Corrosive Attack of Stainless Steel Welds in Hot Brine
Type 316L stainless steel pipes carrying brine at 120 deg C (250 deg F) and at a pH of about 7, failed by perforation at or near circumferential butt-weld seams. The failure was examined optically and radiographically in the field. Specimens were removed and examined metallographically and with a SEM in the laboratory. The examinations revealed a combination of failure mechanisms. The pitting failure of the welds was attributed to localized attack of an activated surface, in which anodic pits corroded rapidly. Additionally, SCC driven by residual welding stresses occurred in the base metal adjacent to the welds. Use of highly stressed austenitic stainless steels in high-chloride environments having a temperature above 65 deg C (150 deg F) should be discouraged. Solution annealing or shot peening to reduce residual stresses may be advisable. If heat treatment is not feasible after welding, the substitution of a more corrosion-resistant alloy, such as Incoloy 800 or 825, may be necessary.