The influence of the composition of stainless steels on atmospheric corrosion resistance in a marine environment in Dubai was investigated after 2 y and 4 y of exposure. Different stainless steel grades with different surface finishes were included in the investigation: three ferritic stainless steels, five austenitic stainless steels, and four duplex stainless steels. The alloying elements chromium (Cr) and molybdenum (Mo) both had a beneficial influence on the corrosion resistance. The pitting resistance equivalent number (PREN=%Cr + 3.3%Mo + 16%N) and the (%Cr + 3.3%Mo) content in the surface film correlated well to the atmospheric corrosion resistance. An increased Cr content both in the bulk material and in the passive film improved the atmospheric corrosion resistance and the additional presence of Mo was effective in preventing red rust and also reduced the depth of pits. The depth of the pitting attack and the degree of aesthetic degradation were both influenced by alloying level, surface finish, and exposure conditions (open and sheltered). In the severe marine environment in Dubai, it is necessary to use Mo-bearing high-Cr stainless steel for adequate atmospheric corrosion resistance. The most resistant stainless steel grades were the high alloyed grades which ranked in the order UNS S31254 ∼ UNS S3750 < UNS S34565 < UNS S32654. The duplex stainless steel grade S32205 may be considered for construction and architectural materials in Dubai but is likely to require more maintenance.

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