control technologies and practical applications for every industry and environment.

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steel capsule contained an aerial map; a 48-star American flag; statements from the Tulsa Council of Churches, Board of Education, and Chamber of Com- merce as well as postcards from citizens guessing the population of Tulsa 50 years into the future. The person with the most accurate prediction would win the classic Belvedere when it was un- earthed in 2007. "There was a tremendous amount of publicity and excitement leading up to our 2007 centennial celebration and the historic excavation of the car on June 15," says NACE member Terry May, chair of the upcoming NACE Central Area Conference in Tulsa in September. "Residents were hoping that the Belve- dere would be in great condition—even drivable." On June 13, hazardous materials crews briefly opened the vault to inspect the cans of gasoline and motor oil that had been placed in the capsule in the event that internal combustion engines became obsolete by 2007. What they found was devastating to event organiz- ers—groundwater had seeped into the concrete vault. The water stood at four feet, with evidence that it had reached the top of the structure at one or more times. When the Plymouth was excavated and unwrapped at the Tulsa Convention Center on June 15, thousands of disap- pointed viewers found that the mud- caked vehicle had rusted completely, with ruined upholstery, collapsed suspension, and flat tires. The key was rusted into the ignition, and the engine appeared to be one solid corroded block. "They put the Plymouth Belvedere to sleep in 1957 for 50 years in a buried vault but found that 'rust never sleeps' in that environment," says NACE Fellow Bob Baboian, an expert in vehicle and artifact corrosion. "Since the concrete vault periodically filled with ground - water, the vehicle exposure was similar to that in a giant alternate immersion cabinet. The extent of corrosion on the Belvedere is expected for that vehicle in that environment." Baboian and Townsend point out that in ensuing years, when deicing road salts came into widespread use in the 1960s, automobile manufacturers faced signifi- cant challenges in corrosion control that had not needed addressing in the past. "As salt-induced corrosion became a severe problem, automakers turned to the use of improved phosphate pretreat- ments, electrophoretically applied prim- ers that coated both exterior and interior components, and switched from ordinary steel to galvanized steel," says Townsend. "These changes, particularly the use of galvanized steel, have greatly improved the corrosion resistance of today's auto- mobiles, but it is still doubtful that they would be much good after 50 years un- derwater or underground." Concurs Baboian, "In the early 1960s when the U.S. Bare Pavement Policy was introduced, deicing salts were discovered to be a relatively cheap and e way to help clear roads of ice and snow. Over the years, the annual use of deicing salts in the United States has risen from 1 mil- lion tons to about 20 million tons. There- fore, vehicles today are designed and built for corrosion resistance, with great success." "However," says Baboian, "even the improved designs, galvanized steel, and superior coatings used on current vehi- cles would not survive for 50 years in that concrete vault environment." S P E C I A L F E AT U R E Tulsa's Time Capsule Car Succumbs to Corrosion The engine of the rusted vehicle was found to be a single corroded block. Photo by Bryan Campbell. In 1957, a contest was held for Tulsa residents to guess the population of the city in June 2007 (it was 382,457 as of June 1). Entries were sealed in a steel box and buried with the car. When determined, the winner or the winner's heirs will inherit this rusty relix. Photo by Bryan Campbell. SEPTEMBER 2018 W W W.MATERIALSPERFORMANCE.COM A18

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