History of hot galvanising

Hot galvanising or galvanisation is a process of applying a zinc coating to steel. It provides corrosion resistance and other valuable properties to steel.

Zinc was combined with copper to create an alloy of brass as early as the 10th century BC, but it was not until the 1700s that galvanising steel and iron applications were first discovered.

In 1742, a French chemist named P.J. Melouin presented a paper describing how a zinc coating could be achieved by dipping iron into molten zinc. This was the earliest predecessor of hot galvanising.

In 1824, Sir Humphrey Davy experimented with the corrosion rates of various metals immersed in water. He concluded that attaching steel or galvanised plates to the copper bottom of wooden ships would better protect them from corrosion.

Zinc anodes continued to be used when wooden hulls were replaced by iron and steel. Then, in 1829, Henry Palmer of the London Dock Company patented “indented or corrugated metallic sheets”.

The name “galvanisation” was first applied to a process invented by Stanislas Sorel, a French civil engineer, inventor and chemist. In 1836, he patented a process of cleaning steel and then coating it with zinc by dipping it in molten zinc. He called the galvanisation process the “galvanic” method. This was the beginning of modern hot galvanising.

By 1850, the British galvanising industry used 10,000 tons of zinc annually!

Sir Humphrey Davy
Sir Humphrey Davy