top of page

Is corrosion a "Cultural" matter?

Materials.Business Newsletter ⚙️ July 31th, 2023


The lady's liberty

The Statue of Liberty, an iconic symbol of freedom and democracy, stands tall with 31 tons of copper and 125 tons of steel, making its scrap value a mere $227,610, according to the popular mechanics magazine. While its material worth may not compare to some of the world's most expensive statues, this magnificent monument holds immeasurable cultural and historical value for the American people. The Statue of Liberty serves as a potent reminder of the historical significance of cultural heritage. It stood as a majestic "welcome sign" for almost 14 million immigrants entering the United States through New York between 1886 and 1924. Its enduring presence and the efforts taken to protect and preserve it symbolize the value of cultural icons in society.
Originally designed and built by sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and engineer Gustave Eiffel in Paris during the 1800s, the Statue of Liberty was intended as a gift from France to honor America's 100th birthday in 1876. However, due to delays, the pieces arrived in New York eight years later. The 93-meter (305-foot) tall, 204,000-kilogram (450,000-pound) statue features an iron armature supporting a thin copper skin, creating a classic situation for galvanic corrosion.

Galvanic Corrosion

Galvanic corrosion occurs when two dissimilar metals, such as iron and copper, come into electrical contact within the same electrolyte. The Statue of Liberty suffered extensive damage due to this corrosion phenomenon. Rust and weakening of the armature bars were among the serious consequences. The corrosion issue was addressed in a major restoration project initiated by the National Park Service (NPS) in 1981.
To combat the galvanic corrosion, the NPS enlisted the expertise of metallurgists from the National Bureau of Standards (NBS, now the National Institute of Standards and Technology, NIST). They discovered that the shellac-coated asbestos used to separate the iron from the copper had deteriorated over time, allowing moisture and salt from the ocean air to cause the two metals to react electrically, similar to a battery. This led to galvanic corrosion.
To rectify the situation, the NBS recommended replacing most of the framework in the Statue of Liberty, including rivets, ribs, joints, and connectors, with a corrosion-resistant metal. After extensive testing, a chromium-nickel-molybdenum stainless steel alloy was chosen and coated with nonstick Teflon® to prevent friction and wear.
The restoration project, completed in 1986, proved successful. The chosen stainless steel alloy effectively prevented galvanic corrosion, and subsequent inspections in 1996 confirmed that the corrosion impacts had been reversed, with no new problems detected.


The connection between culture and sustainable development, as recognized by UNESCO, underscores the vital role that cultural heritage plays in shaping our identity and fostering a thriving society. The Statue of Liberty stands as an iconic symbol of the American people, representing freedom and democracy, but its conservation demands meticulous maintenance and protection from the corrosive forces that threaten its structural integrity. The galvanic corrosion that once afflicted this monumental cultural treasure exemplifies the importance of ongoing efforts to safeguard our heritage for future generations. The restoration project, with its meticulous selection of corrosion-resistant materials, demonstrated the critical role maintenance plays in ensuring the longevity of cultural monuments. Preserving these cultural icons not only safeguards their historical and artistic value but also upholds their significance as beacons of hope and inspiration. By recognizing that culture is an integral part of sustainable development, we come to appreciate that investing in the maintenance and protection of assets and monuments is a key pathway towards a sustainable and enriched future.
As UNESCO rightly states, culture is not only a reflection of who we are, but it is also an enabler and driver of sustainable development, making it an essential aspect of human heritage for succeeding generations.


Media partnership announcement!

We are absolutely thrilled as we share the exhilarating news with all our newsletter subscribers, collaborators, and the entire Materials Business community! Our latest podcast episode has been a resounding success, and we extend a heartfelt THANK YOU to each and every one of you who listened, viewed, and generously shared it. In case you missed this remarkable episode, fret not! You can catch up on all the captivating discussions by clicking right here and immersing yourself in the greatness of all the information shared. Remember ALL our episodes have subtitles in almost any language on YouTube, so you can still enjoy it even if you don't speak Spanish (wink*).
The overwhelming response we received has invigorated our commitment to our Vision of closing the gap of SDG#17, and it has spurred us into action. We were thrilled to engage in discussions with the incredible Frank Sarria and their dynamic team at Buy Food with Plastic. And today, we are bubbling with pride and excitement to announce that Materials.Business will be proudly stepping in as the official Media Partner for their exceptional efforts! This partnership is not just a collaboration; it is a powerful testament that greatness truly does begin with an idea. We firmly believe that when we come together, united in the pursuit of a more sustainable future, we can achieve truly remarkable outcomes.
Now, let's dive into the heart of this exhilarating partnership and explore one of the fantastic products that Frank shared with us during the podcast - the "Surf Comb"! This remarkable product is already making waves in Nicaragua, and we are thrilled to share more information with you. To get all the details and learn how you can get your hands on this ingenious creation, don't hesitate to reach out to Frank directly at

Listen on Apple podcast, Spotify or Youtube and make sure to Follow US!


Latest jobs in the industry this week

Environmental Project Manager, WSP, Calgary, Canada
Sustainability Manager, Adecco, Dubai, UAE
Ingeniero en Integridad de Oleoductos Treineer, Rosen, Mexico City, Mexico

Next Podcast Episode

Industry events on the lookout

Materials.Business Newsletter brought to you exclusively by Infinity Growth!


bottom of page