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In the mid-1960s, a rash of costly stress corrosion cracking failures of stainless steel under insulation occurred. A series of tests were performed to establish the failure mechanism and to provide information for prevention. Since that time, the Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) Central Engineering policy has been to use protective coatings on the stainless steel. No special insulation materials, inhibitors, or protective weather barriers have been used to prevent external stress corrosion cracking (ESCC). During these past 20 years, there has been only a few incidents of ESCC of painted stainless steel; therefore a satisfactory pay back on the cost of painting the stainless steel has been realized. There are still questions to be answered, and optimization of the painting practice is taking place. Although painting is not the only way to prevent ESCC, it is a proven procedure that can be accomplished with today's technology.
austenitic stainless steel, corrosion, stress corrosion, insulation, thermal insulation, chloride cracking, external stress corrosion cracking, external stress cracking, protective coatings, paintings, cracks, concentration cell corrosion
Manager of corrosion and materials engineering department, Union Carbide Corporation, Texas City, TX