Lead University: Carnegie Mellon University
PI: Bryan Webler, Materials Science & Engineering
Co-PIs: Petrus Pistorius, Materials Science & Engineering

This project will investigate the corrosion resistance of stainless steels in brines (water with high salt concentrations). These solutions are produced as wastewater from the hydraulic fracturing process of natural gas extraction. They are corrosive even to stainless steels, which are common materials of construction for water handling and water treatment infrastructure. The corrosion phenomena of most importance in these situations are pitting and stress corrosion cracking (SCC), both of which can lead to component failures. These phenomena are related and their evolution depends on solution chemistry, temperature, and alloy composition. In this project we will focus on the effects of these variables on the evolution of pitting and SCC, particularly the initiation and growth of SCC from pits. We will study these phenomena over a range of alloys, from common 300-series stainless steels to highly alloyed grades, in collaboration with ATI, a Pennsylvania-based stainless steel producer. This work will enable better quantification of the effects of alloying on corrosion behavior. This information can be used to determine performance expectations for existing steels and to select new steels for service in water treatment infrastructure. For steel producers such as ATI this information can help guide the design of new steels for use in corrosive environments.