Despite the many advances made in material science, stainless steel and aluminum remain the structural materials best-suited for the naval fleet. While these metallic materials offer many benefits, such as high strength and good toughness, their persistent exposure to the maritime environment inevitably leads to issues with corrosion. Among the various manifestations of corrosion, pitting corrosion is of particular concern because the transition of corrosion pits to stress-corrosion cracks can lead to catastrophic failures. Traditional pitting corrosion analyses treat the pit shape as a semi-circle or ellipse and typically assume a growth pattern that maintains the original geometrical shape. However, when the underlying microstructure is incorporated into the model, pit growth is related to the grains surrounding the pit perimeter and the growth rate is proportional to crystallographic orientation. Since each grain has a potentially different orientation, pit growth happens at non-uniform rates leading to irregular geometries, i.e., non-circular and non-elliptical. These irregular pit geometries can further lead to higher stresses.
This work presents a detailed look at corrosion pit growth coupled with mechanical load through a numerical model of a two-dimensional stable corrosion pit. Real microstructural information from a sample of 316 stainless steel is incorporated into the model to analyze microstructural effects on pit growth. Through this work, stress distributions and stress concentration factors are examined for a variety of pit geometries, including comparisons of their range of values to a typical, semi-circular pit. The consequences of these stress distributions and concentration factors are discussed.