News Release

Suiting up with Al-Mg-Si: New protective coating for steel to resist corrosion in ships and marine and coastal facilities and structures

Scientists develop new anti-corrosion coating to increase the economic life and durability of steel machinery in an environment-friendly manner

Peer-Reviewed Publication

National Korea Maritime and Ocean University

Suiting Up with Al-Mg-Si: New Protective Coating for Steel to Resist Corrosion in Ships and Marine and Coastal Facilities and Structures

image: Scientists develop new anti-corrosion coating to increase the economic life and durability of steel machinery in an environment-friendly manner view more 

Credit: Korea Maritime & Ocean University

One of the most common methods of improving the corrosion resistance of steel is coating it with other metals such as aluminum (Al). But the use of Al in marine applications is limited owing to its tendency to react with chloride ions in sea water, leading to corrosion. The addition of other elements, such as magnesium (Mg) and silicon (Si), to form an alloyed coating is a promising way around this problem. But Mg cannot be easily deposited as a coating using the conventional method of dipping the steel into a hot bath of metal salts.

In a recent study published in Corrosion Science, scientists have developed a new protocol for Al-Mg-Si coating of steel. “When I served in the navy, I was constantly looking at rusting machinery. Since then, I have become fully engaged in research on how to produce better anti-corrosive steels,” says Professor Myeong-Hoon Lee of the Korea National Maritime and Ocean University, who guided the study. This study was made available online on September 9, 2021 and was published in Volume 192 of the journal in November 2021.

In this study, the researchers took aluminized steel (with Al and Si) and then plated it with Mg using a technique called “physical vapor deposition.” This was then followed by exposing the coating to a high temperature of 375° C. They then characterized the coating film and performed corrosion testing in the form of a “salt spray test.” They found that the corrosion products were also formed in two layers: a surface layer made of primarily Al-based corrosion products, and an inner corrosion layer made of Al-, Mg-, and Si- based products. Moreover, the inner layer of corrosion products produced a “shielding effect,” which further improved their anti-corrosion properties.

“Our research reveals how a highly corrosion-resistant steel can be produced using a simple change in the surface treatment protocol. This makes it very meaningful for conserving energy and environmental resources,” explains Prof. Lee.

This new protocol for enhanced corrosion resistance in steel takes a bold but sure step towards a more sustainable future.





Authors: Gi-DongPark1, Ji HoonYang2, Kyung-Hwang Lee2, Hyo-Jin Kim1, Seung-Hyo Lee3, Jun Kang1, Yong-Sup Yun1 and Myeong-Hoon Lee1


  1. Division of Marine System Engineering / Interdisciplinary Major of Maritime AI Convergence, Korea Maritime & Ocean University, Republic of Korea
  2. Materials Performance Research Group, POSCO Steel Solution Research Lab., POSCO Global R&D Center, Republic of Korea
  3. Division of Ocean Advanced Materials Convergence Engineering, Korea Maritime & Ocean University, Republic of Korea



About National Korea Maritime & Ocean University 

South Korea’s most prestigious university for maritime studies, transportation science and engineering, the National Korea Maritime & Ocean University is located on an island in Busan. The university was established in 1945 and since then has merged with other universities to currently being the only post-secondary institution that specializes in maritime sciences and engineering. It has four colleges that offer both undergraduate and graduate courses.



About the author

Professor Myeong-Hoon Lee teaches at Korea Maritime and Ocean University and heads the Center of Surface Corrosion Control Engineering. His team not only studies the causes of corrosion including its examination and evaluation but also performs research in the areas of cathodic protection, hot dipping plating, and plasma coating, etc. Prof. Lee has collaborated with research institutes such as POSCO, LG, KEPRI, etc. in Korea on many studies on corrosion and surface treatment. He began teaching after gaining field knowledge at BV as a surveyor. He was awarded his Ph.D. by Nagoya University in Japan.

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