Corrosion of Stainless Steels

in Marine Environment

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Salinity 4 
Chlorides 5 
pH of Sea Water 5 
Biological Organisms and Dissolved Nutrients in Sea Water 5 
Corrosion Behavior of Stainless Steels 7 
Factors Affecting Pitting and Crevice Corrosion 9 
Pitting Corrosion 9 
Crevice Corrosion 10 
Effect of Environmental Factors on Pitting and Crevice Corrosion 11 
Effect of Chlorides on Stainless Steel Corrosion 11 
Effect of Temperature on Stainless Steel Corrosion 13 
Effect of Crevice Geometry on Stainless Steel Corrosion 14 
Effect of Crevice Geometry on Stainless Steel Corrosion 14 
Effect of Alloying Elements on Stainless Steel 15 
Gaskets 20 
Non-metallic gasket materials 20 
Metallic Gaskets 22 
Selecting the Proper Gasket Material 23 

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The intent of this paper is to gather and combine the existing published knowledge on stainless
steels corrosion in a condensed booklet with a complete overview on the factors governing
material grade selection of stainless steels extensively used in marine environment and to
define the outline specification for selection of gasket materials focusing on the avoidance of
localized corrosion of stainless steels for equipment operating in sea water environment.
The paper is concentrated on the effects of chemical composition and metallurgy of stainless
steels and environmental factors such as sea water composition, temperature and pH, including
the effect of material selection of gaskets for stainless steel equipments in marine environment
operation focusing on reducing localized attack on stainless steel components while effecting
sealing of joints and having corrosion resistance to the operating environment as well.
Extensive references including NACE and other topic related published papers have been used
in preparing this document. All references are mentioned at the end of this report; however, the
references themselves have not been market inside the text.
Choice of stainless steels for use in marine environments will depend upon the particular
environmental situation and the nature of the application. It will be affected by availability, price
and political considerations, as well as the life expectancy. Previous performance in similar
situations will also influence the decision, although this approach is useful, care needs to be
taken as there are often minor differences between apparently similar environments that can
make a large difference to the corrosion rates in practice.
In selecting the grades of stainless steels and gaskets materials for use in marine environment
the designer has to undertake a complex process that includes (to all practical extent) all the
factors affecting the overall performance of the designed system.
The content of this paper alone will not suffice for the un-experienced designer; knowledge
about sea water and chemistry, metallurgy and corrosion is needed for basic understanding of
the complexity of the processes involved.

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Almost anything can be found in seawater. This includes dissolved materials from Earth's crust
as well as materials released from organisms. The most important components of seawater that
influence life forms are salinity, temperature, dissolved gases (mostly oxygen and carbon
dioxide), nutrients, and pH. Each of these components has its specific role in marine corrosion
and influence on marine life.
Seawater is composed mostly of water (B
0) - about 96.5% weight of water. Sediments are
also mostly water; most fine grained surface sediments have porosity (i.e. volume of pores to
volume of solids) of greater than 90%.
Water is called the universal solvent because of its ability to dissolve at least a little of virtually
every substance. Water is a particularly good solvent for substances held together by polar or
ionic bonds; after all, the most abundant substances dissolved in seawater are ionic solids (salts
such as sodium chloride).

The sum of all the ionic solutes in any particular water is known as the “Total Dissolved Solids”
content (TDS) - usually described in units of mg/l (or parts per million, ppm, which to all practical
purposes is identical to mg/l).
Salinity is normally expressed in units of parts by thousand by weight (o/oo). The main oceans
of the world have a TDS of about 33.0 to 35.0 g/l (i.e. a salinity of 33 - 35 o/oo). The total salt
content of seawater varies from place to place and from time to time due to dilution by rivers,
rain or melting ice, or to concentration by evaporation, or to biologically induced changes.
However, in the main oceans of the world, away from any considerable dilution by land
drainage, the TDS, and particularly the relative concentrations of the major ionic species of
seawater are found to be essentially constant (“The Law of Constant Proportions”).
The table below shows the concentration of the major ions in (average) sea water, contributing
to sea water salinity. Major ions are defined as those elements whose seawater concentration is
greater than 1 ppm.
Major Ions Concentration [ o/oo] Proportion of Total Salinity
Chloride (Cl
) 19.345 55.03
Sodium (No
) 10.752 30.59
Sulfate ((S0
) 2.701 7.68
Magnesium (Hg
) 1.295 3.68
Calcium (Co
) 0.416 1.18
Potassium (K
) 0.39 1.11
Bicarbonate ((EC0
) 0.145 0.41
Bromide (Br
) 0.066 0.19
Borate (B(0E)
) 0.027 0.08
Strontium (Sr
) 0.013 0.04
Fluoride (F
) 0.001 0.003
Other 0.001 less than 0.001
(The measurements listed in the table above are from Castro and Huber's, Marine Biology textbook)
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Sea water, by virtue of its chloride content, is a most efficient electrolyte. The omni-presence of
oxygen in marine atmospheres, sea sprays and splash zones at the waterline, and sometimes
surprisingly at much greater depths, increases the aggressiveness of salt attack. The
differential concentration of oxygen dissolved at the waterline or in a droplet of salt spray
creates a cell in which attack is concentrated where the oxygen concentration is lowest.
Crevices which allow ingress of water and chlorides but from which oxygen is excluded rapidly
become anodic and acidic and are hidden start points of corrosion.
With respect to corrosion of stainless steel, of very interest is the total amount of chlorine,
bromine and iodine (halide family), assuming the bromine and iodine have been replaced by
Chlorine is one of the most versatile chemicals used in (sea)water treatment. It is used
extensively as oxidizing agent for:
- Disinfection
- Control of microorganisms
- Removal of ammonia
- Control of taste and odor
- Color reduction
- Destruction of organic matter
- Hydrogen sulfide oxidation
- Iron and manganese oxidation
Although chlorine is beneficial for many uses, its use carries safety and environmental

pH of Sea Water
pH is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a substance and is one of the stable
measurements in seawater. Ocean water has an excellent buffering system with the interaction
of carbon dioxide and water so that it is generally always at a pH of 7.5 to 8.5. Neutral water is a
pH of 7 while acidic substances are less than 7 (down to 1, which is highly acidic) and alkaline
substances are more than 7 (up to 14, which is highly alkaline). Anything either highly acid or
alkaline would kill marine life but the oceans are very stable with regard to pH.

Biological Organisms and Dissolved Nutrients in Sea Water
Whenever a solid material is exposed to an aqueous environment its surface becomes covered
by biological organisms existing in the water and this “biofouling” can cause a variety of
problems including, sometimes, acceleration of corrosion.
The sequence of events when a new surface is exposed begins (usually within a few minutes)
with the surface becoming covered with an extremely-thin layer of substances derived from the
water. These adsorbed materials can be inorganic or organic such as humic acids which are
present in virtually all natural waters.
In effect, this initial layer “conditions’ the surface for subsequent invasion by biological
organisms, the first of which to attach themselves are bacteria. Because it is rich in nutrients,
seawater provides an especially-favorable environment for the support of a large variety of
biological species. In locations where light is available, biological life, which depends upon
photosynthesis, prospers. In these circumstances, the initial chemical conditioning of a freshly-
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exposed surface is quickly followed by the settlement of bacteria and then by single-cell plants
(“diatoms”) and other larger filamentous micro-algal species. Subsequently the surface may be
further colonised by macro-algae (such as seaweeds) which can form a dense biomass.
Eventually animals (e.g. hydroids, barnacles, mussels) begin to settle on the surface.
Fertilizers, like nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P), and potassium (K), are important for plant growth
and are called 'nutrients.' The level of dissolved nutrients increases from animal feces and
decomposition (bacteria, fungi). Surface water often may be lacking in nutrients because feces
and dead matter tend to settle to the bottom of the ocean. Most decomposition is thus at the
bottom of the ocean. In the oceans most surface water is separated from bottom water by a
thermocline (seasonal in temperature and marginal polar regions, constant in tropics) which
means that once surface nutrients get used up (by the plants there) they become a limiting
factor for the growth of new plants hence bio-fouling. Nutrients are returned to surface waters by
a special type of current called 'upwelling' and it is in these areas of upwelling that we find the
highest productivity of marine life. Silica and iron may also be considered important marine
nutrients as their lack can limit the amount of productivity in an area. Silica is needed by diatoms
(one of the main phytoplanktonic organisms that form the base of many marine food chains.
Iron is just recently being discovered to be a limiting factor for phytoplankton.
In unlighted regions, such as at great sea depth, the plants cannot survive and the biofouling
will be much less dense but surfaces are still invaded by bacteria and some animals.
Although different organisms exhibit varying optimum temperatures for growth, many have
significant growth rates in the range 5 - 35°C. Some bacteria can grow down to 0°C and others
(so called “thermophiles”) thrive at temperatures of up to 100°C or even higher. Nevertheless, in
general, problems with bio-organisms are usually of much reduced severity at temperatures
above about 50°C.
Colonization of bio-organisms is more likely in regions of low water velocity. Crevices, joints,
cracks etc in components provide especially-favorable sites for attachment. However, some
water flow past colonies is usually a requirement as a source of food for rapid growth.

In summary, the salinity and pH of seawater are relatively stable measurements whereas
temperature, dissolved oxygen and nutrients may vary.

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Stainless steel is part of a metal alloys class that contains in its composition minimum 10.5%
chromium (Cr).
Stainless steels are characterised by having considerably superior corrosion resistance in most
environments than has carbon steel. This is due to the presence, on the surface of a stainless
steel component, of a very thin layer, adherent and self-regenerating (as long as there is
continuous supply of oxygen), protective layer of chromium-rich oxide (Cr
). Other typical
alloying elements are molybdenum (Mo), nickel (Ni), and nitrogen (N).
There are several general types of stainless steel; in addition, a huge number of stainless steel
grades have been developed to achieve different machining, forming, welding, and corrosion
resistance properties. These different grades include hundreds of names based on proprietary
names and numerous naming conventions including AST, UNS No., BS, DIN, NF and EN.
The limit of corrosion resistance of a given stainless steel depends on its constituent elements
which mean that each grade has a slightly different response when exposed to a corrosive
environment. Care is therefore needed to select the most appropriate grade of stainless steel
for a given application, especially for marine environments where traces of chlorine ions can
lead to deleterious effects in crevice corrosion, exacerbated at higher temperatures and low pH.
Stainless steels may be austenitic, ferritic, martensitic, duplex (a mixture of austenite and ferrite
phases) and precipitation hardening. They are named according to how their microstructure
resembles a similar microstructure in steel. The properties of these classes differ but are
essentially the same within the same class.
Austenitic: Non-magnetic, Non-hardenable by heat treatment, Single phase from 0º (K) to
melting point, Crystallographic form – face centered cubic, Very easy to weld.
Ferritic: Magnetic, Non-hardenable by heat treatment, Crystallographic form – body centered
cubic, Low carbon grades easy to weld.
Martensitic: Magnetic, Heat treatable to high hardness levels, Crystallographic form – distorted
tetragonal, Hard to impossible to weld
Duplex: Magnetic, Non-hardenable by heat treatment, Contains both austenite and ferrite, Easy
to weld.
Precipitation Hardening: Magnetic, Crystallographic form – martensitic with microprecipitates,
Heat treatable to high strength levels, Weldable.
Research and development work has produced stainless steels with improved resistance to
various forms of attack in seawater. The materials fall into three main categories:
- Ferritic steels containing 12-30% Cr, 0-4% Mo with Ti or Nb for stabilization and possibly
up to 4% Ni and low carbon content
- Austenitic steels containing about 17-27% Ni, 8-35% Cr, up to 6% Mo and 0.1-0.2% N.
- Duplex structure steels containing 18-27% Cr, 4-7% Ni, 2-4% Mo and 0.15-0.2% N.

Corrosion Behavior of Stainless Steels
Corrosion is the physico-chemical interaction between a metal and its environment, which
causes changes in metal properties and is followed by a functional degradation of the metal
itself, of its environment or of the technical system of the two factors combined. In general, this
interaction is electro-chemical in its nature.
The corrosion resistance of a stainless steel alloy is primarily related to its Ni, Cr, Mo and N
content. This is often expressed by the so-called PRE number (Pitting Resistance Equivalent).
Higher Ni is beneficial for resisting chloride stress corrosion cracking (SCC) and sulfide stress
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corrosion cracking (SSC) whereas Cr, Mo, W (to lesser degree) and N contribute to localized
corrosion resistance.
The Pitting Resistance Equivalent number (PRE
) has been found to give a good indication of
the pitting resistance of stainless steels; Increasing the molybdenum in the alloy produces
greater resistance to pitting. Therefore high molybdenum-high chromium alloys generally
provide the best pitting resistance (refer also to Figure 1).
Furthermore, the relative effect of Cr, Mo and N on Crevice Corrosion can be assessed with the
same PRE
, Pitting Resistance Equivalent number.

can be calculated as:
= %Cr + 3.3 x %Mo + 16 x %N,
Or, when W is present
= %Cr + 3.3 x (%Mo + 0.5%W) + 16%N

Figure 1 Pitting Corrosion Relationship as a Function of Chloride, pH, and Molybdenum Contents
One reason why pitting corrosion is so serious is that once a pit is initiated there is a strong
tendency for it to continue to grow, even though the majority of the surrounding steel is still
The factors which influence crevice and pitting corrosion are similar. If these types of corrosion
mechanisms occur, no prediction can be made how long it will take for a complete failure of the
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Low alloy stainless steels, such as 316L will suffer crevice corrosion in sea water and all waters
containing more than ~ 1.0 g/l of chloride. Even higher alloy stainless steels, such as 904L and
22%Cr duplex, suffer crevice corrosion in ambient temperature seawater.
Only alloys with a PREN greater than about 40 have been shown to resist crevice corrosion in
ambient seawater.
The table in Annex 1 shows nominal composition of some known stainless steels. For real life
applications, please refer to Makers specification brochures; this table should be used only for
general information as the chemical composition specification may differ from Maker to Maker.

Factors Affecting Pitting and Crevice Corrosion
The factors affecting the crevice corrosion are:
- Bulk solution composition which is defined by Cl
concentration, O2 content, pH and
inhibitor concentration.
- Bulk solution environment: (temperature and agitation)
- Mass transfer mechanism in and out of crevice: migration, diffusion, convection.
- Crevice solution: hydrolysis equilibria.
- Electrochemical reaction: metal dissolution, O2 reduction and H2 evolution.
- Alloy composition: major constituents, minor additions, impurities and microstructure.
- Passive film characteristics: passive current and film stability.
- Crevice type: metal to metal, non-metal to metal and marine growth to metal.
- Crevice geometry: gap and depth.
- Total geometry: ratio of outside metal area to inside crevice area.
- Surface condition.
In practice crevice can be classified into two categories:
Naturally occurring crevices: such as those formed by biofouling, sediments, debris, deposits,
Man-made: those created during manufacturing or fabrication of material components.

Pitting Corrosion
Pitting corrosion is intense local attack at isolated sites, where the passivity has been breached.
These sites are very small and they are anodic to the surrounding areas because of the electric
field across the passive layer. The resultant active/passive cells stimulate intense attack on the
small anodes, driving the growth of the pits and inhibiting the nucleation of new pits in the
immediate vicinities of existing ones. This establishes a pattern of attack at discrete sites widely
distributed over the metal surface.
The pits nucleate after a finite induction time and grow progressively deeper into the metal.
They can perforate thin gauge metal, rendering stainless steel containers unserviceable or
leading to perforation of pipes and fittings etc. even if general attack is insignificant. The pitting
is induced by halide ions, most commonly the Cl
ion or its precursor, the hypochlorite ion, Cl0

but also sometimes the bromide, Br
, ion.
Hence, stainless steels can be attacked by pitting in contact with seawater, marine
atmospheres, acid/chloride mixtures in chemical processes, residual bleach-based
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disinfectants, and photographic materials. The most effective pitting ion is chloride. The bromide
ion is less effective but fluoride, F
and iodide, I
are not normally pitting ions.
For pits to form, the pitting ion must be present at sufficient concentration in the environment to
yield a pitting potential, EPP, and the potential on the metal must exceed it. The potential is
imposed by prevailing cathodic reactions and in natural situations the most likely effective
reaction is the reduction of oxygen dissolved in an acid or in water from the air.
The equilibrium potential for reduction of oxygen dissolved from the air is well above the pitting
potential for the chloride solution and the consequent mixed potential places the current on the
pitting branch, also above the pitting potential for the bromide solution. Hence pitting is
expected in both solutions but inflicting more extensive damage in the chloride solution than in
the bromide solution.
The tendency of the different halogen ions to induce pitting does not correspond with their
increasing electro-negativity and their sequence in the Periodic Table, i.e., iodine, bromine,
chlorine, fluorine. From the values of pitting potentials for chlorine and bromine ions, a pitting
potential for the fluoride ion might be expected at some value less positive than that for the
chloride ion, + 0.4 V (SHE). However, whereas chloride and bromide ions are structure
breaking, the fluoride ion is structure forming and therefore its ability to interact with a
passivated surface is hindered by a solvation shell. Iodide ions are also ineffective as pitting
ions for stainless steels but for a different reason; they are easily oxidized to iodine and cannot
exist in significant concentrations at high positive potentials.

Crevice Corrosion
Areas where the protective Cr-oxide layer can break down can also sometimes be the result of
the way components are designed, for example under gaskets, in sharp re-entrant corners or
associated with incomplete weld penetration or overlapping surfaces. These can all form
crevices which can promote corrosion. To function as a corrosion site, a crevice has to be of
sufficient width to permit entry of the corrodant, but sufficiently narrow to ensure that the
corrodant remains stagnant. Accordingly crevice corrosion usually occurs in gaps a few
micrometers wide, and is not found in grooves or slots in which circulation of the corrodant is
possible. This problem can often be overcome by paying attention to the design of the
component, in particular to avoiding formation of crevices or at least keeping them as open as
possible. Crevice corrosion is a very similar mechanism to pitting corrosion; alloys resistant to
one are generally resistant to both. Crevice corrosion can be viewed as a more severe form of
pitting corrosion as it will occur at significantly lower temperatures than does pitting.
Crevice Corrosion Mechanism
Crevice corrosion is due to enhanced anodic activity in oxygen-starved crevices in a metal
surface as it is for active metals. For stainless steels, the root cause is easier to envision,
because local oxygen starvation leads to passivity breakdown and the establishment of
active/passive cells in which the large open passive surface stimulates corrosion on the oxygen
starved active area in a crevice. Chloride contamination can assist de-passivation where the
degree of oxygen starvation would otherwise be marginal.
This form of attack is generally associated with the presence of small volumes of stagnant
solution in occluded interstices, beneath deposits and seals, or in crevices, e.g. at nuts and rivet
heads. Deposits of sand, dust, scale and corrosion products can all create zones where the
liquid can only be renewed with great difficulty. This is also the case for flexible, porous or
fibrous seals (wood, plastic, rubber, cements, asbestos, cloth, etc.).
Crevice corrosion is encountered particularly in metals and alloys which owe their resistance to
the stability of a passive film, since these films are unstable in the presence of high
concentrations of Cl
and E
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The basic mechanism underlying crevice corrosion in passivatable alloys exposed to aerated
chloride-rich media is gradual acidification of the solution inside the crevice, leading to the
appearance of highly aggressive local conditions that destroy the passivity.
In an interstice, convection in the liquid is strongly impeded and the dissolved oxygen is locally
rapidly exhausted. A few seconds are sufficient to create a "differential aeration cell" between
the small aerated interstice and the aerated remainder of the surface.
As dissolution of the metal M (i.e. stainless steel) continues, an excess of H
ions is created in
the crevice, which can only be compensated by electro-migration of the Cl
ions (more
numerous in a chloride-rich medium and more mobile than 0E
ions). Most metallic chlorides
hydrolyze, and this is particularly true for the elements in stainless steels and aluminium alloys.
The acidity in the crevice increases (pH 1-3) as well as the Cl
ion concentration (up to several
times the mean value in the solution). The dissolution reaction in the crevice is then promoted
and the oxygen reduction reaction becomes localized on the external surfaces close to the
crevice. This "autocatalytic" process accelerates rapidly, even if several days or weeks were
necessary to get it under way.
Crevice corrosion and pitting corrosion are related because they both require stagnant water,
chloride, and oxygen or carbon dioxide. The mechanism of corrosion is very similar for both.

Effect of Environmental Factors on Pitting and Crevice Corrosion
The severity of the environmental factors is very largely dependent upon two factors – the
chloride content and temperature - and the resistance of a particular steel to pitting and crevice
corrosion is usually described in terms of % Cl
(or ppm Cl
) and
C it can resist. The most
common grade of stainless steel, type 304, may be considered susceptible to pitting and crevice
corrosion in sea water (2% or 20000 ppm Chloride, Cl
) above about 10
C, and even in low
chloride content water may be susceptible at only slightly elevated temperatures. A safe
chloride level for warm ambient temperatures is generally about 150 ppm (150mg/l). Grade 316
is more resistant and is commonly used in ambient sea water, but can be attacked in crevices or
if the temperature increases even slightly.
The velocity of liquid is also significant; a stagnant solution is more likely to result in pitting and
crevice corrosion attack, particularly if there are particles to settle out of the liquid.
There may be also problems from stress corrosion cracking (SCC) if austenitic stainless steels
are used in chloride containing water at temperatures over about 60
In general, all stainless steels can be considered susceptible to pitting and crevice corrosion,
but their resistance vary widely. Their resistance is a measure of their content of Cr, Mo and N.
Another factor of importance is the presence of certain metallurgical phases (in particular
grades 303, 416 and 430F containing inclusions of manganese sulphide) that has very low
resistance, and ferrite may be harmful in austenitic grades in severe environments.
A clean and smooth surface finish improves the resistance to attack. Contamination by mild
steel or “free iron” greatly accelerates attack initiation.

Effect of Chlorides on Stainless Steel Corrosion
Chlorides are one of the most common elements in nature and they're also soluble – active
ions; the basis for good electrolytes, the best conditions for corrosion or chemical attack;
naturally, chlorides are present in high concentration in the seawater and can occur in marine
systems (e.g. pipeline systems, etc), destabilizing until breakdown the protective passive layer
of stainless steel alloys, thus causing:
- pitting corrosion
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- crevice corrosion
- stress corrosion cracking
In chemically pure water, molecular chlorine reacts with water and rapidly hydrolyzes to
hypochlorous acid (E0Cl) and hydrochloric acid (ECl).
At pH levels above 4.0 and in dilute solutions, the hydrolysis reaction is completed within a
fraction of a second. For all practical purposes the reaction is irreversible. Hypochlorous acid is
a weak acid and dissociates to form a hydrogen ion and a hypochlorite ion.
The concentration or distribution of each species at equilibrium depends on pH and
temperature. Between pH 6.5 and 8.5, the dissociation reaction is incomplete, and both
hypochlorous acid and hypochlorite ions are present. The equilibrium ratio at any given pH
remains constant even if the hypochlorous acid concentration is decreasing. At constant pH and
increasing temperature, chemical equilibrium favours the 0Cl
ion over E0Cl.
The primary oxidizing agents in water are hypochlorous acid and the hypochlorite ion, although
hypochlorite has a lower oxidizing potential. Oxidizing potential is a measure of the tendency of
chlorine to react with other materials. The speed at which these reactions occur is determined
by pH, temperature, and oxidation/reduction potential. As pH increases, the chemical reactivity
of chlorine decreases; as temperature increases, reactions proceed more rapidly. The oxidation
reactions of chlorine with such inorganic reducing agents as sulphides, sulphites, and nitrites
are generally very rapid. Some dissolved organic materials also react rapidly with chlorine, but
the completion of many organic-chlorine reactions progress very slow.
Chlorine is added to seawater to prevent marine growth which would cause tube blockage
resulting in loss of heat transfer or impingement attack. The required level of chlorine is between
0.2 to 0.5 ppm for biofouling control. Provided that these levels are not significantly exceeded,
the majority of seawater materials will not suffer accelerated corrosion. In fact, in many
instances, the corrosion rate may be reduced by adding chlorine. However, if the dosing levels
are exceeded, severe pitting attack will occur on stainless steel alloys.
An oxygen concentration cell may also form if there is a depletion of oxygen in the dead space
in the lap joint. If the material is stainless steel and there are high levels of chlorine in the water,
the chlorine will attack metal in the dead space between the two pieces of metal, breaking down
the passive film.
Concentration cells can form in any crevice in watering systems and corrosion is more likely to
occur with the use of chlorine or hydrochloric acid. Corrosion may be accelerated if there are
large amounts of organic material and very low levels of oxygen in the water along with the use
of chlorine. Oxygen is necessary to maintain the passive film.
The pitting corrosion is generated when the film is broken by chlorine ion or slip step, the pitting
corrosion grows to crack when the volume of hydrogen ion in pitting corrosion increases and
crack grows according to continuous increase of hydrogen ion and its reduction reaction.
Chlorine catalyzes the formation of hydrogen which hardens and embrittles the metal locally,
causing concentration of the stress and a microscopic crack. The chlorine moves into the crack,
continuing the process. The direct current source reverses the natural polarity and allows the
materials to act like anodes. Instead of corrosion of the anodes, some other oxidation reaction,
that is, oxygen or chlorine evolution occurs at the anodes, and the anodes are not consumed.
Chloride, (Cl
) – Chloride ions are strongly adsorbed by steel, making it difficult to passivate.
Therefore, the higher the concentration of the chloride ion, the higher the concentration of
passivating inhibitor required.
At the higher pH values of the low chromate or non-chromate treatments, the biocidal
effectiveness of chlorine is reduced, so larger quantities of chlorine are required or alternatively,
non-oxidizing biocides such as chlorophenates, quaternary nitrogen compounds, etc., are
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Effect of Temperature on Stainless Steel Corrosion
With increasing temperature, the contribution of chloride increases but the effect of hydrogen
decreases due to its increased mobility in the ferrite matrix. The net result is a maximum
susceptibility in the region 60-100°C. A number of secondary factors have also been identified,
including amount of ferrite, surface condition, presence of cold work and heat tint at welds.
Pitting potential, E
, of “super-austenitic” and duplex stainless steels decreases with PH,
temperature and concentration of chloride increase.

Figure 2 Pitting Potential in 3.5% NaCl Solutions
A parameter, which is sometimes used to provide an indication of the relative resistances of
different grades of stainless steel to the onset of pitting or crevice corrosion at elevated
temperatures, is the Critical Pitting Temperature (CPT) i.e. the minimum solution temperature at
which pitting is first observed.
There is a critical crevice temperature (CCT) for the initiation of crevice corrosion; below this
corrosion will not occur. The CCT is a function of crevice geometry and environment for each
alloy composition. The greater the difference between the CCT and the operating temperature,
the greater the probability that crevice corrosion will occur.
Recommended maximum chlorine levels for super duplex stainless steels at different sea water
temperatures are mentioned bellow (refer also to Figure 1):
Chlorine Level
10 200.0
20 5.0
30 1.0
40 0.7
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Figure 3 CCT as a Function of the PREN

Effect of Crevice Geometry on Stainless Steel Corrosion
The crevice geometry has great influence on the resistance of stainless steel alloys. Under
torque the crevice gap is not changing the relative ranking of the stainless steel alloys; however,
with higher torque there will be an increase in the number of initiation sites and increasing depth
of attack with respect to propagation resistance.

Effect of Crevice Geometry on Stainless Steel Corrosion
The resistance to crevice corrosion initiation is strongly influenced by surface roughness and
pre-treatment, a pickled and rough surface being better than either a ground or highly polished
Other investigation showed that in natural sea water, the resistance to crevice corrosion is
higher when electro-polishing is used while resistance decreases with the use of grinded

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Effect of Alloying Elements on Stainless Steel
Each alloying element have a specific role in stainless steels composition, whether that be
metallurgical reason or corrosion resistance reason.
Carbon (C): Iron is alloyed with carbon lo make steel and has the effect of increasing the
hardness and strength of iron. Pure iron cannot be hardened or strengthened by heat treatment
but the addition of carbon enables a wide range of hardness and strength. In austenitic and
ferritic stainless steels high carbon content is undesirable, especially for welding due to the
threat of carbide precipitation.
Manganese (Mn): Mn is added to steel to improve hot working properties and increase
strength, toughness and hardenability. Mn, like Ni, is an austenite forming element. Mn content
of less than 0.1% gives higher resistance to crevice corrosion of stainless steels.
Chromium (Cr): A minimum of about 10.5% Cr is necessary to form a stable Cr passive film
that is sufficient to protect steel against mild atmospheric corrosion. The corrosion resistance of
a stainless steel increases with increasing Cr content. Cr is a ferrite former, meaning that the
addition of Cr promotes the body centered cubic structure of iron. At higher Cr contents, more Ni
is necessary to form an austenitic or duplex (austenitic-ferritic) structure. Higher Cr also
promotes the formation of intermetallic phases. There is usually at least 16% Cr in austenitic
stainless steels and at least 20% of Cr in duplex grades. Cr also increases the oxidation
resistance at elevated temperatures. This Cr effect is important because of its influence on the
formation and removal of oxide scale or heat tint resulting from heat treatment or welding.
Duplex stainless steels are more difficult to pickle and heat tint removal is more difficult than
with austenitic stainless steels.
Nickel (Ni): Ni is an austenite stabilizer, which promotes a change of the crystal structure of
stainless steel from body-centered cubic (ferritic) to face-centered cubic (austenitic). Ferritic
stainless steels contain little or no nickel, duplex stainless steels contain low to intermediate
amount of nickel such as 1.5 to 7%, and the 300-series austenitic stainless steels, contain at
least 6% nickel. The addition of nickel delays the formation of detrimental intermetallic phases in
austenitic stainless steels but is far less effective than nitrogen in delaying their formation in
duplex stainless steels. The face-centered cubic structure is responsible for the excellent
toughness of the austenitic stainless steels. Its presence in about half of the microstructure of
duplex grades greatly increases their toughness relative to ferritic stainless steels.
Molybdenum (Mo): Mo acts to support chromium in providing pitting corrosion resistance to
stainless steels. When the Cr content of a stainless steel is at least 18%, additions of Mo
become about three times as effective as chromium additions against pitting and crevice
corrosion in chloride-containing environments. Mo is a ferrite former and also increases the
tendency of a stainless steel to form detrimental intermetallic phases. Therefore, it is usually
restricted to less than about 7.5% in austenitic stainless steels and 4% in duplex stainless
Nitrogen (N): Nitrogen increases the pitting and crevice corrosion resistance of austenitic and
duplex stainless steels. It also substantially increases their strength and, in fact, it is the most
effective solid solution strengthening element and a low-cost alloying element. The improved
toughness of nitrogen bearing duplex stainless steels is due to their greater austenite content
and reduced intermetallic content. Nitrogen does not prevent the precipitation of intermetallic
phases but delays the formation of intermetallics enough to permit processing and fabrication of
the duplex grades. Nitrogen is added to highly corrosion resistant austenitic and duplex
stainless steels that contain high chromium and molybdenum contents to offset their tendency
to form sigma phase. Nitrogen is a strong austenite former and can replace some nickel in the
austenitic stainless steels. Nitrogen reduces the stacking fault energy and increases the work
hardening rate of the austenite. It also increases the strength of austenite by solid solution
strengthening. In duplex stainless steels, nitrogen is typically added and the amount of nickel is
adjusted to achieve the desired phase balance. The ferrite formers, chromium and
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molybdenum, are balanced by the austenite formers, nickel and nitrogen, to develop the duplex
Copper (Cu): Cu is normally present in stainless steel as a residual element. However, it is
added to a few alloys to produce precipitation hardening properties or to enhance corrosion
resistance particularly in sea water environments and sulfuric acid. Low Cu content gives
resistance against local corrosion. Cu above 0.75% tends to corrode in high chloride
environments. For seawater pitting resistance PRE
must be greater than 32.
Titanium (Ti): Ti is added for carbide stabilization especially when the material is to be welded.
It combines with carbon to form Ti carbides, which are quite stable and hard to dissolve in steel,
which tends to minimize the occurrence of inter-granular corrosion. Adding approximately 0.25-
0.60% Ti causes the carbon to combine with Ti in preference to Cr, preventing a tie-up of
corrosion-resisting Cr as inter-granular carbides and the accompanying loss of corrosion
resistance at the grain boundaries. However, the use of Ti has gradually decreased over recent
years due to the ability of steelmakers to deliver stainless steels with very low carbon contents
that are readily weldable without stabilization.
Phosphorus (P): P is usually added with S, to improve machinability. The P present in
austenitic stainless steels increases strength. However, it has a detrimental effect on corrosion
resistance and increases the tendency of the material to crack during welding.
Sulfur (S): When added in small amounts S improves machinability. Addition of S in stainless
steel composition in range of 0.5-1.5% gives little effect on resistance to crevice corrosion
initiation, but the corrosion resistance increases as S levels below 0.5%. Like P, S has a
detrimental effect on corrosion resistance (see above concentrations) and weldability.
Selenium (Se): Se was previously used as an addition to improve machinability.
Niobium (Nb): Nb is added to steel in order to stabilize carbon, and, as such, performs in the
same way as described for Ti. Nb also has the effect of strengthening steels and alloys for high
temperature service.
Silicon (Si): Si is used as a deoxidizing (killing) agent in the melting of steel and as a result
most steels contain a small percentage of Si.
Cobalt (Co): Co becomes highly radioactive when exposed to the intense radiation of nuclear
reactors, and, as a result, any stainless steel that is in nuclear service will have a Co restriction,
usually approximately 0.2% maximum. This problem is emphasized because there is normally a
residual Co content in the Ni used in producing austenitic stainless steels.
Calcium (Ca): Small additions are used to improve machinability, without the detrimental effects
on other properties caused by S, P & Se.
The effect of alloying elements present in stainless steel, in stabilizing either austenite or ferrite,
can be summarized as follows:
- Cr, Si, Mo, Al, Nb, Ti, W – ferrite formers
- Co, Mn, Cu, C, N – austenite formers
Chromium is the most important element in stainless steel recipes acting as a ferrite former.
Iron-chromium alloys with more than 10-12% Cr remain ferritic at all temperatures down to
ambient. On the other hand, Ni tends to stabilize austenite and, with sufficient Ni (depending
upon Cr content), a stainless steel can be produced which is fully austenitic at ambient
Cr, Ni and Mo improve the corrosion resistance by shifting the critical pitting potential in the
noble direction; Mo proves to be the most effective element for this reason.

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Stainless steels are an important group of materials for seawater systems. This group of
materials, including high alloyed austenitic and super-duplex type materials, was primarily
introduced with the aim to reduce maintenance costs involved with materials as carbon steel
with internal linings and coatings. However, in some marine environments (e.g. offshore
platforms) the leak frequency in seawater stainless steel piping systems has been high resulting
in unacceptable maintenance costs.
Choice of stainless steels for use in marine environments (e.g. seawater pipeline systems) will
depend upon the particular environmental situation and the nature of the application. It will be
affected by availability, price and political considerations, as well as the life expectancy;
previous performance in similar situations will also influence the decision.
Austenitic, ferritic and duplex stainless steels have improved resistance to various forms of
attack in seawater. The main advantages of such stainless steels in the seawater pipeline
application are their immunity to impingement attack in high velocity seawater and their good
mechanical properties. Pipes can be of smaller diameter and thinner wall compared with
competitive materials, the pipe size being governed by considerations of the economics of
pumping, noise generation, vibration (number of supports), etc. rather than by material
limitations. This assists the economic case for the use of stainless steels, particularly in
situations where weight saving is important.
The resistance of the Mo containing stainless steels to crevice corrosion and pitting in service
has been assesses, and along with investigations by laboratory tests and field trials, has been
found that they are better in this respect than the traditional stainless steels. However, a much
wider range of environmental conditions occur in practice including variations in inorganic and
organic composition of seawater and temperature. The behavior of complex fabricated seawater
circulating systems, with a variety of types and forms of materials, in these changeable
environments has yet to be demonstrated. So far, laboratory tests have shown that such
stainless steels offer better pitting and crevice corrosion resistance, and in some cases
complete resistance; however, field trials have shown different results, and these contradictions
are due to different test environments and the synthetic sea water used in laboratories.
The effect of chloride (halogens) on crevice corrosion (break down of the chromium-rich passive
protective layer) and the full scale effect of the phenomena are still to be investigated until
complete understanding of mechanisms/processes involved.
To all practical extent, it may be said that stainless steel grades high in the alloying elements Cr
and especially Mo and N are more resistant. This is the reason for the use of grade 316 (2%Mo)
as the standard for marine fittings, and also explains the selection of duplex grade 2205
(S31803) with 3%Mo and a deliberate addition of 0.15%N for resistance to higher chlorides at
higher temperatures. More severe chloride-containing environments can be resisted by the
"super austenitic" grades (e.g. N08904 and S31254) with up to 6%Mo and by the "super duplex"
grades (e.g. S32750 and S32520) with very high Cr, Mo and N additions. The use of these
grades can extend the useful resistance in high chloride environments up to close to boiling
Apart from chemical composition of stainless steels, fabrication, welding and (where applicable)
heat treatment procedures have to be considered carefully for all the different types of
metallurgical structure and thicknesses of material involved so that the metallurgical as well as
the mechanical integrity of welds can be guaranteed, avoiding any possibility of preferential
attack at welds. The usual NDT procedure of radiography will not provide information about the
presence of detrimental phases in the metallurgical structure.
Assurance is required about the resistance to crevice corrosion and pitting not only in flowing
seawater, but also in the external marine environment, e.g. under laggings, sheathing, brackets,
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etc. Some applications would present particularly severe conditions in this respect, e.g.
conveyance of hot brine in desalination plants.
Stainless steels readily suffer micro and macro biofouling in natural seawater and unless steps
are taken to control fouling, systems would readily clog up. This film increases the corrosion
potential of the steel and thus, also the risk of pitting and crevice corrosion. The activity of the
bio-film is temperature related, but since the different organisms are adapted to the natural
temperature of the water, their activity varies between different seas around the world. This
means that in cold seas the natural water is most aggressive at 25-30
C while the
corresponding value in tropical seas is just above 30
C. The biological activity ceases at high
In many sea water systems the water is chlorinated with either chlorine or hypochlorite solution
to reduce the risk of fouling. Both chlorine and hypochlorite are strong oxidizing agents and they
cause the corrosion potential of the steel surface to exceed what is normal in non-chlorinated
sea water, which in turn means increased risk of corrosion. In chlorinated sea water the
aggressiveness increases as the temperature rises.
In selecting the grades of stainless steels for pipework in marine environment the designer has
to undertake a complex process that includes (to all practical extent) all the factors affecting the
overall performance of the designed system.
The costs of the various special stainless steels in relation to competitive materials have to be
analyzed, particularly when taking into consideration the costs of components as well as pipes.
The best economic case can be made where the incentive to save weight and space is
greatest, e.g. on offshore platforms, but it is here that the financial penalties of unsatisfactory
performance are also greatest.
(Too)Often in marine engineering, the most revealing guide to material selection is the simple
consideration of what has been used before (in a similar environment), what was the service life
and how and when did it corrode. For resistance to environments such as strong acids, where
uniform general corrosion is the controlling mechanism, there are published tables of
recommended grades, and iso-corrosion curves that indicate the rate at which the steel can be
expected to corrode. These are usually constructed so that several grades can be compared,
and the applicable one selected for the expected environment. Although this approach is useful,
care needs to be taken as there are often minor differences between apparently similar
environments that can make a large difference to the corrosion rates in practice.
Local corrosion is very frequently the mechanism by which stainless steels are likely to corrode.
The related mechanisms of pitting and crevice corrosion are very largely controlled by the
presence of chlorides in the environment, exacerbated by elevated temperature.
In considering behavior in seawater, account has to be taken of many factors including:
- Rate of general and/or localized corrosion under steady state flow conditions
- Possibility of crevice corrosion and of deposit attack or pitting, particularly under
stagnant or slowly moving conditions
- Resistance to stress corrosion cracking
- Effect of variations in composition of seawater including salinity, oxygen content,
suspended material, pollutants, etc.
- Effect of chlorination of seawater
- Velocity limitations
- Effect of variation of temperature, possible spheres of operation being anywhere from
arctic to tropical regions. In some applications hot brine has to be handled.
- Possible galvanic effects between different materials.
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Before selecting a grade of stainless steel it is essential to consider the required properties such
as corrosion resistance, but it is also important to consider the secondary properties such as the
physical and mechanical properties and the ease of fabrication of any candidate grades. The
correct choice will be rewarded not just by long, trouble-free life, but also by cost-effective
fabrication and installation.
The factors that are relevant in choosing stainless steels for marine environments applications
- Resistance to corrosion by seawater over a wide range of operating conditions
- Resistance to corrosion by the external environment
- Resistance to marine biofouling
- Permissible water velocities
The physical and mechanical properties of the material (e.g. the thermal expansion rates of the
ferritic grades are similar to that of mild steel and only 2/3 that of austenitic grades such as 304)
Ability to cut, machine, bend and perform other fabricating operations
Availability of suitable jointing techniques and of NDT methods to confirm the quality and
serviceability of joints
Availability of comprehensive ranges of components to enable complete systems to be
assembled, including compatible pumps, valves, heat exchangers, etc
Existence of adequate and reliable supplies of pipes and components and free availability of
raw materials for their fabrication
- Initial cost of pipe and components and costs of fabricating and installing systems
- Life expectancy and the value of scrap when the system is dismantled
- Demonstrable reliability based on adequate service experience
- Ability to withstand hazards during construction and service, eg. mechanical damage,
It must also be borne in mind that in the marine environment external corrosion of piping
systems can be a hazard, e.g. occurrence of crevice corrosion due to ingress of chloride
beneath sheathings, laggings, brackets, etc. There have been many recorded cases of piping
systems failing prematurely from the outside.

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Gaskets are metallic or non-metallic elements used to create a static seal between two
stationary members of a mechanical assembly and to maintain that seal under operating
conditions which may vary dependent upon changes in pressures and temperatures.
In practice, gaskets would not be required if it were possible to have perfectly mated flanges
and if it were possible to maintain an intimate contact of these perfectly mated flanges
throughout the extremes of operating conditions.
The above mentioned situation(s) are practically impossible, mainly because of:
- The size of the vessel and/or the flanges
- The difficulty in maintaining such extremely smooth flange finishes during handling and
- Corrosion and erosion of the flange surfaces during operations
The consequence of all these is that in practice, relatively inexpensive gaskets are used to
provide the sealing element in these mechanical assemblies. In most cases, the gasket
provides a seal by external forces flowing the gasket material into the imperfections between
the mating surfaces. It follows then that in a properly designed gasket closure, three major
considerations must be taken into account in order for a satisfactory seal to be achieved:
- Sufficient force must be available to initially seat the gasket. Stating this way, adequate
means must be provided to flow the gasket into the imperfections in the gasket seating
- Sufficient forces must be available to maintain a residual stress on the gasket under
operating conditions to ensure that the gasket will be in intimate contact with the gasket
seating surfaces to prevent blow-by or leakage.
- The selection of the gasket material must be such that it will withstand the pressures
exerted against the gasket, satisfactorily resist the entire temperature range to which the
closure will be exposed and withstand corrosive attack of the confined medium.
Gaskets can be separated in two broad categories, non-metallic and metallic gaskets.
In marine environment, most sea water systems rated up to 10 bar make use of non-metallic
gaskets i.e. low pressure systems, but high pressures sea water systems operate at higher
pressures of 65 to 100 bar.
Above this limit and up to 100 bar, non-metallic gaskets are not suitable anymore to retain the
pressure at flanged joints.
Of the two types, non-metallic gaskets are by far the most widely used.

Non-metallic gasket materials
There are many different types of gasket material. Gaskets are commonly produced by cutting
from sheet materials, such as gasket paper, rubber, silicone, metal, cork, felt, neoprene, nitrile
rubber, fiberglass, or a plastic polymer (such as polychlorotrifluoroethylene).
Natural Rubber
The outstanding strength of natural rubber has maintained its position as the preferred material
in many engineering applications. It has a long fatigue life and high strength even without
reinforcing fillers. Natural rubber has good resistance to mild acids and alkalies, salts and
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chlorine solutions. It has poor resistance to oils and solvents and is not recommended for use
with ozone. Its temperature range is very limited and is suitable only for use from -57°C to 93°C.
Red Rubber (Styrene-Butadiene), SBR
SBR is a synthetic rubber that has excellent abrasion resistance and has good resistance to
weak organic acids, alcohols, moderate chemicals and ketones. It is not good in ozone, strong
acids, fats, oils, greases and most hydrocarbons. Its temperature limitations are approximately -
54°C to 121°C.
Neoprene (Chloroprene)
Chloroprene is a synthetic rubber that is suitable for use against moderate acids, alkalies and
salt solutions. It has good resistance to commercial oils and fuels. It is very poor against strong
oxidizing acids, aromatic and chlorinated hydrocarbons. Its temperature range would be from
approximately -54°C to 121°C.
Nitrile, NBR (Buna-N Rubber or Nitrile Butadiene Rubber)
Buna-N is a synthetic rubber that has good resistance to oils and solvents, aromatic and
aliphatic hydrocarbons, petroleum oils and gasolines over a wide range of temperature. It also
has good resistance to caustics and salts but only fair acid resistance. It is poor in strong
oxidizing agents, chlorinated hydrocarbons, ketones and esters. It is suitable over a
temperature range of approximately -54°C to 121°C.
Fluorocarbon (FKM, Fluorel or Viton)
Fluorocarbon elastomer has good resistance to oils, fuel, chlorinated solvents, aliphatic and
aromatic hydro-carbons and strong acids. It is not suitable for use against amines, esters,
ketones or steam. Its normal temperature range would be between -26°C and 232°C.
ChloroSulfonated Polyethelene (Hypalon)
This is a material with Neoprene polychloroprene 'plus' qualities. This material has good acid,
alkali and salt resistance. It resists weathering, sunlight, ozone, oils and commercial fuels such
as diesel and kerosene. It is not good in aromatics or chlorinated hydrocarbons and has poor
resistance against chromic acid and nitric acid. Its normal temperature range would be between
-10°C and 135°C.
EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer)
This synthetic material has good resistance to strong acids, alkalies, salts and chlorine
solutions. It is not suitable for use in oils, solvents or aromatic hydrocarbons. Its temperature
range would be between - 57°C and 177°C.
Graphite (GRAFOIL®)
This is an all graphite material containing no resins or inorganic fillers. It is available with or
without a metal insertion. Grafoil has outstanding resistance to corrosion against a wide variety
of acids, alkalies and salt solutions, organic compounds, and heat transfer fluids, even at high
temperatures. It does not melt, but does sublimate at temperatures over 3316°C. Its use against
strong oxidizing agents at elevated temperatures should be investigated very carefully. In
addition to being used as a gasket, Grafoil makes an excellent packing material and is also
used as a filler material in spiral-wound gaskets. Provided it never contacts sea water, it should
not cause a corrosion problem. If the windings are damaged prior to installation, so that the
graphite is exposed to sea water, then there is a possibility of galvanic corrosion of the flange
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PTFE (PolyTetraFluoroEthylene), PLASTICS
Of all the plastics, PTFE has emerged as the most common plastic gasket material PTFE's
outstanding properties include resistance to temperature extremes from -96°C to 232°C (for
virgin material). PTFE is highly resistant to chemicals, solvents, caustics and acids except free
fluorine and alkali metals. It has a very low surface energy and does not adhere to the flanges.
PTFE gaskets can be supplied in a variety of forms both as virgin material or reprocessed
material and also with a variety of filler material such as glass, "carbon, molybdenum disulfite,
etc. The principal advantage in adding fillers to PTFE is to inhibit cold flow or creep relaxation.
Envelope gaskets utilizing PTFE jacket have become popular for use in severely corrosive
services because of their low minimum seating stresses, excellent creep resistance, high
deformability and choice of a variety of filler materials to assure optimum performance on any
specific application. Fillers such as corrugated metal and rubber sheets are available.
Temperature limits of gasketing materials are not absolute figures. Materials within any category
may vary depending upon a manufacturer's processing techniques, grades and types of raw
materials used, etc,
In addition, flange design and application peculiarities may influence the temperature limit of a
material to a greater or lesser degree.
A "Rule of Thumb" guide for the selection of gasket materials has evolved over the years. This
value is arrived at by multiplying operating pressure times operating temperature.

Rubber 15000 121
Vegetable Fiber 40000 121
Solid Fluorocarbon 75000 260

Metallic Gaskets
Spiral-wound gaskets
Spiral-wound gasket utilizes a mix of metallic material and "filler material" generally the gasket
has a chosen metal, normally a carbon rich or stainless steel, wound (hence the name)
outwards in a circle (although other shapes are possible this is the primary) with the filler
material, generally a flexible graphite, starting at the opposite side of the circle and winding in
the same direction. This leads to a growing circle of alternating layers of filler and metal. These
gaskets have proven to be reliable in most applications and although more expensive than solid
material they do not require as high of bolt forces to be effective. This is possible mainly
because the graphite makes the primary seal with the flange and the metal only acts to keep the
gasket structurally sound.
Spiral Wound Gasket Materials
In high pressure sea water systems (pressures from 65 to 100 bar), spiral wound gaskets are
the most suited type of gaskets to be used.
The most common type of these gaskets utilizes 316 stainless steel or alloy 400 and both
proved to have good corrosion resistance in ambient sea water; however, they suffer severe
attack in crevices in sea water, and this can lead to attack on high alloy stainless steels
adjacent to them. This corrosion mechanism is related to very low pH drops and in presence of
chlorides the environment becomes sufficiently aggressive to attack both super austenitic and
super duplex stainless steels.
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Metal Winding Strip for Spiral Wound Gaskets for use in Sea Water Environment
Alloys for SWG
Compatible with HASS
Alloys for SWG
NOT Recommended with HASS
SuperDuplex Stainless Steels 22%Cr Duplex Stainless Steel
6% Mo Austenitic Stainless Steels Alloy 400
Alloy 625 316 Stainless Steels
Alloy C-276 317L Stainless Steel
Alloy 59 904L Stainless Steel
Titanium Alloy 825
see also Table 1 Alloy 20
(SWG: Spiral Wound Gasket; HASS: High Alloy Stainless Steel)
All stainless steel can be considered susceptible to localized attack. When choosing gasket
material for use in sea water with stainless steel equipments, one must look closely in the
Gavanic Series for a galvanic match between the type of gasket material and high alloy
stainless steel with respect to electronegative potential.

Selecting the Proper Gasket Material
The optimum gasket material would have the following characteristics:
- It would have the chemical resistance of PTFE
- The heat resistance of graphite
- The strength of steel
- Require a zero seating stress such as soft rubber, and
- Be inexpensive.
Obviously there is no known gasket material that has all these characteristics and each material
has certain limitations that restrict its use. It is possible to overcome limitations partially by
several methods such as including the use of reinforcing inserts, combining it with other
materials, varying the construction or density, or by designing the joint itself to overcome some
of the limitations.
Mechanical factors are important in the design of the joint but the primary selection of a gasket
material is influenced by three factors:
- The temperature of the fluid or gas to be contained,
- The pressure of the fluid or gas to be contained,
- The corrosive characteristics of the fluid or gas to be contained.
Additional factors that can influence the corrosion resistance of a particular material at operating
conditions and should be considered when selecting the gasket material for a specific
environment would include:
- Concentration of the corrosive agent. (Full strength solutions are not necessarily more
corrosive than those of dilute proportions and, of course, the reverse is also true.)
- The purity of a corrosive agent. For example, dissolved oxygen in otherwise pure water
may cause rapid oxidation of steam generation equipment at high temperatures.
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- The temperature of the corrosive agent. In general, higher temperatures of corrosive
agents will accelerate corrosive attack.
As a consequence, it is often necessary to "field-test" materials for resistance to corrosion under
normal operating conditions to determine if the material selected will have the required
resistance to corrosion.
Based on the foregoing, testing and service experience, the following recommendations are
made for gaskets for high alloy stainless steels in seawater.
A. Low Pressure Systems (up to 10 bar).
1. Avoid the use of PTFE or graphite loaded gaskets.
2. Use gaskets made of synthetic rubber, rubber bonded aramid or synthetic fibre.
B. High Pressure Systems (10 bar to 100 bar)
1. Avoid PTFE coated gaskets.
2. Graphite - containing gaskets are acceptable provided the graphite is sealed from the
seawater and is never wetted.
3. Only metals compatible with high alloy stainless steel should be used for spiral wound
gaskets. (Super-duplex, 6% Mo austenitic, Ni-Cr-Mo alloys where Mo >7%, titanium).
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1. R. Francis, G. Byrne, Weir materials &Foundries, NACE Corrosion 2007, paper 07626,
“Factors Affecting Gasket Selection for Stainless Steels in Seawater”
2. R. M. Kain, NACE Corrosion 1998, paper 98702, “Gasket Materials and Other Factors
Influencing the Crevice Corrosion Resistance of Stainless Steel Flanges”
3. Dirk Aberle, NACE Corrosion 2008, paper 08085, “High Performance Corrosion Resistant
Stainless Steels and Nickel Alloys for Oil & Gas Applications”
4. Ata M. Hassan and A.U. Malik, “Corrosion Resistant Materials for Seawater RO Plants”,
Desalinization, 74, 157-170 (1989)
5. A.U. Malik, T.L. Prakash, A. Shahreer, I.N. Andijani, Fahd Al-Muaili and A.T.M.
Jamaluddin, Saline Water Conversion Corporation, Technical Report No.: TR. 3804/APP
93003, Sep-2001, “Crevice Corrosion of High Alloy Stainless Steels in SWRO Pilot Plants”
6. Ata M. Hassan, S. Al-Jarrah, T. Al-Lohibi, A. Hamdan, L.M. Bakheet and M.I. Al-Amri,
“Performance of SWCC SWRO Plants”, Paper for presentation at the IDA 4th World
Congress, Kuwait, Nov 1989.
7. Anees U. Malik, Shahreer Ahmad and Ismaeel Andijani, WSTA 4th Gulf Conference,
Bahrain, 1999, “Corrosion Behavior of Steels in Gulf Seawater Environment“
8. Dr. T. Hodgkiess, MTEC B4, 2009, “Structural and Material Response to Marine
Environment, Corrosion Ch.2 & Ch.6”
9. Aalco Metals Ltd., ”Stainless Steels – Alloying Elements”
10. Aalco Metals Ltd., “Stainless Steel – Specifications, Grades and Properties”
11. International Molybdenum Association, “Stainless Grades and Properties”
12. International Molybdenum Association, “Metallurgy of Mo in Stainless Steel”
13. International Molybdenum Association, “Practical Guidelines for the Fabrication of Duplex
Stainless Steels, 2nd Edition”
14. Copper Development Association (CDA) Publication TN38, 1986, “Materials for Seawater
Pipeline Systems”
15. A Nickel Development Institute (NiDI) Reference Book Series No. 11003, 1987,
“Guidelines for selection of nickel stainless steels for marine environments, natural waters
and brines”
16. A Nickel Development Institute (NiDI) Reference Book Series No. 11021, 1987, “High-
Performance Stainless Steels”
17. Lamons Gaskets, “Gasket Handbook”
18., “Rubber Gasket Material”
19. GlobalSpec, “Gaskets and Gasketing Specifications”
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22. CSI AL-6XN Corrosion Resistant Alloy ,“CSI AL-6XN Corrosion Resistant Alloy”
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