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Corrosion potential of 304 stainless steel in sulfuric acid

Keywords: stainless steel , corrosion , corrosion potential , sulfuric acid

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The potentiodynamic study of the electrochemical behavior of austenitic 304 stainless steel in deaerated aqueous sulfuric acid of pH 1 revealed that the steel achieved a stable corrosion potential of ca. – 0.350 V (SCE) independent of whether the electrode had previously been cathodically “activated” or anodically passivated. It was also shown that the experimentally observed anodic peak was not the usually obtained anodic passivation peak, as is the case with a number of metal, but an artifact due to the anodic oxidation of hydrogen absorbed during the previously employed cathodic polarization and hydrogen evolution, intended to activate the initially passive surface, or even hydrogen absorbed on the open circuit potential. It was shown that this potential establishes and electrochemical corrosion potential of the Wagner–Traud type due to the evolution of cathodic hydrogen on a passivated steel surface and anodic metal dissolution through the passive layer. It was impossible to activate 304 stainless steel in sulfuric acid of pH 1 by cathodic polarization, and the usually observed anodic peak obtained under these conditions should not be considered as an active metal dissolution process and a passivation anodic peak, but rather as an artifact due to the electrochemical oxidation of the in the steel absorbed hydrogen.


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