What is intergranular corrosion?

what is intergranular corrosion?

Intergranular corrosion, also known as intercrystalline corrosion, is a form of corrosion that occurs along grain boundaries in metals.

It is primarily caused by the preferential dissolution of one component in a multiphase material, resulting in the localized attack along the grain boundaries.

This type of corrosion is caused by the preferential dissolution of the metal at grain boundaries resulting from the presence of impurities. It can be caused by sensitization and can lead to cracking and other serious damage in susceptible materials.

Intergranular corrosion generally results from sensitization to high temperatures during welding processes, resulting in chromium depletion at grain boundaries and other microstructural changes.

This depletion creates regions where there is an increase in susceptibility to various forms of localized attack such as pitting or crevice corrosion. The effects can range from discoloration and minor surface roughening to significant material loss and failure due to cracking or embrittlement

intergranular corrosion is also known as IGC or intergranular attack-IGA.

Which metals are affected by Intergranular Corrosion?

Intergranular corrosion includes many metals such as aluminum, stainless steel, nickel alloys, etc.

intergranular corrosion causes

Intergranular corrosion is a type of corrosion that occurs along the grain boundaries of metals and alloys.

This type of corrosion affects not only the surface area but can also affect the internal structure of a material and weaken its overall strength.

It is often caused by using improper heat treatment processes or exposing metals to certain environmental conditions like sensitization range where corrosion preventive alloying elements depleted as their carbides.

Factors increasing the risk of Intergranular corrosion are:

  1. Carbon content: Higher carbon content, higher risk of intergranular corrosion.
  2. Temperature Range: Within 650-700 °C for austenitic materials,
  3. Sensitization of time: the maximum degree of sensitization occurs after about 10,000 minutes,
  4. Grain size: Fine grains are less prone to IGC compared to coarse grains,
  5. Strain hardening: increases the deposition area of chromium carbides,
  6. Addition of alloying elements: The addition of titanium or niobium in percentage contributes to the formation of titanium or niobium carbide (since it is most closely related to carbon), which stabilizes the grain boundary and leaves intact the chromium present in the alloy.

The primary cause of intergranular corrosion is sensitization in stainless steel.

How does intergranular corrosion occur?

Intergranular corrosion is a form of corrosion that affects metal alloys, particularly stainless steel and aluminum alloys. It occurs when the grain boundaries are corroded away and can be caused by many different factors. Understanding how intergranular corrosion manifests is essential for designing structures with greater durability and longevity.

Intergranular corrosion can be caused by a variety of factors, including improper heat treatment, incorrect alloy composition, or contamination with certain chemicals.

This form of corrosion takes place when the grains in a material become exposed to an environment where they are more prone to oxidation.

This happens due to differences in composition among the grains, causing them to corrode at different rates.

Poor production methods like welding or casting may also create areas where IGC is more likely to occur. Additionally, environmental factors such as temperature variations can cause one grain boundary to oxidize faster than another resulting in IGC.

ASTM intergranular corrosion test

The ASTM Intergranular corrosion test, ASTM A262, is a widely used standard for testing the susceptibility of stainless steel to intergranular corrosion.

The ASTM A262 test consists of five different steps: sample preparation, solution preparation, testing procedure, evaluation criteria and reporting requirements. During sample preparation, samples must be cut from the material and machined into the appropriate shape for testing.

The acid solution is then prepared using either nitric acid or sulfuric acid mixed with acetic anhydride at various temperatures depending on the grade of stainless steel being tested.

How to detect intergranular corrosion?

Intergranular corrosion is a type of corrosion that occurs on the grain boundaries of metal alloys, usually stainless steel. It can lead to serious damage if left unchecked. Fortunately, there are a few methods that can be used to detect intergranular corrosion in metals before it causes irreversible harm.

First, visual inspection is one of the most straightforward methods for identifying intergranular corrosion. It involves using a microscope or magnifying glass to examine surfaces for signs of pitting or etching along grain boundaries.

Additionally, mechanical testing such as hardness testing and tensile strength testing can be used to measure changes in material properties that may indicate intergranular corrosion.

Another way to detect intergranular corrosion is through chemical analysis such as electrochemical tests or X-ray diffraction analysis.

How can intergranular corrosion be prevented?

Intergranular corrosion can be prevented using:

  1. Using stabilizing grades alloyed with Niobium (Nb) such as AISI 347 or with Titanium (Ti) such as AISI 321.
  2. Using steel with low carbon content.
  3. Apply solution annealing after welding.
  4. Welding using low heat input and controlling interpass temperature.
  5. Avoiding service temperature in sensitization range.
  6. Additional increase in chromium concentration.
  7. The introduction of molybdenum, which slows down the process of release of chromium carbides.
  8. Using low carbon welding filler wire rod (e.g., ER308L instead of ER308).

Additionally, proper annealing procedures should be followed for stainless steel materials in order to avoid this form of corrosion. The annealing process helps to dissolve chromium carbides at grain boundaries which makes them less vulnerable to intergranular attack.

What is intergranular corrosion of austenitic stainless steel?

Intergranular corrosion (IGC) is corrosion of austenitic stainless such as AISI 304, 310 and 316 spreading along the grain boundaries due to the formation of chromium carbides along the grain boundaries and depletion of adjacent volumes with chromium.

The most common carbide Cr23C6, which greatly reduces the ductility and toughness of the metal.

Intergranular corrosion of the welded joint most often occurs in the base metal near the weld (in HAZ), as well as at the place of fusion of the base metal with the welded and in the welded metal.

Intergranular Corrosion runs along the grain boundaries, which leads to the formation of deep cracks. This can result in structure failure.

Can you see intergranular corrosion?

External intergranular corrosion (IGC) is visible as black spots. For internal IGC, it needs to be checked via metallography.

Intergranular vs transgranular corrosion

ntergranular corrosion (IGC) and transgranular corrosion (TGC) are two types of corrosion caused by exposure to aggressive environments. IGC is a form of localized corrosion that occurs along grain boundaries, while TGC is a more generalized form of attack on the entire grain or crystal structure.

The main difference between IGC and TGC lies in the way each type of corrosion attacks the material’s surface. IGC occurs at the interface between grains, leading to cracks and crevices that reduce mechanical strength; whereas with TGC, no distinct boundaries exist as the entire grain structure is attacked simultaneously. This often results in pits that extend deep into the material’s surface over time.

Intergranular corrosion aluminum

Intergranular corrosion of aluminum alloys also occurs when they are heated during operation.

In most cases, intergranular corrosion of aluminum products is noted in areas where there are microscopic pores and small cracks. Less commonly, damage begins in pitting’s. They are formed between the boundaries of grains.

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