A corrosion inhibitor is a chemical compound that, when added to a liquid or gas, decreases the corrosion rate of a material, typically a metal or an alloy, that comes into contact with the fluid. The effectiveness of a corrosion inhibitor depends on fluid composition, quantity of water, and flow regime. Corrosion inhibitors are common in industry, and also found in over-the-counter products, typically in spray form in combination with a lubricant and sometimes a penetrating oil. They may be added to water to prevent leaching of lead or copper from pipes. A common mechanism for inhibiting corrosion involves formation of a coating, often a passivation layer, which prevents access of the corrosive substance to the metal. Permanent treatments such as chrome plating are not generally considered inhibitors, however: corrosion inhibitors are additives to the fluids that surround the metal or related object.
Oilfield scale inhibition is the process of preventing the formation of scale from blocking or hindering fluid flow through pipelines, valves, and pumps used in oil production and processing. Scale inhibitors (SIs) are a class of specialty chemicals that are used to slow or prevent scaling in water systems. Oilfield scaling is the precipitation and accumulation of insoluble crystals (salts) from a mixture of incompatible aqueous phases in oil processing systems. Scale is a common term in the oil industry used to describe solid deposits that grow over time, blocking and hindering fluid flow through pipelines, valves, pumps etc. with significant reduction in production rates and equipment damages. Scaling represents a major challenge for flow assurance in the oil and gas industry. Examples of oilfield scales are calcium carbonate (limescale), iron sulfides, barium sulfate and strontium sulfate. Scale inhibition encompasses the processes or techniques employed to treat scaling problems.