Effects of nitric acid passivation on the pitting resistance of 316 stainless steel
Noh JS., Laycock NJ., Gao W., Wells DB.
Samples of 316 stainless steel have been subjected to passivation treatments at ambient temperature for 1 h in solutions of up to 50 wt% nitric acid. Pitting potentials of the treated samples were measured in 1 M NaCl at 70°C and were shown to vary with the concentration of the pre-treatment; increasing with concentration up to 25 wt% and then decreasing as the acid concentration was further increased. The corrosion potential reached during the passivation treatment increased with acid concentration, such that the highest measured pitting potential was associated with a final passivation potential of 300-400 mV versus SCE. MnS inclusions were at least partially removed by treatment with any nitric acid concentration, whilst chromium enrichment of the film reached a peak value for an acid concentration of 25 wt%. The rate of metastable pitting was also found to vary with the concentration of the acid used in the passivation treatment, as did the probability of a metastable pit becoming stable. A probabilistic pitting model suggests that acid treatment reduces the number of possible pit initiation sites at low potentials, but the most dangerous sites in corrosion terms are also the most difficult to remove by acid treatment. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.