Intergranular Corrosion of a Type 304 Stainless Steel Fused-Salt Pot Due to Sensitization
A fused-salt electrolytic-cell pot containing a molten eutectic mixture of sodium, potassium, and lithium chlorides and operating at melt temperatures from 500 to 650 deg C (930 to 1200 deg F) exhibited excessive corrosion after two months of service. The pot was a welded cylinder with 3-mm thick type 304 stainless steel walls and was about 305 mm (12 in.) in height and diam. Analysis (visual inspection and 500x micrographs etched with CuCl2) supported the conclusions that the pot failed by intergranular corrosion because an unstabilized austenitic stainless steel containing more than 0.03% carbon had been sensitized and placed in contact in service with a corrosive medium at temperatures in the sensitizing range. Recommendations included changing material for the pot from type 304 stainless steel to Hastelloy N (70Ni-17Mo-7Cr-5Fe). Maximum corrosion resistance and ductility are developed in Hastelloy N when the alloy is solution heat treated at 1120 deg C (2050 deg F) and is either quenched in water or rapidly cooled in air. An alternative, but less suitable, material for the pot was type 347 (stabilized grade) stainless steel. After welding, the 347 should be stress relieved at 900 deg C (1650 deg F) for 2 h and rapidly cooled to minimize residual stresses.