Carbon steel suffer from ‘general’ corrosion, where large areas of the surface are affected. Stainless steel tubes in the passive state are normally protected against this form of attack, however, localised forms of attack can occur and result in corrosion problems.

The assessment of corrosion resistance in any particular environment, therefore, usually involves a consideration of specific corrosion mechanisms.

These mechanisms are principally:

Other related mechanism can also occur, which include:

  • Erosion – corrosion
  • Corrosion fatigue

Localised corrosion is often associated with chloride ions in aqueous environments. Acidic conditions (low PH) and increases in temperature all contribute to localised mechanisms of crevice corrosion and pitting corrosion. The addition of tensile strength, whether applied by loading or from residual stress, provides the conditions for stress corrosion cracking (SCC). These mechanisms are all associated with a localised breakdown of the passive layer. A good supply of oxygen to all surface of the steel is essential to maintaining the passive layer but higher levels of chromium, nickel, molybdenum & nitrogen all help in their individual ways to prevent these forms of attack.Resistance to localised forms of corrosion

As a general rule increased corrosion resistance can be expected by moving through the grades:

1.4512 to 1.4016409 to 430increasing chromium from 11 to 17%
1.4301304adding nickel which aids the reformation of the passive layer if it is disturbed
1.4401316adding molybdenum reduces the effectiveness of chloride ions in locally breaking down the passive layer
1.4539 and 1.4547904L and 6% molybdenum gradesfurther increases in chromium, nickel and molybdenum result in overall improved localised corrosion resistance

Duplex grades such as S32205 (1.4462/S31803) are specifically designed to combat SCC by ‘balancing’ the structure to increase its strength, but additionally molybdenum and nitrogen enhance the pitting resistance, which in turn has the additional benefit in improving their SCC resistance.