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How to avoid stainless steel leaks and failures

Stainless steel is useful, but it requires a lot of attention and there are many aspects that engineers need to watch out for.

Peter Kentish
06/17/2017
A wine tank perforated in 14 days after being filled with bore water to stabilize it against strong wind conditions when delivered to a winery. The tanks had poor weld fabrication and when filled with high salinity water containing bacteria, which corrode

A wine tank perforated in 14 days after being filled with bore water to stabilize it against strong wind conditions when delivered to a winery. The tanks had poor weld fabrication and when filled with high salinity water containing bacteria, which corroded the 316 stainless steel. Courtesy: Intertek

A wine tank perforated in 14 days after being filled with bore water to stabilize it against strong wind conditions when delivered to a winery. The tanks had poor weld fabrication and when filled with high salinity water containing bacteria, which corrodeStainless steel is an excellent material, but it requires a great deal of attention, something that is often missing when engineers simply specify stainless steel for corrosion resistance, thinking the problems is solved.

Stainless steels are just that, they tend to corrode less than most steels but liquid containing equipment can perforate very quickly. Only one attack site is needed to cause a failure. These groups of materials rely on a complex passive layer that requires a suitable oxidizing environment; too little and the protective passive layer does not adequately form or reform, too much and pitting will accelerate as the passivity is locally destroyed.

What can cause these issues? There are several reasons including:

Peter Kentish, metallurgist, Intertek. This article originally appeared on Intertek‚Äôs blog. Intertek is a CFE Media content partner. Edited by Hannah Cox, content specialist, CFE Media, hcox(at)cfemedia.com.

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