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Factors affecting the selection of Austenitic (316

grade) or Austenitic-Ferrite mix (duplex) Stainless


Steels in their application in black-water pipework
Introduction
Material selection for pipework is largely conducted according to recognised
specifications and well understood factors. In the marine environment, the selection
is still largely based on existing criteria that have proven to work in onshore
industries, with one notable exception smoke toxicity. This brief non-technical
article will look into the selection factors between 316 grade and Duplex stainless
steels, so smoke toxicity is not relevant.

Selection Criteria
A number of factors are involved in the evaluation and selection of materials for
pipework, and are largely dependent on the anticipated operating conditions during
the service life. The following factors should be considered:

Intended use Type of wastewater

Scour or abrasion conditions

Installation requirements

Corrosion conditions chemical, biological

Flow requirements pipe size, velocity, drag

Product characteristics pipe size, length, fitting and connection


requirements

Cost effectiveness materials, installation, maintenance, life expectancy

Physical properties - stiffness, loading strength, stress and flex

Handling requirements weight

This selection list gives a broad outline of the many different factors that needs to be
considered. How each one is evaluated or weighted against each other depends on,
to a large extent, the operating environment; an operational ship environment poses
significant design and operational problems that are not often matched in onshore
installations. E.g. the pipe layout has to take into account the complex ship design
and compartment layout, resulting in many and varying changes in the direction of
pipework. Weight is always a significant consideration and the combined weight of
the entire black water pipework adds a sizable load to the above waterline weight.
Corrosion, whether its initiated by chemical, biological or physical conditions, is a
persistent problem with steels (in varying amounts), and is particularly prone to this
form of damage. Polymeric materials are inert to corrosion, and while they would
make ideal materials for pipework, their smoke toxicity and poor wear characteristics
seriously hamper adoption.
Chemically induced corrosion occurs when the pH of the wastewater moves away
from pH 7 (neutral) and remains in contact with the pipe material for an extended
period of time. The corrosive nature of the ions in solution attack the protective oxide
surface layer and expose the underlining steel to the environment.
Dissolved oxygen and certain anions, namely the halogens (chlorides, bromides) all
contribute to the initiation and acceleration of corrosion. Chlorides (typically from sea
water or chloride contain acids) are particularly effective at initiating corrosion in
steels, leading to the formation of many tiny highly localised points or pits of
corrosion, called Pittingi. Pitting is a dangerous form of corrosion attack for several
reasons. Pits can result in the perforation of a metal component while the rest of the
metal piece remains unaffected. In the presence of an applied stress, pits can serve
as sites to initiate stress corrosion cracking, leading to complete failure.
Biological induced corrosion is predominately through the contamination of sulphaterich wastewater with Sulphate Reducing Bacteria (SRB). SRBs are a group of
bacteria that use Sulphates dissolved in water to aid their respiration and
metabolism, rather than using oxygen, this process is called Anaerobic respiration.
The bacteria make their home on the interface between the steel surface and the
water, and through a complex metabolic process reduce dissolved sulphates (SO42-)
to hydrogen sulphite gas (H2S), a highly toxic and corrosive gas that attacks the
metal.

The flow characteristics of moving water can initiate corrosion through the abrasive
action of turbulent flow, cavitation and impacts of solids against the inner surface.
Current pipework design and layout can mitigate many of these problems, but the
strength and corrosion resistance of the steel still forms a significant consideration.

Properties of 316-Grade and Duplex Grade Stainless Steelii


Type 316 is an austenitic chromium-nickel stainless steel containing molybdenum.
The addition of molybdenum increases general corrosion resistance, improves
resistance to pitting from weak chloride ion solutions (limited resistance), and
provides increased strength at elevated temperatures. Corrosion resistance is
improved, particularly against sulphuric, hydrochloric, and other organic acids.
However, they are susceptible to stress corrosion cracking (SSC). E.g. 316 is not
used in and around swimming pools due to its particular susceptibly to SSC by the
chloride ion (hypochlorite disinfectant used to treat the water).
Type 316 grades are considered to be readily formable and weldable by common
practices.
Duplex Stainless steel grades, which are a balanced mix of Austenitic-Ferrite
components, have a number of advantages over 316 grade steels:

Higher strength leading to weight saving

Greater corrosion resistance particularly SSC

Lower price

Better price stability

Of the four the first one is the most significant and advantageous over 316 grade;
Duplex is around twice the strength of 316 and therefore half the thickness is
required for the same anticipated forces. However, that advantage soon turns to a
major disadvantage as high strength results in formability and machinability issuesiii
Duplex grades are less ductile than 316 and therefore shaping, bending and
machining become significantly more complex, if it can be achieved at all.
Where higher corrosion resistance is required, alongside resistance to SSC, Duplex
can handle many different corrosive environments and conditions, from: concentrated

acids and alkalis, hot and cold liquids, Chloride ions and prolonged contact with
corrosive chemicals.

Conclusion
Duplex grades demonstrate remarkable versatility over 316 grade steels particularly
when required to operate under corrosive and/or high stress conditions. However, as
noted, the high strength characteristic of Duplex becomes a disadvantage when
formability and machinability is taken into account this can be a significant cost
effectiveness problem.
The question is, is the enhanced corrosion resistance and higher strength
characteristics of Duplex over 316 grade justifiable for the conditions expected to be
found in the black water lines? If they continue to use Chloride acids (hydrochloric
acid) to provide periodic descaling without a suitable corrosion inhibitor, then a case
can be made. Although, in the absence of material and installation costings it is
difficult to make an assessment as to whether Duplex offers an enough of an
advantage over 316.

McCafferty, E. (2010) Introduction to Corrosion Science, Springer: First Edition, pp. 272-285

ii

http://www.bssa.org.uk/topics.php?article=668

iii

Practical Guidelines for the Fabrication of Duplex Stainless Steels, IMOA: Second Edition (2009),

http://www.imoa.info/download_files/stainless-steel/Duplex_Stainless_Steel_2d_Edition.pdf