Journal of Water Resource and Protection, 2012, 4, 487-492 Published Online July 2012 (
The Preparation and Performance Study of a
Phosphate-Free Corrosion/Scale Inhibitor
Defang Zeng*, Wei Zhang
School of Resource and Environmental Engineering, Wuhan University of Technology, Wuhan, China
Email: *
Received November 29, 2011; revised April 3, 2012; accepted May 7, 2012
By using acrylic acid copolymer, sodium citrate, hydrolyzed polymaleic anhydride (HPMA), corrosion inhibitor D and
Zn2+ synergist as raw materials, a multi-component phosphate-free corrosion and scale inhibitor was developed. The
performance of the composite phosphate-free corrosion and scale inhibitor was evaluated using the rotary hanging sheet
corrosion test, the static scale inhibition test and the corrosion electrochemical test. And the surface morphology of the
carbon steel was observed by scanning electronic microscope (SEM). Orthogonal experiment results indicated that the
optimal mass ratios of amino acid: Zn2+ synergist: HPMA: corrosion inhibitor D: acrylic acid copolymer was
0.5:10:12:1:8. It was also observed that phosphate-free corrosion and scale inhibitor based on an anodic reaction
through the electrochemical corrosion experiment, its annual corrosion rate and scale inhibition rate reached 0.0176
mm·a–1 and 98.3%, respectively, showing excellent corrosion and scale inhibition performance.
Keywords: Phosphate-Free Corrosion/Scale Inhibitor; Static Scale Inhibition Method; SEM; Electrochemical Corrosion
1. Introduction
Industrial recirculating cooling water accounts for 60% -
70% in the industrial water, it will result in corrosion,
scaling and microbial slime of the equipment and the
pipeline as well as reduce their service life without treat-
ing. Thus, to treat recirculating cooling water has aroused
the concern from the whole society.
Organophosphorus compound was a type of corrosion
inhibitor extensively used since 1980s. However, it’s di-
minishing because of its toxic effects on aquatic and
other life [1]. Therefore, the public began to focus on the
development of low phosphorus, non-phosphorus and
heavy nonmetal salt corrosion and scale inhibitors. On
one hand, low phosphorus corrosion and scale inhibitor is
developing rapidly, such as 2-phosphono-1,2,4-tricarbo-
xylic acid butane (PBTCA) and hydrolyzed polymaleic
anhydride (HPMA) [2]. On the other hand, the non-phos-
phorus corrosion and scale inhibitor has also obtained
new achievements.
In this paper, a multi-component phosphate-free cor-
rosion and scale inhibitor blend composed of acrylic acid
copolymer, sodium citrate, hydrolyzed polymaleic anhy-
dride (HPMA), corrosion inhibitor D and Zn2+ synergist
was prepared [3-7]. The recirculating cooling water was
obtained from water treatment plant. The performance of
the phosphate-free corrosion and scale inhibitor was eva-
luated by rotary hanging sheet corrosion test and static
scale inhibition test. The mechanism of corrosion and
scale inhibition was preliminarily investigated by corro-
sion electrochemistry test and scanning electron micro-
scope (SEM) techniques [8-11].
2. Experimental
2.1. Main Materials
Acrylic acid copolymer, sodium citrate, hydrolyzed poly-
maleic anhydride (HPMA), sodium citrate, Zn2+ synergist
and anhydrous alcohol. All chemicals were of analytical
2.2. The Rotary Hanging Sheet Corrosion Test
The corrosion rate of A3 type carbon steel was deter-
mined by weight loss test. The carbon steel sheets were
polished with different grades of emery paper, degreased
with anhydrous alcohol, and rinsed with distilled water.
Having been dried by electric dry oven and accurately
weighed by electronic balance, the carbon steel were im-
mersed in a beaker with water sample and with or with-
out inhibitors. And the quality index of water sample was
presented in Table 1. The beakers were put into the ro-
tary hanging piece corrosion test instrument. Experi-
mental conditions as follows: 1) constant temperature
was 45˚C ± 1˚C; 2) rotating speed was 75 r·min–1; 3)
*Corresponding author.
opyright © 2012 SciRes. JWARP
Table 1. Water quality index.
Project Analysis value
pH value 7.24
calcium ion/(mg·L–1) 92.57
magnesium ion/(mg·L–1) 61.28
chloride ion/(mg·L–1) 397.5
total hardness/(mmol·L–1) 4.54
total alkalinity/(mmol·L–1) 4.37
potassium ion/(mg·L–1) 15.24
conductivity/(μs·cm–1) 925
total dissolved solids content/(mg·L–1) 606
experimental period was 72 hours. After 72 hours, the
carbon steel sheets were taken out, washed, dried and
accurately weighed. Each set of experiments was re-
peated three times at least to ensure reproducibility. Ac-
cording to Technical Conditions of Standard Corrosion
Spool of Chemical Treatment in Cooling Water (HG/
T3523-2008), A3 type carbon steel with a size of 50 mm
× 25 mm × 2 mm and an area of 28 cm2 in the experi-
The annual corrosion rate and corrosion inhibition effi-
ciency was calculated by formulae (1) and (2), respec-
tively [12]:
K (1)
where Ka is the annual corrosion rate, mm·a–1; m0 is the
weight of the carbon steel before experiment, g; m is the
weight of the carbon steel after experiment, g; s is the
surface area of the carbon steel, cm2; ρ is the density of
the carbon steel, g·cm–3; t is the test time, h.
where K is the corrosion inhibition efficiency; K0 and K1
are the values of the weight loss of carbon steel after be-
ing immersed in solutions without and with inhibitors,
respectively, mm·a–1.
2.3. The Static Scale Inhibition Test
The mechanism of scaling inhibition mainly included la-
ttice deformation, complexation, dispersion effect and
dispersive active [13,14]. In the experiment, 0.5 L·min–1
of nitrogen was ventilated to the bottom of the container
with adding 30 mg·L–1 of inhibitor at 45˚C. The experi-
ment was ceased after six times diluted concentration.
where C2 is determined mass concentration of calcium
ion after adding chemicals, mg·L–1; C1 is determined
mass concentration of calcium ion without chemicals,
mg· L –1; C0 is initial mass concentration of calcium ion
without chemicals, mg·L–1; K is the concentration multi-
ple in the determined conditions of C2 and C1.
2.4 .Corrosion Electrochemical Experiments
Corrosion electrochemical methods consulted the re-
search methods and measurement techniques in other
fields. According to the characteristics and requirements
of corrosion metal electrodes, it has become a significant
method for the research and measurement of corrosive
electrochemistry with improvement and modification. In
particular, the dynamic potential polarization is the com-
mon method that evaluates inhibition efficiency of corro-
sion inhibitor [15]. Polarization curve obtained from the
dynamic potential polarization extrapolates corrosion po-
tential to obtain corrosion current density I and Tafel
parameters. The shape of cathode and anodic polarization
curve intuitively reflects the corrosion inhibition mecha-
nism of corrosion inhibitors, which is the main research
and evaluation method of corrosion inhibitors.
Electrodes were connected by three electrodes polari-
zation method in the experiment. A3 carbon steel was
used as the working electrode, saturated calomel elec-
trode (SCE) as the reference electrode and platinum sheet
as the auxiliary electrode. The sample was immersed in a
3.5% (w/w) NaCl solution for 30 min. When polarization
curve test was carried out, the potential scan rate was
adjusted to 0.01 v·s–1. Polarization curves could be achi-
eved after data process.
2.5. Scanning Electronic Microscopy (SEM)
Corrosion crystal morphology on the surface of A3 car-
bon steel was observed by JSM5610LV type SEM. In
this experiment, A3 carbon steel was immersed in water
sample with and without phosphate-free scale and corro-
sion inhibitor, respectively. Afterwards the test coupon
was washed with 98% (w/w) anhydrous alcohol and
treated for vacuum drying. Accelerating voltage of the
JSM5610LV type SEM was 25 kV, amplification factor
was 2000.
3. Results and Discussion
3.1. Rotating Hang-Parcel Weight-Loss
Experimental Performance Analysis
The inhibitor in this experiment composed of A (sodium
citrate), B (Zn2+ synergist), C (HPMA), corrosion inhibi-
tor D and E (acrylic copolymer). L16 (45) orthogonal
table was used to arrange experiment.Corrosion rate of
the carbon steel was determined after 72 hours, the final
result was the average values of three replicates. The re-
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Copyright © 2012 SciRes. JWARP
sults were showed in Table 2. sion inhibition effect.
As shown in Table 2, the sequence of the influencing
factors was corrosion inhibitor D > Amino acid > Zn2+
synergist > acrylic copolymer > HPMA in order of im-
portance to the corrosion rate. According to orthogonal
experiment results, the optimum formula was D4A4B4E1C1
on corrosion inhibition. Based on the optimum formula,
the weight loss experiment was carried out. The mass
ratios of amino acid, Zn2+ synergist, HPMA, corrosion
inhibitor D and acrylic copolymer was 0.5:12:0:1:8 in the
optimum formula. The results were presented in Table 3.
3.2. Static Scale Inhibition Performance Analysis
Comparison experiments were conducted with and with-
out inhibitors. The relationship between the concentra-
tion of Ca2+, 3
and cycle of concentration was
showed in Figure 1.
When the solution concentration was concentrated by
1 - 1.8 times, the concentration of Ca2+ and 3
showed linear change, illustrating that Ca2+ and 3
were unsaturated in solution. The concentration of
The corrosion inhibition efficiency of optimized for-
mulation reached 96.6% (Table 3), showing good corro- 3
appeared increases linearly with the inhibitor,
Table 2. Design of orthogonal experiment L16 (45) and experiment results.
Experimental factor
Numbers A
Amino acid
Zn2+ synergist/
Corrosion inhibitor/
Acrylic copolymer/
Average corrosion
1 0.3 9 10 0.8 5 0.0245
2 0.3 10 11 0.9 8 0.0225
3 0.3 11 12 1 7 0.0239
4 0.3 12 13 1.1 6 0.0214
5 0.4 9 11 1 8 0.0221
6 0.4 10 10 1.1 7 0.0260
7 0.4 11 13 0.8 6 0.0299
8 0.4 12 12 0.9 5 0.0230
9 0.5 9 12 1.1 6 0.0234
10 0.5 10 13 1 5 0.0229
11 0.5 11 10 0.9 8 0.0288
12 0.5 12 11 0.8 7 0.0310
13 0.6 9 13 0.9 7 0.0211
14 0.6 10 12 0.8 8 0.0205
15 0.6 11 11 1.1 5 0.0197
16 0.6 12 10 1 6 0.0271
17 0 0 0 0 0 0.5215
i/5 0.1064 0.1059 0.0921 0.0923 0.0901
ii/5 0.0953 0.0954 0.0919 0.1010 0.1029
iii/5 0.0908 0.0960 0.1023 0.1061 0.1010
iv/5 0.0943 0.0905 0.0926 0.0884 0.0918
R 0.0156 0.0154 0.0104 0.0207 0.0128
factors 2 3 5 1 4
Table 3. Optimizing formula experimental results.
Experiment Hang-parcel
Quality of hang-parcel
before experiment/g
Quality of hang-parcel
after experiment/g
Annual corrosion rate
1152 19.2498 19.2465 0.0033
1153 19.1601 19.1567 0.0034
1154 19.0684 19.0655 0.0029
1155 19.8299 19.7576 0.0945
1156 19.2922 19.2204 0.0940
1115 19.3625 19.2941 0.0938
Figure 1. Ca2+, conce ntr ation and conc e ntration multiple relationship chart.
while it increased slowly and even tended to decrease
without the inhibitor. And the concentration of Ca2+ ba-
sically showed increases linearly with and without in-
hibitor, respectively. Experimental results showed that
the concentrations of Ca2+ and in the solution
were stabilized after adding inhibitor.
According to the results of Table 4, the average scale
inhibition efficiency with phosphate-free corrosion and
scale inhibitor reached 98.3%, showing good scale inhi-
bition performance.
3.3. Corrosion Electrochemistry Results Analysis
Two specimens were immersed in 3.5% NaCl solution
with and without inhibitor, respectively. Then the test
method of electrochemical polarization curve was con-
ducted. The results were presented in Table 5 and Fig-
ure 2. And the inhibition efficiency of the inhibitor for
the carbon steel corrosion was calculated by formula (4):
In Figure 2, the corrosion potential was shift to the
positive after adding the inhibitor. The increasing in an-
odic current density indicated that the dissolution of the
anode materials. Figure 2 showed the anode Icorr was
reduced from 201 μA·cm2 to 21 μA·cm2 after adding the
inhibitor. It indicated that the anode corrosion process
was inhibited. And the anode inhibition was more sig-
nificantly than the cathode with the inhibitor. Table 3
and Table 5 showed the consistent results with electro-
chemical test.
Figure 2. The polarization curve of blank and adding
phosphate-free scale corrosion inhibitor treated samples in
3.5% NaCl solution.
3.4. SEM Structure Analysis
The experimental conditions as followed: the bath tem-
perature was maintained at 50˚C for 48 h, the flow rate of
solution and the cycle of concentration were adjusted to
0.01 m·s–1 and 1.8 times, respectively. The concentration
of phosphate-free corrosion and scale inhibitor was 30
mg· L –1. Figures 3(a) and (b) were corrosion crystal on
A3 carton steel surface with and without phosphate-free
corrosion and scale inhibitor, respectively.
Figure 3 showed that the carbon steel was corroded
severely without the inhibitor, many apertures appeared
on its surface and some corrosion products deposited on
the surface with uplift shape. In comparison, the surface
of the carbon steel with 30 mg·L–1 of phosphate-free
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. JWARP
D. F. ZENG, W. ZHANG 491
Table 4. Scale inhibition efficiency with different concentration multiple.
Theoretical value
Without chemicals
Adding chemicals
Scale inhibition efficiency
2.5 231.4 166.7 230.8 99.1
3 277.7 180.1 271.0 98.2
3.5 324.0 195.2 320.6 98.5
4 370.1 236.7 368.1 98.3
4.5 416.5 270.1 415.1 98.7
5 462.8 308.2 460.2 99.1
5.5 509.1 330.2 504.2 98.0
Average 98.3
Table 5. Electrochemical parameter with different concentrations of corrosion inhibitor in 3.5% NaCl solution.
Concentration of corrosion inhibitor/mg·L–1 Ecorr (vsSCE)/mV Icorr/µA·cm2 Corrosion rate η/%
0 –482 201 0
30 –443 21 89.56
60 –435 19 90.55
(a) (b)
Figure 3. The corrosion crystal on A3 carton steel surface.
corrosion and scale inhibitor was flat and smooth. It
caused some damage and few corrosion products accu-
mulation on the surface of the carbon steel because of
polishing hang-parcel. But there were basically no corro-
sion marks. Results illustrated that a complete compact
protective film formed on carbon steel surface after add-
ing phosphate-free corrosion and scale inhibitor. It effec-
tively cut off contact between the corrosive medium and
carbon steel surface so as to significantly inhibit the cor-
rosion of carbon steel in water sample.
4. Conclusions
1) A phosphate-free corrosion and scale inhibitor
composed of A (sodium citrate), B (Zn2+ synergist), C
(HPMA), corrosion inhibitor D and E (acrylic copoly-
mer). The optimized mass ratio of amino acid: Zn2+ syn-
ergist: HPMA: corrosion inhibitor D: acrylic acid co-
polymer was 0.5:10:12:1:8.
2) Annual corrosion rate tested by optimized rotating
hang-parcel corrosion experiment was 0.0176 mm·a–1
which was lower than 0.075 mm·a–1 of industry standard
according to Code for Design of Industrial Recirculating
Cooling Water Treatment (GB50050-2007). The experi-
mental results showed that the phosphate-free corrosion
and scale inhibitor was a kind of good corrosion and
scale inhibitor whose corrosion inhibition rate and scale
inhibition rate surpassed 96% and 98%, respectively.
3) Polarization curve test showed the phosphate-free
corrosion and scale inhibitor was a kind of corrosion and
scale inhibitor that mainly caused anode type reaction.
Based on the surface morphology of the carbon steel was
observed by SEM, it showed that a protective film was
formed on the surface of A3 carbon steel with optimized
phosphate-free corrosion and scale inhibitor.
5. Acknowledgements
The authors gratefully acknowledge School of Resource
and Environmental Engineering, Wuhan University of
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. JWARP
Technology institute of the facilities and test environ-
ments. We also thank the Science and Technology De-
partment of Hubei (China) to provide financial support.
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