Environmentally assisted cracking of solution-annealed Type 316L austenitic stainless steel with two different surface treatments (polished versus ground) was investigated using the constant extension rate tensile test methodology in high-pressure water at 350°C and low-pressure H2-steam vapor at 350°C, 400°C, 440°C, and 480°C, while maintaining electrochemical corrosion potentials in the NiO stability regime. Flat tapered specimens were used to indentify the threshold stress for cracking (∼400 MPa) under these environmental conditions. Intensive oxidation and typical intergranular cracks were observed to initiate from the polished surface at 400°C and 440°C, whereas wavy cracks initiated on the ground surface. The results indicate that the ultrafine-grained layer formed adjacent to the ground surface effectively suppressed intergranular crack initiation under these test conditions. The slow loading under H2-steam vapor at 400°C under the oxidizing condition (NiO) was found to be a suitable high-accelerated test to study early stages of the cracking.

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