Biologically Influenced Corrosion of Stainless Steel Welds by Water
Corrosion in a closed-loop cooling water system constructed of austenitic stainless steel occurred during an extended lay up of the system with biologically contaminated water. The characteristics of the failure were those of microbiologically influenced corrosion (MIC). The corrosion occurred at welds and consisted of large subsurface void formations with pinhole penetrations of the surfaces. Corrosive attack initiated in the heat affected zones of the welds, usually immediately adjacent to fusion lines. Stepwise grinding, polishing, and etching through the affected areas revealed that voids generally grew in the wrought material by uniform general corrosion. Tunneling or worm-holing was also observed, whereby void extension occurred by initiating daughter voids probably at flaws or other inhomogeneities. Selective attack occurred within the fusion zone, i.e., within the cast two-phase structure of the weld filler itself. The result was a void wall which consisted of a rough and porous ferritic material, a consequence of preferential attack of the austenitic phase and slightly lower rate of corrosive attack of the ferrite phase. The three-dimensional spongy surface was studied optically and with the scanning electron microscope.