The implementation of corrosion engineering control methods and techniques is crucial to extend the life of urban and industrial infrastructure assets and industrial equipment affected by natural corrosion. Then, the search of stable and environmentally friendly corrosion inhibitors is an important pending task. Here, we provide experimental evidence on the corrosion inhibitory activity of aqueous extracts of Skytanthus acutus
Meyen leaf, a native plant from the Atacama Desert in northern Chile. Skytanthus
extracts as a powder should be prepared at 55 °C to avoid thermal decomposition and loss of corrosion inhibitory activity. Corrosion of carbon steel AISI1020 immersed in 0.5 M NaCl was evaluated in the presence of different doses of Skytanthus
extract by complementary and simultaneous linear polarization, electrochemical impedance spectroscopy, and weight-loss technique under high hydrodynamic conditions. Mixed Potential Theory was applied to confirm the electrochemical activity of the extract inhibitory capabilities. The Skytanthus
extracts reached a 90% corrosion inhibitory efficiency when tested at 100 to 1200 ppm in a time span of 48 h, through an electrochemical interaction between the extract inhibitor component and the carbon steel surface. The corrosion inhibition activity observed in Skytanthus
dry extracts involves a protective film formation by a mechanism that includes an iron dissolution at the expense of either oxygen reduction and/or hydrogen evolution, followed by a ferrous-ferric iron cycling, the formation of an iron complex and adsorption to the metal surface, and, finally, desorption or degradation of the protecting film. The water-soluble plant extract was subjected to HPLC-MS analyses that rendered 14 major signals, with quinic acid, protocatechuic acid, chlorogenic acid isomers, vanillic acid hexoside, and patuletin 3-methoxy-7-glucoside as the most abundant components. Then, we propose that a phenolic derivative is responsible for the corrosion inhibitory activity found in Skytanthus
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