The stress corrosion cracking of a sensitized Type 304 stainless steel has been studied at room temperature using controlled potentials and two concentrations of sodium thiosulfate. In both constant extension rate and constant load tests, the crack velocities attain extremely high values, up to 8 μm s -1. Scratching electrode experiments conducted at various pH values on simulated grain boundary material show that both the crack initiation frequency and crack velocity are closely related to the repassivation rate of the grain boundary material as expected on a dissolution-controlled mechanism; however, the maximum crack velocity at any potential is consistently about two orders of magnitude higher than that predicted from the electrochemical data. Frequent grain boundary separation ahead of the crack tip is thought to occur, but retarded repassivation of the grain boundary material is a necessary feature of the cracking. Effects of strain-generated martensite are discussed.
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