Maritime transport of steel products: cargo damage due to corrosion

Maritime transport of steel products: cargo damage due to corrosion Article Rating

Nothing is as annoying as cargo damage due to moisture in the shipping container. But, unfortunately, it happens often, with all its consequences. Because no matter how well insured you are, you are always faced with the results of a rejected load. Think of the costs for producing and transporting the products again, the time investment that must be made to get the products to the customer still, and increased premiums for transport insurance. But also the image of the company as well as customer satisfaction can be damaged.

Steel transport by sea

According to figures from Eurofer, a European network of iron and steel producers, as much as 20.5 million tons of steel products were exported from Europe in 2019. Most of this reached its destination via ocean-going vessels.

If you export steel or products made from steel or aluminium, you must consider the risks associated with maritime transport. After all, steel is a product that is very susceptible to damage. Imagine that your customer receives your goods and discovers rust damage for a moment. Of course, you want to avoid that at all costs. Your reputation and your relationship with the customer are at stake.

Corrosion damage caused by condensation

Corrosion is a chemical reaction. For example, when steel is in contact with water and oxygen for an extended period, the material oxidizes, forming rust. Rust makes the steel brittle and can damage products made of steel or aluminium.

Therefore, in maritime transport, it is essential to keep the inside of the container dry. Accordingly, steel products are always stored in a dry environment before loading. The container is first thoroughly cleaned and dried. Then, dust is removed as best as possible, as dust can retain moisture and increase the chance of atmospheric corrosion.

Even if all guidelines are correctly followed during loading, the problem is not solved: rust damage during transport is also a risk. After all, you can never remove all moisture from the container.

Like the air around you, the air inside the container contains a certain amount of water vapour. Water vapour is water in gas form, but when this gas comes into contact with a cold surface, it becomes liquid. This creates tiny condensation droplets on the inside of the container and the cargo. This makes the ideal conditions for rust formation.

Why temperature is important

Temperature plays an essential role in condensation formation. The dew point is the temperature at which water vapour is completely saturated. When the ambient temperature drops below the dew point, the air becomes more humid and increases the chance of condensation when that moist air reaches a cold surface.

The dew point varies significantly from place to place. The higher the humidity, the closer the dew point is to the ambient temperature and the smaller the temperature difference needed for condensation. Therefore, the inside of the container may have a different dew point than the outside air.

In sea transport, the temperature fluctuates considerably. This is because you have to deal with the temperature differences between day and night, the varying weather conditions and the different climate zones. This means that without additional protection, the chances of the temperature inside the container dropping below the dew point during transport are very high.

There is a solution to this problem. By using container insulation material, we can keep the temperature inside the container as stable as possible. In addition, we use desiccants to pull as much moisture out of the air as possible and thus lower the humidity.

A solution to the problem

Rusting and avoiding cargo damage are problems that every exporter of steel or products made of steel or aluminium faces. Every product that can no longer be sold is one too many. Every dissatisfied customer is one too many.

Fortunately, there are solutions to this problem. You can avoid cargo damage caused by corrosion, and you don't have to make a huge investment to do so. The Praxas Container Pack combines container insulation, desiccants and data recorders. These tools limit the moisture in the container air and, at the same time, keep the temperature in the container stable.

In this way, condensation does not stand a chance, and rust formation can be avoided.



[1] A Master's Guide to The Carriage of Steel Cargo, published by the Standard Club, Augustus 2021



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