1. You lead the European research center of Zerust-Excor in Dresden, Germany. This center is operating since 1996, what is the purpose of this institute?
The company "EXCOR Korrosionsforschung" has 4 main tasks:
- Quality control from incoming raw material to the finished product. We check all product parameters specified by us or our customers. These are, for example, the composition and concentration of ZERUST EXCOR VCI in all ZERUST EXCOR products and intermediate products and physical parameters.
- Support of the customers through consultation, surface examinations of customer parts, load tests in climate chambers or cabinets and corrosion protection tests in general
- research and development
In short: we support the customers and users of the EXCOR ZERUST joint venture, ensure ZERUST EXCOR quality, develop and research and manufacture VCI products.
2. This institute that you lead is a reference in the field of VCI research… Can you introduce us to VCI, how they work and what is their scope of application?
The term "catalyst" will be more familiar to most readers than the term "inhibitor".
A catalyst is a substance that provides an alternative and faster path for a chemical reaction. Corrosion is - in our context - an electrochemical reaction which takes place, among other reasons, because the corrosion products = " rust " represent the transition to a lower energy compound for the reactants. It is a universal endeavour of all substances to achieve a more stable state. Among other things, stability results from energy loss: ash is more stable than coal or a diamond. Try to reignite ashes once.
Translated into corrosion this means: the elements oxygen and iron lose energy through the formation of the more stable iron oxide. Therefore the reaction of the two elements runs in this direction.
Can this process be prevented forever? Unfortunately it is not possible. However, it is possible to work on the speed at which this state will be reached. A catalyst would accelerate the corrosion, the inhibitor slows down the corrosion rate.
EXCOR uses inhibitors which support each other synergistically and reduce the corrosion rate through various mechanisms. For this purpose the inhibitor must adsorb on the surface of the metals. One inhibitor intervenes, for example, directly in the autocatalytic corrosion process of the iron, another VCI occupies active sites on the surface and prevents the corrosive attack of other substances there, a third inhibitor reacts with existing corrosion products in micro-damages of the surface and prevents further growth of the pre-damaged sites. "Preventing", as already mentioned, does not refer to eternity, but to the necessary period of corrosion protection.
3. How is the center organized, can you give us a virtual tour of the site?
The employees of EXCOR Korrosionsforschung are organised in smaller working groups which reflect the task profile of the company.
One group consists of specialists in analytical chemistry, another group implements the results from R&D in production, and a third group tests the corrosion protection properties of the products. All groups pursue R&D topics and support each other and of course ZERUST EXCOR customers.
We are well equipped for our tasks. We can solve many analytical tasks using a wide range of chromatographic and other analytical methods. With climate stress tests and corrosion protection tests developed in-house, which have been adopted by many customers in the automotive sector, we test the effectiveness of ZERUST EXCOR corrosion protection. In the largest climatic chamber, up to six pallets of packaged goods can be subjected to climatic stress simultaneously on one level. Stress tests are also carried out in other climatic cabinets and chambers. Other measuring methods are of a physical nature. In principle, the laboratory equipment is based on the maxim: if a parameter is specified, then we have the measuring method for it. We can therefore measure and determine each of the specified parameters.
Corrosion rates depend decisively on the cleanliness of the metallic surfaces. Our laboratory can detect and measure the critical contaminations. Together with the customer, we can use this information to derive suggestions for improvements to customer processes that can dramatically reduce the risk of corrosion. The reject rate due to corrosion is reduced and the customer saves real money - and nerves. The packaging must of course meet the requirements. Cleanliness alone is not enough.
4. How many people and what are the profiles in your team?
At "EXCOR Korrosionsforschung" chemists, physicists, materials scientists and engineers work together with a team of assistants for the chemical and physical laboratory. Currently more than 20 colleagues work at EXCOR KorFo. The knowledge of the ZERUST EXCOR employees in the laboratory covers all necessary scientific fields and methods. Where methods are missing, we develop them ourselves or obtain external support.