Relevance of the cathodic process on the passivation of stainless steels – an approximation to the origin of the rouging phenomenon



Unwanted corrosive phenomena on stainless steel surfaces like rouging had been observed for years occurring at certain service conditions. Rouging consists in the formation of a colored surface film containing mainly iron on metallic surfaces in contact with high-purity waters. In spite of numerous hypotheses and experimental examinations a clear explanation about the origin of rouging on stainless steels is currently still lacking. Because rouging occurs even at well passivated stainless steel surfaces the origin of this corrosive phenomenon should be related to the weakness of the stability of the passive film. In the present paper electrochemical noise measurements regarding the stability of the passive layer of alloy 904L (1.4539, X1NiCrMoCu25-20-5) in high-purity water at 70 °C depending on the cathodic process are presented. In addition, the importance of the cathodic reaction on the passivation and stability of the passive layer is discussed.