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Designation: G15 – 08

Standard Terminology Relating to

Corrosion and Corrosion Testing1
This standard is issued under the fixed designation G15; the number immediately following the designation indicates the year of original
adoption or, in the case of revision, the year of last revision. A number in parentheses indicates the year of last reapproval. A superscript
epsilon (´) indicates an editorial change since the last revision or reapproval.
This standard has been approved for use by agencies of the Department of Defense.

1. Scope noble (positive) direction due to current flow. (See polar-

1.1 This terminology covers commonly used terms in the ization.)
field of corrosion. Related terms may be found in Terminolo- anodic protection—technique to reduce the corrosion rate of a
gies D16, D4538, G40, or other ASTM terminology standards. metal by polarizing it into its passive region where dissolu-
All terms defined by ASTM committees may be found in the tion rates are low.
ASTM Dictionary of Engineering & Technology. anolyte—electrolyte adjacent to the anode of an electrolytic
2. Referenced Documents auxiliary electrode—See counter electrode.
2.1 ASTM Standards: breakdown potential—least noble potential where pitting or
D16 Terminology for Paint, Related Coatings, Materials, crevice corrosion, or both, will initiate and propagate.
and Applications cathode—electrode of an electrolytic cell at which reduction is
D4538 Terminology Relating to Protective Coating and the principal reaction. (Electrons flow toward the cathode in
Lining Work for Power Generation Facilities the external circuit.)
G40 Terminology Relating to Wear and Erosion cathodic corrosion—corrosion of a metal when it is a cathode.
(It usually happens to metals because of a rise in pH at the
3. Terminology cathode or as a result of the formation of hydrides.)
cathodic inhibitor—corrosion inhibitor whose primary action
AC impedance—See electrochemical impedance.
active—negative direction of electrode potential. (Also used to is to slow the kinetics of the cathodic reaction, producing a
describe corrosion and its associated potential range when an negative shift in corrosion potential.
electrode potential is more negative than an adjacent de- cathodic polarization—change of the electrode potential in
pressed corrosion rate [passive] range.) the active (negative) direction due to current flow. (See
anion—negatively charged ion. polarization.)
anode—electrode of an electrolytic cell at which oxidation is cathodic protection—technique to reduce the corrosion rate of
the principal reaction. (Electrons flow away from the anode a metal surface by making it the cathode of an electrochemi-
in the external circuit. It is usually the electrode where cal cell.
corrosion occurs and metal ions enter solution.) catholyte—electrolyte adjacent to the cathode of an electro-
lytic cell.
anode corrosion efficiency—ratio of the actual corrosion
cation—positively charged ion.
(weight loss) of an anode to the theoretical corrosion (weight
loss) calculated by Faraday’s law from the quantity of caustic cracking—stress corrosion cracking of metals in
electricity that has passed. caustic solutions. (See also stress-corrosion cracking.)
anodic inhibitor—corrosion inhibitor whose primary action is caustic embrittlement—See caustic cracking.
to slow the kinetics of the anodic reaction, producing a cavitation—formation and rapid collapse within a liquid of
positive shift in corrosion potential. cavities or bubbles that contain vapor or gas or both.
anodic polarization—change of the electrode potential in the cavitation corrosion—conjoint action of cavitation-erosion
and corrosion.
cavitation damage—degradation of a solid body resulting
This terminology is under the jurisdiction of ASTM Committee G01 on from its exposure to cavitation. (This may include loss of
Corrosion of Metals and is the direct responsibility of Subcommittee G01.02 on material, surface deformation, or changes in properties or
Current edition approved May 1, 2008. Published May 2008. Originally
approved in 1971. Last previous edition approved in 2007 as G15–07. DOI: cavitation-erosion—loss of material from a solid surface due
10.1520/G0015-08. to mechanical action of continuing exposure to cavitation.

Copyright © ASTM International, 100 Barr Harbor Drive, PO Box C700, West Conshohocken, PA 19428-2959, United States.

G15 – 08
chemical conversion coating—protective or decorative non- deposit corrosion—localized corrosion under or around a
metallic coating produced in situ by chemical reaction of a deposit or collection of material on a metal surface. (See also
metal with a chosen environment. (It is often used to prepare crevice corrosion.)
the surface prior to the application of an organic coating.) dezincification—See parting; specific to copper-zinc alloys.
concentration cell—electrolytic cell, the emf of which is differential aeration cell (oxygen concentration cell)—
caused by a difference in concentration of some component concentration cell caused by differences in oxygen concen-
in the electrolyte. (This difference leads to the formation of tration along the surface of a metal in an electrolyte. (See
discrete cathode and anode regions.) concentration cell.)
corrosion—chemical or electrochemical reaction between a diffusion limited current density—current density, often
material, usually a metal, and its environment that produces referred to as limiting current density, that corresponds to the
a deterioration of the material and its properties. maximum transfer rate that a particular species can sustain
corrosion fatigue—process in which a metal fractures prema- due to the limitation of diffusion.
turely under conditions of simultaneous corrosion and re- electrochemical admittance—reciprocal of the electrochemi-
peated cyclic loading at lower stress levels or fewer cycles cal impedance, DI/DE.
than would be required in the absence of the corrosive electrochemical cell—electrochemical system consisting of an
environment. anode and a cathode in metallic contact and immersed in an
corrosion fatigue strength—maximum repeated stress that electrolyte. (The anode and cathode may be different metals
can be endured by a metal without failure under definite or dissimilar areas on the same metal surface.)
conditions of corrosion and fatigue and for a specific number electrochemical impedance—frequency dependent, complex
of stress cycles and a specified period of time. valued proportionality factor, DE/DI, between the applied
corrosion inhibitor—chemical substance or combination of potential (or current) and the response current (or potential)
substances that, when present in the proper concentration in an electrochemical cell. This factor becomes the imped-
and forms in the environment, prevents or reduces corrosion. ance when the perturbation and response are related linearly
corrosion potential—potential of a corroding surface in an (the factor value is independent of the perturbation magni-
electrolyte relative to a reference electrode measured under tude) and the response is caused only by the perturbation.
open-circuit conditions. The value may be related to the corrosion rate when the
corrosion rate—amount of corrosion occurring in unit time. measurement is made at the corrosion potential.
(For example, mass change per unit area per unit time; electrochemical noise—fluctuations of potential or current, or
penetration per unit time.) both, originating from uncontrolled variations in a corrosion
counter electrode—electrode in an electrochemical cell that is process.
used to transfer current to or from a test electrode. electrochemical potential (electrochemical tension)—partial
coupon—specimen, usually flat, but occasionally curved or derivative of the total electrochemical free energy of the
cylindrical. system with respect to the number of moles of the constitu-
crevice corrosion—localized corrosion of a metal surface at, ent in a solution when all other factors are constant.
or immediately adjacent to, an area that is shielded from full (Analogous to the chemical potential of the constituent
exposure to the environment because of close proximity except that it includes the electrical as well as the chemical
between the metal and the surface of another material. contributions to the free energy.)
critical anodic current density—maximum anodic current electrode potential—potential of an electrode in an electrolyte
density observed in the active region for a metal or alloy as measured against a reference electrode. (The electrode
electrode that exhibits active-passive behavior in an envi- potential does not include any resistance losses in potential
ronment. in either the solution or external circuit. It represents the
critical humidity—relative humidity above which the atmo- reversible work to move a unit charge from the electrode
spheric corrosion rate of some metals increases sharply. surface through the solution to the reference electrode.)
critical pitting potential—least noble potential where pitting electrolysis—production of chemical changes of the electro-
corrosion will initiate and propagate. (See breakdown poten- lyte by the passage of current through an electrochemical
tial.) cell.
current density—electric current to or from a unit area of an electrolytic cleaning—process of removing soil, scale, or
electrode surface. corrosion products from a metal surface by subjecting it as
current efficiency—ratio of the electrochemical equivalent an electrode to an electric current in an electrolytic bath.
current density for a specific reaction to the total applied Electromotive Force Series (EMF Series)—list of elements
current density. arranged according to their standard electrode potentials,
deactivation—process of prior removal of the active corrosive with “noble” metals such as gold being positive and “active”
constituents, usually oxygen, from a corrosive liquid by metals such as zinc being negative.
controlled corrosion of expendable metal or by other chemi- embrittlement—severe loss of ductility or toughness or both,
cal means, thereby making the liquid less corrosive. of a material, usually a metal or alloy.
dealloying—See parting. environmentally-assisted cracking—initiation or accelera-
depolarization—not a preferred term. (See polarization.) tion of a cracking process due to the conjoint action of a

G15 – 08
chemical environment and tensile stress. form of corrosion but is not recommended because of its use
equilibrium (reversible) potential—potential of an electrode in metallurgy for the decomposition of carbide to graphite.)
in an electrolytic solution when the forward rate of a given hot corrosion—accelerated corrosion of metal surfaces that
reaction is exactly equal to the reverse rate. (The equilibrium results from the combined effect of oxidation and reactions
potential can only be defined with respect to a specific with sulfur compounds and other contaminants, such as
electrochemical reaction.) chlorides, to form a molten salt on a metal surface which
erosion—progressive loss of material from a solid surface due fluxes, destroys, or disrupts the normal protective oxide.
to mechanical interaction between that surface and a fluid, a hydrogen blistering—formation of blisters on or below a
multi-component fluid, or solid particles carried with the metal surface from excessive internal hydrogen pressure.
fluid. (Hydrogen may be formed during cleaning, plating, corro-
erosion-corrosion—conjoint action involving corrosion and sion, and so forth.)
erosion in the presence of a moving corrosive fluid, leading hydrogen embrittlement—hydrogen-induced cracking or se-
to the accelerated loss of material. vere loss of ductility caused by the presence of hydrogen in
exchange current density—rate of charge transfer per unit the metal.
area when an electrode reaches dynamic equilibrium (at its immunity—state of resistance to corrosion or anodic dissolu-
reversible potential) in a solution; that is, the rate of anodic tion of a metal caused by thermodynamic stability of the
charge transfer (oxidation) balances the rate of cathodic metal.
charge transfer (reduction). impingement corrosion—form of erosion-corrosion generally
exfoliation—corrosion that proceeds laterally from the sites of associated with the local impingement of a high-velocity,
initiation along planes parallel to the surface, generally at flowing fluid against a solid surface.
grain boundaries, forming corrosion products that force impressed current—electric current supplied by a device
metal away from the body of the material, giving rise to a employing a power source that is external to the electrode
layered appearance. system. (An example is dc current for cathodic protection.)
external circuit—wires, connectors, measuring devices, cur- intensiostatic—See galvanostatic.
rent sources, and so forth, that are used to bring about or intercrystalline corrosion—See intergranular corrosion.
measure the desired electrical conditions within the test cell. intergranular corrosion—preferential corrosion at or adja-
filiform corrosion—corrosion that occurs under some coatings cent to the grain boundaries of a metal or alloy.
in the form of randomly distributed threadlike filaments. internal oxidation—formation of isolated particles of corro-
fretting corrosion—deterioration at the interface between sion products beneath the metal surface. (This occurs as the
contacting surfaces as the result of corrosion and slight result of preferential oxidation of certain alloy constituents
oscillatory slip between the two surfaces. by inward diffusion of oxygen, nitrogen, sulfur, and so
galvanic corrosion—accelerated corrosion of a metal because forth.)
of an electrical contact with a more noble metal or nonme- knife-line attack—intergranular corrosion of an alloy, usually
tallic conductor in a corrosive electrolyte. stabilized stainless steel, along a line adjoining or in contact
galvanic couple—pair of dissimilar conductors, commonly with a weld after heating into the sensitization temperature
metals, in electrical contact. (See galvanic corrosion.) range.
galvanic current—electric current between metals or conduc- local action corrosion—corrosion caused by local corrosion
tive nonmetals in a galvanic couple. cells on a metal surface.
galvanic series—list of metals and alloys arranged according local corrosion cell—electrochemical cell created on a metal
to their relative corrosion potentials in a given environment. surface because of a difference in potential between adjacent
galvanodynamic—refers to a technique wherein current, con- areas on that surface.
tinuously varied at a selected rate, is applied to an electrode localized corrosion—corrosion at discrete sites, for example,
in an electrolyte. pitting, crevice corrosion, and stress corrosion cracking.
galvanostaircase—refers to a galvanostep technique for po- long-line current—electric current through the earth from an
larizing an electrode in a series of constant current steps anodic to a cathodic area of a continuous metallic structure.
wherein the time duration and current increments or decre- (Usually used only where the areas are separated by consid-
ments are equal for each step. erable distance and where the current results from
galvanostatic—experimental technique whereby an electrode concentration-cell action.)
is maintained at a constant current in an electrolyte. Luggin probe or Luggin-Haber capillary—device used in
galvanostep—refers to a technique in which an electrode is measuring the potential of an electrode with a significant
polarized in a series of current increments or decrements. current density imposed on its surface. (The probe mini-
grain dropping—dislodgement and loss of a grain or grains mizes the IR drop that would otherwise be included in the
(crystals) from a metal surface as a result of intergranular measurement and without significantly disturbing the current
corrosion. distribution on the specimen.)
graphitic corrosion—deterioration of metallic constituents in macrocell corrosion—corrosion of a metal embedded in
gray cast iron, which leaves the graphitic particles intact. porous media (for example, concrete or soil) caused by
(The term “graphitization” is commonly used to identify this concentration or galvanic cells which exist on a scale at least

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as large as the smallest major dimension of the corroding related nickel base alloys, with larger numbers indicating
item (for example, the diameter of a bar or pipe). increased resistance to corrosion in seawater and other
metal dusting—accelerated deterioration of metals in carbon- halide-containing environments.
aceous gases at elevated temperatures to form a dust-like DISCUSSION—For example, NACE MR0175/ISO15156 uses PREN =
corrosion product. %Cr + 3.3 (%Mo + 0.5%W) = 16%N.
metallizing—See thermal spraying. DISCUSSION—Also called PRE when nitrogen composition is not
microbial corrosion—corrosion that is affected by the action included in the formula.
of microorganisms in the environment.
polarization—change from the open-circuit electrode poten-
microbiologically influenced corrosion (MIC)—corrosion
tial as the result of the passage of current.
inhibited or accelerated by the presence or activity, or both,
polarization admittance—reciprocal of polarization resis-
of microorganisms.
tance (di/dE).
mixed potential—potential of a specimen (or specimens in a
polarization resistance—slope (dE/di) at the corrosion poten-
galvanic couple) when two or more electrochemical reac-
tial of a potential (E)–current density (i) curve. (It is
tions are occurring simultaneously.
inversely proportional to the corrosion current density when
noble—positive (increasingly oxidizing) direction of electrode
the polarization resistance technique is applicable.)
potentiodynamic—refers to a technique wherein the potential
noble metal—metal with a standard electrode potential that is
of an electrode with respect to a reference electrode is varied
more noble (positive) than that of hydrogen.
at a selected rate by application of a current through the
occluded cell—electrochemical cell created at a localized site
on a metal surface which has been partially obstructed from
potentiostaircase—refers to a potentiostep technique for po-
the bulk environment.
larizing an electrode in a series of constant potential steps
open-circuit potential—potential of an electrode measured
wherein the time duration and potential increments or
with respect to a reference electrode or another electrode
decrements are equal for each step.
when no current flows to or from it.
potentiostat—instrument for automatically maintaining an
overvoltage—change in potential of an electrode from its
electrode in an electrolyte at a constant potential or con-
equilibrium or steady state value when current is applied.
trolled potentials with respect to a suitable reference elec-
oxidation—loss of electrons by a constituent of a chemical
reaction. (Also refers to the corrosion of a metal that is
potentiostatic—technique for maintaining a constant electrode
exposed to an oxidizing gas at elevated temperatures.)
parting—selective corrosion of one or more components of a
potentiostep—refers to a technique in which an electrode is
solid solution alloy.
polarized in a series of potential increments or decrements.
parting limit—minimum concentration of a more noble com-
poultice corrosion—See deposit corrosion.
ponent in an alloy, above which parting does not occur in a
Pourbaix diagram (electrode potential-pH diagram)—
specific environment.
graphical representation showing regions of thermodynamic
passivation—process in metal corrosion by which metals
stability of species in metal-water electrolyte systems.
become passive. (See passive.)
primary passive potential (passivation potential)—potential
passivator—type of inhibitor which appreciably changes the
corresponding to the maximum active current density (criti-
potential of a metal to a more noble (positive) value.
cal anodic current density) of an electrode that exhibits
passive—state of the metal surface characterized by low
active-passive corrosion behavior.
corrosion rates in a potential region that is strongly oxidizing
protection potential—most noble potential where pitting and
for the metal.
crevice corrosion will not propagate.
passive-active cell—corrosion cell in which the anode is a
redox potential—potential of a reversible oxidation-reduction
metal in the active state and the cathode is the same metal in
electrode measured with respect to a reference electrode,
the passive state.
corrected to the hydrogen electrode, in a given electrolyte.
patina—corrosion product film, usually green, that forms on
reduction—gain of electrons by a constituent of a chemical
the surface of copper and copper alloys exposed to the
atmosphere. (Also used to describe a weathered surface of
reference electrode—electrode having a stable and reproduc-
any metal.)
ible potential, which is used in the measurement of other
pitting—corrosion of a metal surface, confined to a point or
electrode potentials.
small area, that takes the form of cavities.
rest potential—See open-circuit potential.
pitting factor—ratio of the depth of the deepest pit resulting
rouge—iron containing film that discolors the surface of
from corrosion divided by the average penetration as calcu-
stainless steel and other surfaces present in high purity water
lated from weight loss.
usually at elevated temperatures.
Pitting Resistance Equivalency Number (PREN)—number
rust—corrosion product consisting primarily of hydrated iron
based on alloy composition that is claimed to relate to the
oxide. (A term properly applied only to ferrous alloys.)
pitting and crevice corrosion resistance of stainless steel and

G15 – 08
sample—portion of material taken from a larger quantity and plot in terms of volts per logarithmic cycle of current density
representative of the whole, to be used for test purposes. (commonly referred to as volts per decade).
season cracking—See stress-corrosion cracking. thermal spraying—group of processes wherein finely divided
sensitization—process resulting in a metallurgical condition metallic or nonmetallic materials are deposited in a molten
which causes susceptibility of an alloy to intergranular or semimolten condition to form a coating. (The coating
corrosion or intergranular environmentally assisted cracking material may be in the form of powder, ceramic rod, wire, or
in a specific environment. molten materials.)
specimen—prepared portion of a sample upon which a test is thermogalvanic corrosion—corrosive effect resulting from
intended to be performed the galvanic cell caused by a thermal gradient across the
stray current corrosion—corrosion caused by electric current metal surface.
from a source external to the intended electrical circuit, for transpassive region—region of an anodic polarization curve,
example, extraneous current in the earth. noble to and above the passive potential range, in which
stress-corrosion cracking—cracking process that requires the there is a significant increase in current density (increased
simultaneous action of a corrodent and sustained tensile metal dissolution) as the potential becomes more positive
stress. (This excludes corrosion-reduced sections which fail (noble).
by fast fracture. It also excludes intercrystalline or transcrys- tuberculation—formation of localized corrosion products that
talline corrosion which can disintegrate an alloy without appear on a surface as knoblike prominences (tubercules).
either applied or residual stress.) uniform corrosion—corrosion that proceeds at about the same
subsurface corrosion—See internal oxidation. rate over a metal surface.
sulfidation—reaction of a metal or alloy with a sulfur- weld decay—not a preferred term. Integranular corrosion,
containing species to produce a sulfur compound that forms usually of stainless steels or certain nickel-base alloys, that
on or beneath the surface of the metal or alloy. occurs as the result of sensitization in the heat-affected zone
Tafel slope—slope of the straight line portion of a polarization during the welding operation.
curve, usually occurring at more than 50 mV from the working electrode—test or specimen electrode in an electro-
open-circuit potential, when presented in a semi-logarithmic chemical cell.

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