Elucidating the Corrosion Performance of Type 316L Stainless Steel Product Storage Cans

UoM administered thesis: Phd

  • Authors:
  • Benjamin Krawczyk


Re-processed oxide fuel product from the Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant (THORP) is stored in Type 316L stainless steel, using a design of several nested cans, with the outer can providing the safety case containment barrier. The research reported in this PhD thesis aims to support the safety case related to these storage cans, by identifying and characterising susceptible microstructure sites and associated material surface conditions. The overarching goal of this project is to understand the propensity of THORP storage cans towards localised corrosion and Environment Assisted Cracking (EAC) in HCl and chloride-bearing atmospheric environments. The investigation focused on two possible corrosion cases: (1) understanding the effect of surface finishing on material performance in chloride-containing atmospheric environments, and (2) characterising the effects of the HCl aqueous solutions inside the can, with potential formation of HCl vapour. Microstructure investigations were carried out on surface-treated type 316L coupon specimens. The application of aqua blasting resulted in a deformed near-surface microstructure, containing compressive residual stresses to a depth of 100-120 micrometres. Subsequent laser engraving produced a recrystallized surface layer with tensile residual stresses reaching to a depth of 200 micrometres. Changes of surface roughness topography were accompanied by the development of a thick oxide/hydroxide film after laser engraving. Atmospheric exposure revealed similar corrosion attack for all samples, with laser engraving exhibiting the lowest number of corrosion sites, but with the largest average depth of attack. In addition, laser engraving led to atmospheric-induced stress corrosion cracking (AISCC) within two weeks of exposure to 386 ug/cm2 MgCl2-laden droplet deposits, with crack growth rates similar to ground U-bend samples. Strategies to reduce the likelihood of AISCC of laser-engraved components are discussed. The influence of HCl concentration and exposure temperature on the corrosion type and rate of annealed and cold rolled type 316L stainless steel has also been investigated. Cold rolling of up to 20 % reduction was introduced, with potentio-dynamic polarization measurements conducted in 0.01 - 3 M HCl aqueous solution. Results are compared to microstructures immersed under open circuit conditions, and to HCl-laden droplet deposits at temperatures up to 80C. Corrosion type diagrams are introduced to describe the transition between uniform corrosion, mixed-mode uniform with pitting corrosion, and pitting corrosion only, as a function of temperature, HCl concentration, and cold deformation. SCC tests of type 316L stainless steel have been carried out at 110C, by exposing U-Bend samples to HCl-laden droplets and HCl vapour. The humidity of the environment was controlled using defined volume fractions of H2O in a sealed environmental chamber. HCl-laden droplets with chloride deposition densities exceeding 1.5 ug/cm2 led to SCC after 90 minutes of exposure, whereas no corrosion attack was observed for samples with exposure to 0.15 ug/cm2 HCl. Increasing HCl concentrations resulted in fewer, but longer cracks, reaching up-to several hundreds of micrometres in length. HCl vapour exposure was carried out by adding various volumes of HCl solution in a beaker to the sealed test chambers. These HCl vapour tests confirmed a change of corrosion type with HCl concentration, from pitting corrosion with SCC, to the occurrence of uniform corrosion.


Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Award date1 Aug 2018