Copper-nickel alloys are used for seawater systems, desalination units and to protect offshore structures
Copper-nickel alloys are used for seawater systems

Copper, the most noble of the metals in common use, has excellent resistance to corrosion in the atmosphere and in fresh water.  In seawater, the copper-nickel alloys have superior resistance to corrosion, coupled with excellent anti-fouling properties.

Copper cladding of wooden-hulled warships, introduced by the Royal Navy in the 18th century to prevent damage by wood-boring insects and worms such as the teredo, was discovered to prevent biofouling by weed and molluscs. This meant that ships could stay at sea for long periods without cleaning. Nelson's successful blockade tactics, and subsequent victory at Trafalgar, was partly due to the superior speed of his clean-hulled ships. 

The addition of nickel to copper improve
s its strength and durability, and also the resistance to corrosion and erosion in natural waters, including seawater, brackish and treated water. The alloys also show excellent resistance to stress-corrosion cracking and corrosion fatigue.

The added advantage of high resistance to macro-fouling provides a material ideal for use in marine and saltwater environments for commercial and naval shipping, desalination plants, heat exchange equipment, seawater and hydraulic pipelines, oil rigs and platforms, fish farming cages, seawater intake screens, offshore renewables, ship and boat hulls and more.

Copper Alloys for Marine Environments

Copper Alloys for Marine Environments is a CDA publication that provides engineers with an appreciation of copper alloys commonly used in marine applications. It gives an overview of the range of alloys and their properties, with references and sources for further information.

Click here to download the publication.

Copper Alloys in Seawater: Avoidance of Corrosion

Copper Alloys in Seawater: Avoidance of Corrosion is a CDA publication that gives practical guidance for engineers on the avoidance of corrosion in copper alloys for seawater applications.

Copper alloys have been widely used in seawater and related brines, such as in thermal desalination plants, for many years, generally with excellent results. They are commonly used for piping, valves, pumps and heat exchanger tubing, but have found many other applications.

Occasionally there are failures due to corrosion, and in many cases these could be avoided by following some simple design recommendations, by selecting an alternative copper alloy, or by using a simple preventative strategy. This publication covers the most common types of corrosion and shows simple methods to avoid them. If these are implemented at the design stage, it can save a large expenditure after a corrosion failure.

The guide has been written principally for marine, mechanical and other engineers who have to select materials of construction but do not have a corrosion background.

Click here to view the publication page, with individual sections available for download.

Click here to download it in full.

Related ResourcesHere are related resources.  To browse and search all resources, visit the Resource Library.
    The Corrosion Performance of Metals for the Marine Environment: A Basic Guide (European Federation of Corrosion (EFC) Series)
    corrosion, environment, marine
    This book, edited by Carol Powell and Roger Francis, is aimed at engineers new to the marine environment and those wanting to update their knowledge. Applications, commonly used alloy compositions, mechanical properties and the types of corrosion that the alloy groups are susceptible to are all described. The concluding section provides an explanation of galvanic corrosion in seawater and how each alloy group behaves when coupled to others.
    Pub 225 - Copper Alloys in Seawater: Avoidance of Corrosion
    alloys, bronze, copper-nickel, corrosion, gunmetal, property, seawater
    Practical guidance for engineers on the avoidance of corrosion in copper alloys for seawater applications. 2016. 20 pp.
    Pub 206 - Copper Alloys in Marine Environments
    Design and manufacture, Marine
    alloys, beryllium, brass, bronze, copper-nickel, corrosion, marine, property, resistance, seawater
    This publication focuses on the properties and corrosion resistance of a wide range of copper alloys used for seawater service - ranging from commercial grades of copper through copper-nickels, bronze,  brass and copper beryllium.  It allows the reader to understand potential types of corrosion mechanisms for the different alloy types and how to avoid them. 2012. 32pp.
    Pub 157 - Preventing Biofouling with Copper Alloys
    Design and manufacture, Marine
    copper-nickel, alloys, marine, seawater, sheet , ship and boat hulls
    Long term protection against biofouling on marine structures and boat hulls can be afforded by copper-nickel in the form of sheet or as a variety of composite products; hence avoiding costly removal of fouling by mechanical means or periodic re-application of anti-fouling paints. 2002. 4pp.
    Pub 139 - Copper-nickel Welding and Fabrication
    Design and manufacture, Marine
    alloys, copper-nickel, fabricator, welding electrodes
    This publication provides an understanding of the two primary copper-nickel alloys to allow good fabrication and operational practices. Topics covered include general engineering properties of 90/10 and 70/30 copper-nickels, welding and fabrication practices and a basic overview of corrosion and biofouling resisting properties. 2013. 32pp.
    Pub 126 - Resistance to Wear of Aluminium Bronzes
    Design and manufacture, Marine
    alloys, bronze, property, resistance
    Chapter 10 from Harry Meigh's book 'Cast and Wrought Aluminium Bronzes - Properties, Processes and Structure' describing resistance to wear of aluminium bronze alloys. It also gives details of factors affecting wear and information on alloy selection. Pub 126.
    Pub 118 - 90/10 Copper-nickel
    Design and manufacture, Marine
    copper-nickel, marine, seawater
    A four page leaflet highlighting the unique properties of the copper-nickel alloys when used in seawater environments. 1997. 10pp.
    Pub 115 - Aluminium Bronze with Cast Stainless Steels and Ni-resist in Offshore Seawater Environments
    Design and manufacture, Marine
    alloys, applications, bronze, corrosion, offshore, property, seawater
    This report has collated data comparing the physical, mechanical and fabrication properties of cast nickel aluminium bronze (NAB), in particular NES 747 Part 2, with cast standard and super austenitic and duplex stainless steels and Ni-Resist for use in offshore sea water applications. 1996. 22pp.
    Pub 106 - Corrosion Resistance of Copper and Copper Alloys
    gunmetal, alloys, brass, bronze, copper-nickel, coppers, corrosion, nickel silver, resistance
    This large table gives information on the suitability of copper and copper alloys with many different chemicals. Data is given for copper, brass, copper-nickel, aluminium bronze and gunmetals at three temperatures and shows if specific materials can be used with chemicals giving an indication of corrosion resistance. 5pp.
    Pub 086 - Aluminium Bronze, Essential for Industry
    Design and manufacture, Marine
    alloys, bronze, corrosion, Industry, property, resistance, welding electrodes
    Illustrated 8-page leaflet highlighting the main attributes of the important aluminium bronzes including selection criteria, properties, corrosion resistance, welding and machining. 1989. 16pp.
    Pub 085 - Welding Aluminium Bronze
    Design and manufacture, Marine
    alloys, bronze, welding electrodes
    Describes the essential features of good welding practice in relation to the aluminium bronze alloys. 1980. 12pp.
    Pub 083 - Aluminium Bronze Alloys for Industry
    Design and manufacture, Marine
    alloys, applications, bronze, Industry, property
    Describes the properties, applications and fabrication of aluminium bronze alloys. 1986. 24pp.
    Pub 082 - Aluminium Bronze Alloys Technical Data
    Industrial, Design and manufacture, Marine
    alloys, bronze, technical
    Physical and mechanical properties at low, ambient and elevated temperatures are provided for wrought and cast aluminium bronze alloys. 1981. 93pp.
    Pub 081 - Designing Aluminium Bronze Castings
    Design and manufacture, Marine
    alloys, bronze, design, designer
    Reprint of an article published in ‘Engineering’ August 1982 (Tech file 116). The advantages of aluminium bronze casting alloys are discussed with advice on how various design criteria affect casting quality. 1983. 22pp.
    Pub 080 - Aluminium Bronze Corrosion Resistance Guide
    Design and manufacture, Marine
    alloys, applications, bronze, corrosion, resistance
    Survey of published and other information relating to aluminium bronzes in a number of environments. Recommendations are made for materials suitable for many applications. 1981. 30pp.
    Pub 038 - Materials for Seawater Pipeline Systems
    Design and manufacture, Marine
    alloys, applications, copper-nickel, pipelines, seawater
    Gives reasons for choice of 90/10 copper-nickel alloy in preference to other materials for many applications. 1986. 16pp.
    Pub 037 - Copper-nickel Cladding for Offshore Structures
    Design and manufacture, Marine
    alloys, cladding, copper-nickel, corrosion, marine, offshore
    The cost savings available when copper-nickel cladding is used to prevent corrosion and marine biofouling are significant. This publication details how they can be achieved. 1986. 16pp.
    Pub 036 - Use of Copper-nickel Cladding on Ships and Boat Hulls
    Design and manufacture, Marine
    alloys, cladding, copper-nickel, marine, seawater, ship and boat hulls, use
    Description of the use of copper-nickel cladding resistant to corrosion and marine biofouling and its economic advantages. 1985. 16pp.
    Pub 031 - Copper-nickel 90/10 and 70/30 Alloys, Technical Data
    Design and manufacture, Marine
    alloys, copper-nickel, property, technical
    Physical and mechanical properties of the two most commonly encountered copper-nickel alloy types are presented. 1982. 32pp.
    Pub 030 - Copper-nickel Alloys, Properties and Applications
    Design and manufacture, Marine
    alloys, applications, copper-nickel, property
    Details of the composition and properties of the 90/10 and 70/30 copper-nickel alloys are given, together with examples of their applications. 1982. 40pp.
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Related News
  • 24 | 04 Marine Alloys: Pick ‘n Mix Technical Workshops Two leading trade associations have combined forces to offer tailored in-house technical workshops to those needing to better understand the behaviour of copper-based alloys, stainless steels and nickel alloys in marine environments.
  • 01 | 06 Strong Corrosion Performance of Copper Alloys Highlighted at Marine Conference CDA will make an invited presentation—Metals in Marine Environments: Corrosion Behaviour and How to Spot It—to the International Institute of Marine Surveying at this year’s Seawork International Show and Conference, with a focus on the strong contribution copper alloys can make to marine engineering.

Dedicated Website provides a detailed overview of copper-nickel with data to allow good practices in design, fabrication and application.

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