Evaluating Sensitized Chromium Steel Alloys with Induction Infrared Thermography

  • Wayne C. TuckerEmail author
  • Patric Lockhart
  • Emily Guzas


A nondestructive evaluation (NDE) technique is presented that can detect sensitization in welded austenitic stainless steel components for 100% evaluation of in situ parts in real time during production or in service. The sensitization of austenitic stainless steels due to welding or heat treatment has mostly been eliminated by industry standards for manufacturing these alloys that require a carbon content well below the threshold at which sensitization would occur. Such alloys are especially important in naval applications because of their corrosion resistance. However, critical stainless steel components used in naval applications where component failure would be catastrophic are currently not allowed to be fabricated by welding because, until now, there has been no proven, efficient NDE method to verify that each weld in each stainless steel component has not been sensitized and thus weakened. In this study, induction infrared thermography (IIRT) was demonstrated to be an effective NDE tool for detecting sensitized steel in the heat-affected zone (HAZ) of welds in three types of stainless steel plate. The in situ IIRT scan results matched the conventional metallographic analysis of the HAZ in welds in samples of low-carbon 316L austenitic steel, high-carbon 440C martensitic steel, and high-carbon 301 austenitic steel.


Sensitized steel Infrared thermography Pulsed eddy current Induction thermography Stress corrosion cracking 



This work was sponsored by the Naval Undersea Warfare Center and funded by the Office of Naval Research. The authors thank Richard Brown, Chair of the University of Rhode Island Chemical Engineering Department, and his graduate students for preparing the metallurgical samples. Also, many thanks to Matt Roberts, for induction infrared thermography work done during his NREIP internship at NUWCDIVNPT, and to Kevin Wang of the Aerospace and Ocean Engineering Department at Virginia Tech, for his insights on electromagnetic and thermal physics. Finally, thanks to numerous members of the Naval Materials Community of Interest (NMCoI) for fielding questions about thermophysical material properties of chromium carbide precipitates.


  1. 1.
    Fontana, M.G., Greene, N.D.: Corrosion Engineering, p. 61. McGraw Hill, New York (1978)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Devine, T.M.: The mechanism of sensitization of austenitic stainless steel. Corros. Sci. 30, 135–151 (1990)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Welding of austenitic stainless steel, Part 2. Job Knowledge article 104, TWI Group Websites, The Welding Institute, technical-knowledge/job-knowledge/welding-of-austenitic-stainless-steel-part-2-104Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Tedmon Jr., C.S., Vermilyea, D.A., Rosolowski, J.H.: Intergranular corrosion of austenitic stainless steel. J. Electrochem. Soc. 118(2), 192–202 (1971)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Yin, Y., Faulkner, R.G., Moreton, P., Armson, I., Coyle, P.: Grain boundary chromium depletion in austenitic alloys. J. Mater. Sci. 45, 5872–5882 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Requirements for fabrication welding and inspection, and casting inspection and repair for machinery, piping, and pressure vessels. NAVSEA Tech Pub S9074-AR-GIB-010/278, Materials Group S-8, Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, DC, Table VI (1995)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Tucker, W.C., Lockhart, P.K.: Induction Thermography Technique for Detecting Sensitization of Stainless Steel in the Heat Affected Zone After Welding, NUWC-NPT Tech Memo 17-038. Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division, Newport, RI (2017)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    ASM Handbook Volume 4: Heat Treating. ASM International, Aimere, Netherlands, Table 4 (1991)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Lippold, J.C., Kotecki, D.J.: Welding Metallurgy and Weldability of Stainless Steels. Wiley, Hoboken, NJ (2005)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Garcia, C., Tiedra, M.P., Blanco, Y., Martin, O., Martin, F.: Intergranular corrosion of welded joints of austenitic stainless steels studied by using an electrochemical minicell. Corros. Sci. 50, 2390–2397 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Standard test method for electrochemical reactivation (EPR) for detecting sensitization of AISI type 304 and 304L stainless steels. ASTM G108, ASTM International, West Conshocken, PA (1994)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Aydoğdu, G.H., Aydinol, M.K.: Determination of susceptibility to intergranular corrosion and electrochemical reactivation behavior of AISI 316L type stainless steel. Corros. Sci. 48, 3565–3583 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Standard practices for detecting susceptibility to intergranular attack in austenitic stainless steels. ASTM A262-15, ASTM International, West Conshocken, PA (2015)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Structural welding code—steel. AWS D1.1, American Welding Society, Miami, FL (2010)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Specification sheet for 440C martensitic stainless steel alloy. Interlloy Engineering Steels and Alloys, Melbourne, Australia (2016)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
  17. 17.
    Usamentiaga, R., Venegas, P., Guerediaga, J., Vega, L., Molleda, J., Bulnes, F.G.: Infrared thermography for temperature measurement and non-destructive testing. Sensors 14, 12305–12348 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Oswald-Tranta, B.: Induction thermography for surface crack detection and depth determination. Appl. Sci. 8(2), 257–280 (2018)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Searchable database of material data sheets. Accessed 31 Oct 2018
  20. 20.
    L’vov, S.N., Nemchenko, V.F., Kislyi, P.S., Verkhoglyadova, T.S., Kosolapova, T.Y.: The electrical properties of chromium borides, carbides, and nitrides. Sov. Powder Metall. Met. Ceram. 1(4), 243–247 (1962)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Hirota, K., Mitani, K., Yoshinaka, M., Yamaguchi, O.: Simultaneous synthesis and consolidation of chromium carbides (Cr3C2, Cr7C3 and Cr23C6) by pulsed electric-current pressure sintering. Mater. Sci. Eng., A 399(1–2), 154–160 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Linstrom, P.J., Mallard, W.G., Eds., NIST Chemistry WebBook, NIST Standard Reference Database Number 69, June 2005, National Institute of Stand-ards and Technology, Gaithersburg MD, 20899. Accessed 01 Nov 2018
  23. 23.
    Lockhart, P.K.: Infrared thermography crack detection. NUWC-NPT Tech Memo 15-108, Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division, Newport, RI (2015)Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Tsymbalist, M.M., Rudenskaya, N.A., Zuz’min, B.P., Pan’kov, V.A.: Low-temperature plasma spheroidizing of polydisperse powders of refractory materials. Prot. Met 39(4), 338–343 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Kosolapova, T.Y. (ed.): Handbook of High Temperature Compounds: Properties, Production, Applications. Hemisphere Publishing Corporation, New York, NY (1990)Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Samsonov, G.V., Borisova, A.L., Zhidkova, T.G., et al., Fiziko-khimicheskie svoistva okislov. Spravoch nik (Physiochemical Properties of Oxides. Hand book), Metallurgiya, Moscow (1978)Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Samsonov, G.V., Vinnitskii, I.M.: Tugoplavkie soedineniya. Spravochnik (Refractory Compounds. Handbook), Metallurgiya, Moscow (1976)Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Ibarra-Castanedo, C., Piau, J.-M., Guilbert, S., Avdelidis, N.P., Genest, M., Bendada, A., Maldague, X.: Comparative study of active thermography techniques for the nondestructive evaluation of honeycomb structures. Res. Nondestr. Eval. 20, 1–31 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Balageas, D.: Defense and illustration of time-resolved pulsed thermography for NDE. Quantative Infrared Thermogr. J. 9(1), 3–32 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© This is a U.S. Government work and not under copyright protection in the US; foreign copyright protection may apply 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division NewportNaval Undersea Warfare CenterNewportUSA

Personalised recommendations