Corrosion resistance of stainless steels during thermal cycling in alkali nitrate molten salts

by Livermore Sandia National Laboratories, CA

Technical Report, 2001


CSP Unique ID 190708622


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SAND Report: SAND2001-8518, September 2001.


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The corrosion behavior of three austenitic stainless steels was evaluated during thermal cycling in molten salt mixtures consisting of NaNO3 and KNO3. Corrosion tests were conducted with Types 316, 316L and 304 stainless steels for more than 4000 hours and 500 thermal cycles at a maximum
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temperature of 565°C. Corrosion rates were determined by chemically descaling coupons. Metal losses ranged from 5 to 16 microns and thermal cycling resulted in moderately higher corrosion rates compared to isothermal conditions. Type 316 SS was somewhat more corrosion resistant than Type 304 SS in these tests. The effect of carbon content on corrosion resistance was small, as 316L SS corroded only slightly slower than 316 SS. The corrosion rates increased as the dissolved chloride content of the molten salt mixtures increased. Chloride concentrations approximating 1 wt.%, coupled with thermal cycling, resulted in linear weight loss kinetics, rather than parabolic kinetics, which described corrosion rates for all other conditions. Optical microscopy and electron microprobe analysis revealed that the corrosion products consisted of iron-chromium spinel, magnetite, and sodium ferrite, organized as separate layers. Microanalysis of the elemental composition of the corrosion products further demonstrated that the chromium content of the iron-chromium spinel layer was relatively high for conditions in which parabolic kinetics were observed. However, linear kinetics were observed when the spinel layer contained relatively little chromium.
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