The effects of applied stress, ranging from tensile to compressive, on the atmospheric pitting corrosion behavior of 304L stainless steel (SS304L) were analyzed through accelerated atmospheric laboratory exposures and microelectrochemical cell analysis. After exposing the lateral surface of a SS304L four-point bend specimen to artificial seawater at 50°C and 35% relative humidity for 50 d, pitting characteristics were determined using optical profilometry and scanning electron microscopy. The SS304L microstructure was analyzed using electron backscatter diffraction. Additionally, localized electrochemical measurements were performed on a similar, unexposed, SS304L four-point bend bar to determine the effects of applied stress on corrosion susceptibility. Under the applied loads and the environment tested, the observed pitting characteristics showed no correlation with the applied stress (from 250 MPa to −250 MPa). Pitting depth, surface area, roundness, and distribution were found to be independent of location on the sample or applied stress. The lack of correlation between pitting statistics and applied stress was more likely due to the aggressive exposure environment, with a sea salt loading of 4 g/m2 chloride. The pitting characteristics observed were instead governed by the available cathode current and salt distribution, which are a function of sea salt loading, as well as pre-existing underlying microstructure. In microelectrochemical cell experiments performed in Cl environments comparable to the atmospheric exposure and in environments containing orders of magnitude lower Cl concentrations, effects of the applied stress on corrosion susceptibility were only apparent in open-circuit potential in low Cl concentration solutions. Cl concentration governed the current density and transpassive dissolution potential.

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