Understanding passive film degradation and its effect on hydrogen embrittlement of super duplex stainless steel – Synchrotron X-ray and electrochemical measurements combined with CalPhaD and ab-initio computational studies

Örnek C., Zhang F., Larsson A., Mansoor M., Harlow G. S., Kroll R., ...More

Applied Surface Science, vol.628, 2023 (SCI-Expanded) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 628
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.apsusc.2023.157364
  • Journal Name: Applied Surface Science
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, PASCAL, Aerospace Database, Chemical Abstracts Core, Communication Abstracts, INSPEC, Metadex, Civil Engineering Abstracts
  • Keywords: Ab-initio density-functional theory, Cathodic polarization, FactSage thermodynamics, Hydrogen embrittlement, Passive film, Super duplex stainless steel
  • Istanbul Technical University Affiliated: Yes


The passive film stability on stainless steel can be affected by hydrogen absorption and lead to microstructure embrittlement. This work shows that the absorption of hydrogen results in surface degradation due to oxide reduction and ionic defect generation within the passive film, which decomposes and eventually vanishes. The passive film provides a barrier to entering hydrogen, but when hydrogen is formed, atomic hydrogen infuses into the lattices of the austenite and ferrite phases, causing strain evolution, as shown by synchrotron x-ray diffraction data. The vacancy concentration and hence the strains increase with increasing electrochemical cathodic polarization. Under cathodic polarization, the surface oxides are thermodynamically unstable, but the complete reduction is kinetically restrained. As a result, surface oxides remain present under excessive cathodic polarization, contesting the classical assumption that oxides are easily removed. Density-functional theory calculations have shown that the degradation of the passive film is a reduction sequence of iron and chromium oxide, which causes thinning and change of the semiconductor properties of the passive film from n-type to p-type. As a result, the surface loses its passivity after long cathodic polarization and becomes only a weak barrier to hydrogen absorption and hence hydrogen embrittlement.