For the aerospace industry and the army, reliable functional quality of all components is essential. Inadequate humidity can cause damage and failures to electronic components with potentially disastrous consequences. It affects the quality of polymerization of composites, sealants, coatings and welds, causing parts to deform, become porous or compromise surface quality.
Iron cannot rust in bare, dry air. However, when moisture settles on the metal, oxygen (O2) and water (H2O) begin to react to form hydroxide ions (OH-). To balance the electrons needed for this reaction, the iron oxidizes, i.e. it gives up its electrodes, which are then taken up by the oxygen. In this process, iron oxide is formed. Where the electrons have been withdrawn, an electron deficiency occurs and positively charged iron atoms (Fe2+) are released. These move into the water droplet and combine there with the negatively charged hydroxide ions (OH-). In the first step, iron(II) hydroxide is then formed by different charges. Further reactions with water, oxygen and hydroxide ions lead to more and more reactions, from which iron(III) oxide and iron(III) hydroxide are formed. They settle on the metal surface and give rust its typical appearance. Unlike metals such as aluminum, the process is only stopped when no more iron is present.
In the present, dehumidifiers are working to protect materials from more subtle and expensive forms of corrosion. Modern society depends more and more on light equipment like computers, telecommunications gear, lightweight composite materials and high-energy batteries. While these are less subject to gross rusting, they are very sensitive to microscopic-level corrosion. These circuits simply do not have much material
to begin with, so small amounts of corrosion create disproportionately large problems. Desiccant systems save owners literally hundreds of millions of dollars each year by preventing both gross and microscopic corrosion.
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