corrosion control, copper corrosion, surface roughness, water quality, distribution system, copper solublity, corrosion inhibitor, phosphoric acid, sodium silicate, optical profilometry, lead and copper rule, environmental engineering;


The effects of corrosion inhibitors on water quality and the distribution system were studied. This dissertation investigates the effect of inhibitors on iron surface roughness, copper surface roughness, and copper release. Corrosion inhibitors included blended poly/ortho phosphate, sodium orthophosphate, zinc orthophosphate, and sodium silicate. These inhibitors were added to a blend of surface water, groundwater, and desalinated brackish water. Surface roughness of galvanized iron, unlined cast iron, lined cast iron, and polyvinyl chloride was measured using pipe coupons exposed for three months. Roughness of each pipe coupon was measured with an optical surface profiler before and after exposure to inhibitors. For most materials, inhibitor did not have a significant effect on surface roughness; instead, the most significant factor determining the final surface roughness was the initial surface roughness. Coupons with low initial surface roughness tended to have an increase in surface roughness during exposure, and vice versa, implying that surface roughness tended to regress towards an average or equilibrium value. For unlined cast iron, increased alkalinity and increased temperature tended to correspond with increases in surface roughness. Unlined cast iron coupons receiving phosphate inhibitors were more likely to have a significant change in surface roughness, suggesting that phosphate inhibitors affect stability of iron pipe scales. Similar roughness data collected with new copper coupons showed that elevated orthophosphate, alkalinity, and temperature were all factors associated with increased copper surface roughness. The greatest increases in surface roughness were observed with copper coupons receiving phosphate inhibitors. Smaller increases were observed with copper coupons receiving silicate inhibitor or no inhibitor. With phosphate inhibitors, elevated temperature and alkalinity were associated with larger increases in surface roughness and blue-green copper (II) scales.. Otherwise a compact, dull red copper (I) scale was observed. These data suggest that phosphate inhibitor addition corresponds with changes in surface morphology, and surface composition, including the oxidation state of copper solids. The effects of corrosion inhibitors on copper surface chemistry and cuprosolvency were investigated. Most copper scales had X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy binding energies consistent with a mixture of Cu2O, CuO, Cu(OH)2, and other copper (II) salts. Orthophosphate and silica were detected on copper surfaces exposed to each inhibitor. All phosphate and silicate inhibitors reduced copper release relative to the no inhibitor treatments, keeping total copper below the 1.3 mg/L MCLG for all water quality blends. All three kinds of phosphate inhibitors, when added at 1 mg/L as P, corresponded with a 60% reduction in copper release relative to the no inhibitor control. On average, this percent reduction was consistent across varying water quality conditions in all four phases. Similarly when silicate inhibitor was added at 6 mg/L as SiO2, this corresponded with a 25-40% reduction in copper release relative to the no inhibitor control. Hence, on average, for the given inhibitors and doses, phosphate inhibitors provided more predictable control of copper release across changing water quality conditions. A plot of cupric ion concentration versus orthophosphate concentration showed a decrease in copper release consistent with mechanistic control by either cupric phosphate solubility or a diffusion limiting phosphate film. Thermodynamic models were developed to identify feasible controlling solids. For the no inhibitor treatment, Cu(OH)2 provided the closest prediction of copper release. With phosphate inhibitors both Cu(OH)2 and Cu(PO4)·2H2O models provided plausible predictions. Similarly, with silicate inhibitor, the Cu(OH)2 and CuSiO3·H2O models provided plausible predictions.


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Graduation Date



Taylor, James S.


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science


Civil and Environmental Engineering

Degree Program

Environmental Engineering








Release Date

June 2008

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)