Three separate corrosion mechanisms were involved in the failure of an AISI type 304 stainless steel pipe elbow. The major cracks, including the one that penetrated the wall, tend to be wide-mouthed, tapering to a blunt tip, with corrosion products filling much of the crack space. This was characteristic of corrosion fatigue. The second type of cracking originated at some of the major cracks. These cracks were branched and transgranular, which is characteristic of stress-corrosion caused by chlorides. The third crack mode, an intergranular network, was most probably the result of hydrogen sulphide attack. The 13-year service life of the elbow made it difficult, if not impossible, to determine the order of the corrosion mechanisms or the length of time it took to reach the present state of degradation after the initiation of corrosion. Based on the long service life the present material has given, it was recommended that it be used again.
Philip J. Kenny, Corrosion Fatigue, Stress-Corrosion Cracking and Hydrogen-Sulphide Attack of AISI 304 Stainless Steel, ASM Failure Analysis Case Histories: Chemical Processing Equipment, ASM International, 2019, https://doi.org/10.31399/asm.fach.chem.c9001652
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