Cadmium may not be the first word that will pop in your head when travel is mentioned. Apparently, it plays a vital role in air travel making it safer for everyone. To make sense out of this surprising new information, let us briefly discuss what cadmium is.
The process of using electrical current to dissolve cadmium so that it will form as a metallic coating to steel (or any other materials) is called cadmium electroplating or simply cadmium plating. In this process, if corrosion occurs cadmium will act as a barrier so the steel will not be affected. To further protect the material after electroplating, chromate conversion coatings can also be applied to the cadmium-plated metal. The most common color that everyone is familiar with is gold. Olive drab and black colored plating are also available but they are not as visually appealing.
Aircrafts, including commercial planes are mostly made of steel. The aircraft industry highly benefits from electroplating because cadmium protects the entire the body of the plane. Materials that are highly exposed to salt-water environments also use cadmium to prevent corrosion. Without cadmium and the process of electroplating, aircrafts will easily corrode making it less safe for travel. Besides, who would want to be on a plane that looks old and rusty. The answering is “No one”.
Cadmium is the main choice as a protective cover because with electroplating, it is almost impenetrable by corrosion compared with other metals like zinc. During aircraft maintenance, the entire plane has to be disassembled, repaired and then reassembled. This process is repeated regularly to maintain the safety of the plane. Cadmium’s stronger resistance to corrosion contributes to the safety of all aircrafts and prevents damages caused by corrosion because of the repetitive maintenance process. Most industries prefer cadmium over zinc because of this characteristic. Also, when cadmium is used as a protective coating on a surface, it prevents molds and bacteria from growing.
When combined with other chemicals, cadmium compound is also used in other equipments. The compound cadmium oxide is used in televisions. Cadmium sulfides serve as protective coating on photocopying machines. Cadmium can also be used as pigments. The most common pigments with cadmium are yellow pigment (CdS) and cadmium red. Painters prefer pigments with cadmium because the colors are brighter and last longer.
It is surprising and a delight to know that Cadmium is continuously making a huge impact in these modern times.