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Corrosion-fatigue: A review of damage tolerance models

Article  in  International Materials Reviews · August 2017

DOI: 10.1080/09506608.2017.1375644


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Nicolas Larrosa Robert Akid

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International Materials Reviews

ISSN: 0950-6608 (Print) 1743-2804 (Online) Journal homepage: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/yimr20

Corrosion-fatigue: a review of damage tolerance


N. O. Larrosa, R. Akid & R. A. Ainsworth

To cite this article: N. O. Larrosa, R. Akid & R. A. Ainsworth (2017): Corrosion-fatigue: a review of
damage tolerance models, International Materials Reviews, DOI: 10.1080/09506608.2017.1375644

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Corrosion-fatigue: a review of damage tolerance models

N. O. Larrosa , R. Akidb and R. A. Ainsworth c

Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK; bSchool of Materials, The University of Manchester, Manchester,
UK; cSchool of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering, The University of Manchester, Manchester, UK


The synergistic combination of mechanical fatigue stresses and environmental agents acting Received 27 June 2016
together can be more detrimental than that of the summation of the contributions of each Accepted 23 August 2017
mechanism acting separately. Major attempts to understand the contribution of the
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different agents (microstructure, chemical composition of environment, temperature, loading Corrosion fatigue; pitting
conditions, etc.) have been reported in the literature. Nevertheless, current knowledge is corrosion; pit-to-crack
insufficient to address life estimation with a sound physical basis from the initiation of transition; damage tolerance;
localised corrosion (such as pitting) to the estimation of crack propagation. Major life assessment methods
simplifications and assumptions have been required in the development of life prediction
methodologies. This paper reviews recent efforts made by the different interested parties, in
both academia and industry, in the development of corrosion fatigue (CF) lifetime
prediction procedures. The paper mainly focuses on the methodologies proposed in the
literature for oil and gas, nuclear, energy generation and aerospace applications, dealing
with pitting CF damage in aluminium alloys, carbon and stainless steels. The transition of a
pit into a small crack (SC) and its growth is influenced by the interaction of the pit stress/
strain concentration and the local environmental conditions, making the modelling of
this stage of the utmost complexity. A major trend in the models reviewed in this paper is
to simplify the analysis by assuming the pit (a volumetric defect) as a sharp crack,
decouple the CF problem and account for the mechanical and environmental contributions
separately. These procedures heavily rely on fitting experimental data and exhibit
low generality in terms of application to varying system conditions. There is a clear
opportunity in this field to develop mechanistically based methodologies, considering the
inherent dependence of the damage mechanism on the interaction of environmental,
metallurgical and mechanical features, allowing more realistic lifetime estimates and defect
tolerance arguments, where pit-to-crack transition and SC initiation stages pose a significant

Abbreviation: ASME: American Society of Mechanical Engineers; API: American Petroleum

Institute; BP: British Petroleum; BS: British Standards; BWR: Boiling Water Reactor; CF:
Corrosion fatigue; DNV: Det Norske Veritas; FCGR: Fatigue crack growth rate; FCI: Fatigue
crack initiation; FCP: Fatigue crack propagation; FFS: Fitness for service; HA: Hydrogen
assisted; HRR: Hutchinson, Rice and Rosengren stress fields; LC: Long crack; LEFM: Linear
Elastic Fracture Mechanics; S-N: Stress vs. number of cycles

Nomenclature susceptible to different forms of corrosion. Localised

a Crack size/pit depth corrosion is associated with relatively high rates of
c Half pit width metal penetration at discrete sites and is perhaps the
da/dN Crack growth by cycle
E Young’s Modulus
most dangerous type of corrosion in combination
Kth Threshold stress intensity factor (SIF) with mechanical load, either cyclic or monotonic.
K SIF The synergistic nature of corrosion and fatigue is one
DsFL Fatigue limit of the main reasons for the premature failure of engin-
Ds Cyclic stress range
DK Cyclic SIF range eering structures and components causing failure at
KIC Fracture toughness early stages of life and at stress levels far below the
R Stress ratio in-air nominal fatigue strength of structural materials.
Y Geometry Factor
This decrease in life and resistance is likely to be attrib-
uted to the premature initiation of fatigue cracks at pit-
induced stress concentrations.
Under service conditions, metals and alloys can be The detrimental effect of pitting corrosion-fatigue
exposed to aggressive environments which leave them (CF) has been widely reported, covering numerous

CONTACT N. O. Larrosa nicolas.larrosa@bristol.ac.uk Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Bristol, Queen’s Building, University Walk,
Bristol BS8 1TR, UK
© 2017 Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining and ASM International Published by Taylor & Francis on behalf of the Institute and ASM International

industries. For instance, in the Oil and Gas (O&G) [20,21], hold time [22], temperature [23–26], corrosion
industry, low alloy steels are common choices for off- potential [27–29], mean stress [30,31], strain amplitude
shore flowlines and risers in sour service applications. [32–34], cyclic history, and flow velocity effects
These alloys are susceptible to experiencing pitting cor- [30,35,36] on the fatigue life, Stress vs. number of cycles
rosion together with fatigue loading arising from large ( S−N), and cyclic crack growth rate, da/dN, behaviour
thermal transients and bending of the pipes due to of a whole range of materials now believed to be suscep-
wave motion and the presence of aggressive species tible to this phenomenon. As a result, various pitting CF
such as CO2 , H2 S and seawater environments. models have been proposed in the literature. In this
Likewise, in the nuclear industry, exposure to water context, either total life or damage tolerance approaches
has been shown to have a deleterious effect on the fati- are of the utmost importance in order to ensure the
gue strength of the most commonly used low alloy car- structural integrity and residual life of machines, com-
bon and stainless steels. Recent results [1–3] have ponents and structures that operate in corrosive
shown that exposure to water at temperatures above environments with reduced conservatism compared to
ca. 150◦ C for carbon and low alloy steels and ca. the currently applied methods in common structural
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180◦ C for stainless steels can reduce the cycles to fail- integrity assessment procedures [37–40], which con-
ure (through-wall cracking) or fatigue life by up to a siders corrosion in terms of local thinning area only.
factor of 10 in the low and intermediate cyclic life This review considers the approaches which have
regimes. Cyclic crack growth rates have been found been applied in allowing for some of the above-men-
to be 10 to 50 times faster in elevated temperature tioned considerations when lifing components under
water than in air. The most common CF mechanisms CF conditions. The main intention of this paper is to
usually occur in low alloy steel pipes in boiling water review the literature on the different models and meth-
reactors. These failures have been attributed to low odologies. This work recognises some of the work cited
cycle corrosion fatigue [4–7]. in the reviews conducted by Akid [41] and by Hoepp-
In addition, one of the main causes of failures in ner and Arriscorreta [42], although the latter was
aging aircraft is corrosion damage and fatigue of its focused on aircraft materials and environments only,
aluminium alloy components. Pits have been fre- but importantly updates this by including models pro-
quently identified as the source of cracks on operating posed in recent years (2009–present) including details
aircraft [8–11]. Events related to CF mechanisms have of work cited in a recent internal industry report on
been widely reported since the 1960s and procedures to corrosion fatigue models conducted by Lishchuk and
characterise [12–17] the severity were developed in Akid [43] and by Larrosa and Ainsworth [44]. The
order to reduce corrosion maintenance costs. As a range of applicability of the approaches reviewed in
result, the aerospace industry has been one of the prin- terms of mechanical, environmental and material-
cipal contributors to the development of corrosion and related parameters, and their accuracy for life predic-
CF procedures. tion is discussed. A summary is given on current
Similarly, the profitability of the wind energy indus- phenomenological approaches of CF based on pit and
try relies heavily on design costs and a requirement for crack growth with an emphasis on the damage process
low level maintenance intervention [18]. Variable on fatigue life. These models usually characterise CF
amplitude cyclic loads due to fluctuations in wind by separately assessing the different regimes. It is
speed velocity or wave motion, commonly known as important to mention that major models, their advan-
‘stochastic’ loads, coupled with chloride containing tages and limitations are discussed and the review is
environments threaten the structural capacity of wind relevant up to its time of publication.
turbine structures. Therefore, avoiding CF is a real chal-
lenge in this industry, which seeks to be sustainable by
CF regimes
operating as close as possible to the true design capacity.
Quantification of pitting and its critical role in crack Owing to the very complex nature of the CF process,
nucleation is therefore of great relevance in the assess- CF damage evolution is generally divided into different
ment of the deleterious impact on a component’s fati- stages or regimes [45,46], see Figure 1, as follows:
gue performance [19]. Although linear elastic fracture
mechanics (LEFM)-based models have shown accepta- . Surface film breakdown
ble accuracy when incorporating this phenomenon for . Pit growth
engineering applications, these models are not fully rig- . Pit-to-crack transition
orous in capturing the physics of the damage process. . Cracking: Small crack (SC) and long crack (LC)
Since it was recognised that pitting CF was a failure growth.
mechanism itself with unique features and fatigue life
prediction models were incapable of incorporating Small cracks (SCs) should be distinguished from
such characteristics, efforts have focused to quantify short cracks. While the former are small in all dimen-
the effect of different parameters such as strain rate sions (length, width and opening), the latter are small

causes a separation of anodic and cathodic sites, leading

to localisation of the anodic dissolution reaction, as seen
in the form of pitting. In terms of the CF process, the
resistance to surface film break-down might be con-
sidered a ‘primary threshold’. While there remains
debate among researchers regarding the mechanisms
of pit nucleation, local adsorption of aggressive anions
on the surface of the metal is commonly accepted to
be an initial step in pit nucleation and has been reported
in early investigations [51–57]. As highlighted above,
Figure 1. Pitting CF stages. Figure adapted from [45]. pitting is often associated with breaks in surface films,
and also with microstructural discontinuities in an
alloy, such as inclusions or constituent intermetallic
only in two dimensions (length and opening) [47], i.e. particles. Physical aspects in the material such as
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through-thickness short cracks in fracture mechanics pores, voids and mechanical damage which cause dis-
specimens. Experimental evidence supports this taxon- ruption to the filmed surface [58–60] are also pit-indu-
omy due to the different observed behaviour of small cing features. Such locations may eventually become pit
and short cracks under the influence of corrosive nucleation sites if conditions such as solution chemistry,
environments. Recent work at NPL (UK) [19,48,49] local electrochemical potential difference across the sur-
has shown that growth rates of short cracks are face, chemical nature of the base material and local
enhanced by the effect of the environment and that stress state are favourable to cause permanent separ-
such enhanced growth was not observed for small ation of anode and cathode sites [46,61]. Furthermore,
cracks. This enhancement was attributed to the electro- it has been observed that the number of corrosion pits
chemical crack size effect. These researchers introduced initiated on the specimen surface in stainless steels
the concept of a solution-conductivity-dependent elec- was controlled by repeated stress, with more corrosion
trochemical crack size effect, an extension of Gangloff’s pits initiated at higher stress amplitudes [62]. This
chemical crack size effect [50]. In the literature, for shows that fatigue can accelerate pit formation.
non-aggressive environments, it is often observed that The rate of pit growth is mainly dependent on
the term ‘small cracks’ has been used interchangeably material properties, local solution conditions and stress
with ‘short cracks’. state. Pits are known to be sites of crack initiation [63],
It is recognised that dissolution-based damage occurs severely affecting the fatigue life of the metal or alloy.
in several different forms, for example exfoliation cor- Several researchers have studied and discussed the
rosion, intergranular corrosion, crevice and galvanic influence of stress and strain states [45,64–72] on the
corrosion. The review does not specifically address electrochemical response (pit growth) and in most
these damage processes for the following reasons; in cases, these studies suggested that pit growth is highly
the case of exfoliation corrosion, damage tends to be influenced by the degree of plasticity in the surround-
widespread and lateral across the surface and does not ing grains. Pit growth rates begin to increase with the
necessarily induce isolated pit-like features that lead to onset of plastic deformation and reach a plateau
stress raisers and sites for crack initiation, see example when plastic deformation is saturated (Figure 2), at
given in the section “Discussion and concluding stresses well above yield. Conversely, below yield
remarks”. Furthermore, the combination of fatigue there is little effect on pit crack growth rate at low stress
and corrosion is almost exclusively manifest as transgra- ranges (Figure 2). CF is the process in which
nular cracking from stress raisers (notably pits) and that
intergranular corrosion may be a precursor to crack
initiation, but the subsequent fatigue-induced damage
mechanism tends to revert to transgranular cracking.
The role of crevice and galvanic corrosion is one of
selective dissolution which, under certain circum-
stances, may lead to the formation of preferential site
(s) for crack initiation and, in this respect, might be con-
sidered to respond in a manner akin to that of localised
corrosion. The susceptibility of a metal to pitting cor-
rosion, as well as the rate at which pitting occurs,
depend upon the presence and integrity of any surface
film, be it natural oxide in the case of aluminium or Figure 2. Pit growth rate in artificial seawater as a function of
stainless steel or scale in the case of carbon steel in stress range for a Q2N steel (0.12 %C), sy = 790 MPa, 3-point
CO2 /H2 S environments. The breakdown of this film bending, R=0.01, f=0,1 Hz. Figure adapted from [65].

electrochemical and mechanical activity act simul-

taneously. There are cases in which these two driving
forces act separately, for example when cyclic loading
is applied to a corrosion defect in an inert environment.
This review will not consider these cases and will only
focus on the simultaneous effect of the electrochemical
and mechanical driving forces. Nevertheless, most
stages of the CF process are controlled by only one
driving force. Stable pit growth is usually considered
a time-dependent phenomenon and mainly controlled
by electrochemical activity. The transitional regime
from the pit growth stage to crack nucleation (pit-to-
crack transition) and propagation stages is critical in
the CF process. Hu [73] has shown that the pit size
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at which the transition occurs is dependent upon

local solution chemistry, stress and time, which
makes the analysis and modelling of the CF process
complicated. Compared to pitting, cracking is predo-
minantly a mechanical, fatigue cycle-dependent regime,
although in the early stages of crack growth local crack
tip chemistry is also a key condition to the develop-
ment and propagation of small fatigue cracks [19,74].
Recently, Turnbull [75] showed quantitative support
for the conceptual idea that a growing pit in a static
stress field induces a dynamic strain component, a
key factor in stress corrosion crack initiation. This
novel concept of pit growth-induced dynamic plastic Figure 3. SC, pit-to-crack transition and LC behaviour. Note
that in [45,80] ‘short cracks’ refers to ‘small crack’ behaviour,
strain must now be considered as a possible factor
as defined above. (a) Representation of small and LCs growth
determining the transition from a pit to a stress cor- in air [80]. (b) Representation of small and LC growth in artifi-
rosion crack and provides a more substantive expla- cial seawater. Figure adapted from [45].
nation for the localisation of stress corrosion cracks
at the mouth of the pit rather than that based solely
components containing small cracks [17,85–89],
on local electrode potential or pit chemistry. Although
Figure 3(a).
CF should not be confused with stress corrosion crack-
In addition, when pits are re-characterised as cracks
ing, this concept introduced by Turnbull could be con-
for assessment purposes, some observations suggest that
sidered as a possible pit to crack transition factor to
the pit-to-crack transition appears to be independent of
elucidate the CF mechanism. To fully understand the
DK, Figure 3(b). However, this does not represent the
pit-to-crack transition process, it is necessary to ident-
actual behaviour of the crack emanating from a three-
ify what processes or parameters other than the stress/
dimensional pit. Therefore, tests addressing the
strain fields due to the geometry of the pit can affect the
initiation of SCs from corrosion pits are of interest in
pitting process, like local chemistry and embrittlement
order to correlate SC behaviour and LC thresholds [41].
due to the absorption of hydrogen.
In the fatigue crack growth (FCG) process in an
inert environment, two main stages can be distin-
CF models
guished according to experimental observations:
namely, small/short and LC growth. Pioneering scien- As the behaviour of a component may be completely
tists [76–80] found that in the early stages of growth, different in an aggressive environment in comparison
the crack, of a few grains in length, experiences a higher to that in air, models with the capacity to predict
mean growth rate than the rate predicted from speci- environmental-assisted fatigue crack growth rate
mens containing a LC. Using different materials, this (FCGR) and material behaviour under cyclic load
observation was also corroborated by other authors (S-N curves) are of real interest for maintenance and
such as Lankford [81], Brown et al. [82] or Taira [83] structural integrity applications.
and Tanaka et al. [84]. As a consequence, the well- From the damage tolerance point of view, that is
known relationship between crack growth per cycle, when the life of pits/cracks detected in service up to a
da/dN, and the stress intensity factor (SIF) range, critical size is to be assessed, modelling procedures of
DK, obtained for long-cracks gives rise to non-conser- interest for CF assessment fall in the following two
vative predictions in the assessment of the fatigue life of categories:

. Pitting CF models (Pit-to-crack transition models). propagation [103–109]. The pit geometry and dimen-
. Small and LC growth. sions are a function of the potential due to electrochemi-
cal activity in the pit [110,111]. Therefore, the
The review by Lishchuk and Akid [43] mainly mechanisms behind the evolution of the pit size and
focussed on small and LC growth models. shape are key determinant factors to correctly character-
Historically, CF models isolate and quantitatively ise the pit topology and the severity of the stress and strain
characterise each of the regimes mentioned above. fields around the pit and of utmost importance in charac-
The current paper reviews methodologies in which terizing the eventual transition to a crack [112–115]. The
the transition of a single corrosion pit to a single ability of the next generation of CF damage tolerance pro-
large crack is considered by deterministic models. cedures to incorporate these aspects of the physics of the
However, the most important probabilistic models pitting process will allow more accurate designs and
and their contribution are also highlighted. assessments of structural components.
Deterministic models attempt to represent the In the following sections, both classical method-
underlying mechanisms. While estimating the par- ologies and the most recent approaches for assessing
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ameters of these models is usually the focus of statisti- pit growth, the transition from a pit to a crack and
cal modelling. The complexity of the processes crack propagation are presented. Particular attention
involved in CF mechanisms makes the development is paid to the engineering applications proposed in
of mechanistic models a difficult task due to the num- the last 10 years. Classical methodologies are described
ber of parameters involved in the electrochemical and initially with less detail as they have been reviewed else-
mechanical coupled mechanisms. In addition, as where [41,43,116,117]. The main characteristics of the
these mechanisms are material, loading and environ- models are highlighted and the expressions for the par-
ment dependent, these models will be applicable only ameters involved for fatigue life prognosis are summar-
to specific cases and are therefore of low generality. ised in Table 1.
This is the main reason that most of the deterministic
models are of a phenomenological basis, i.e. based on
Damage tolerance models
empirical relationships.
Conversely, because CF is a function of many vari- Since the fatigue limit is indicative of a non-propagat-
ables, many of an uncertain nature, several researchers ing crack, several researchers have considered a pit as
argue that probabilistic models are more appropriate to an effective fatigue crack and subsequently applied
describe the behaviour. Probabilistic models have been LEFM to evaluate the stress concentration effect of
shown to be elegant tools to model mechanisms that the pit. Several models, discussed below, rely on this
are not fully understood. In the O&G industry, prob- concept to assess the pit-to-crack transition in terms
abilistic approaches to pipeline life prediction have of a threshold stress intensity factor range (DKth ). Basi-
been widely reported in the literature [90–101]. cally, three-dimensional corrosion pits are treated as
Under laboratory conditions, generally, the time for effective two-dimensional cracks, so the transition of
crack nucleation from a pit may dominate the CF life, pits to fatigue cracks can be described in terms of
that is, until there is a transition to a crack, the pit LEFM, allowing prediction of the fatigue crack nuclea-
growth process may occupy the most significant por- tion life using simple analytical expressions. The main
tion of the life [102]. Therefore, the evaluation of the drawback of this assumption is that it is neglecting a
pit growth and the pit-to-crack transition are extremely significant part of life: the pit growth life until stabilis-
important steps for accurately assessing the CF damage ation, crack initiation and – both SC and LC-propa-
process. In addition, pit morphology is a critical factor gation life; it is only accounting for a LC growth life
to model and study pit growth. However, in plant from an arbitrary crack size.
applications, loading conditions are rarely constant The model by Hoeppner [118] was the first
and loading, temperature or environmental transients approach proposed to estimate the time or number of
may accelerate any of the stages of CF life, eliminating cycles for a pit to reach the critical depth to nucleate
the pit growth stage, for example. The models pre- a Mode I crack under pitting CF conditions. In this
sented here are discussed below largely in the context model, usually called the ‘critical pit size model’, a CF
of constant loading conditions. Where plant history crack is considered to have nucleated at a pit when
is well known, the models may be applied to gain an the pit grows to a critical size where the local mechan-
indication of the importance of the detailed history. ical condition is adequate for the onset of crack growth,
However, at the design stage, such information is rarely and the critical condition, in this context, is usually
available and simplified cumulative damage models are defined in terms of the threshold stress intensity factor
generally applied, such as Miner’s law in fatigue, to range (DKth ) for CF conditions. The weakness of this
assess the impact of different operational loadings. model is that it relies on the use of the LC threshold
Several studies are based on the characterisation of the (DKth ), which has been vastly established to not be
pit morphology and the critical conditions for crack applicable to SCs. The prevailing conditions around

Table 1. Classical CF models.

Author Summary Model Parameters

Hoeppner [118] Model to determine critical ap acrp critical pit length
pit depth to nucleate a Mode I K = 1.1s p σ applied stress
crack under pitting corrosion Q  function of pit shape
if DK = DKth  a p = acrp .
fatigue conditions. d  pit depth
Cycles to develop a critical Pit as half penny-shaped crack t  time
pit size that will form of aspect ratio a p /2c p c  constant
a Mode I fatigue crack. t = (d/c)3 f (material, environment)
DKth determined empirically

Lindley [119] Method for determining the Ds pa[1.13 − 0.07(a/c)1/2 ] a  minor axis
threshold at which fatigue DKth = c  major axis
[1 + 1.47(a/c)1.65 ]1/2
cracks would grow from pits Ds surface stress range at
Pits considered as semi-elliptical
the fatigue limit
cracks of aspect ratio a/c
Kawai and Kasai [120] Based on experimental data Dsall = DKall /(F phmax ) hmax  maximum pit depth
generated on stainless steel, DKall can be determined from a F  geometric factor
new allowable stresses based on da/dN versus DK plot for a material
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allowable DKth
Kondo [103] Critical pit condition using SIF (DK) p = 2.24sa pca/Q sa stress amplitude
relation as well as a pit growth Corrosion pit law expressed as 2c / At 1/3 Q  geometric factor
rate relation. Aspect where c = A(N/f )1/3 c, a  pit radius, depth
ratio assumed constant. Pit growth rate expressed as A  experimental constant
(Low-alloy steels in deionized dc/dN = (1/3)A3 f −1 a2 p2 Q−2 (2.24sa )4 DK −4 N  number of fatigue cycles
water) 2ccr = (2Q/pa)[(DK) p /(2.24sa )]2 f  cyclic frequency
Q = 1 + 1.464a1.65 a  aspect ratio a/c
Chen et al. [122] Two criteria model: DK
 ≥DKth   CP , CF , n  constants
dc dc
(b) DKth criterion ≥ b  aspect ratio c/a
dN crack dN pit
dc CP 2 −2
(b) Rate competition criterion where = bc , c, a  pit radius, depth
  dN pit 2p
Pit: semi-elliptic surface crack = CF (kt Ds)n F−n cn/2 f f  cyclic frequency
dN crack
(2024-T3 Aluminium alloy) DKtr = 1.12kt Ds pctr /F = DKth F  shape factor
kt  SCF
d da
Rokhlin et al. [123] Fracture mechanics model N= h  specimen thickness
ath C1 [DK1 (a)]m1
h da
for FCI + ath  crack size at DKth
C2 [DK2 (a)]m2

and FCP DK1 = Ds Fc fb fc d  pit depth

(2024-T3 Aluminium alloy) DK2 = Ds Fs fc DK1 , DK2  Stage 1,2 SIF
Q Q, Fc , fb , Fs  geometry factors
fc  crack closure factors
√ C1 , m1 , C2 , m2  experimental constants
Wang et al. [9] DK = bkt Ds pa kt , Ds  SCF, stress amplitude
DKth 2
CF process composed of 2 stages: ai = p( ) a0 , ai  initial/critical pit size
2.2kt Ds
(1) initiation N = Ni + N p Ni , N p  FCI and FCP cycles
a(1−n/2) − a(1−n/2)
(pit nucleation and growth) Np = i SC
Ws fracture energy
CDs b1 kt p (n/2 − 1)
n n n n/2

a(1−n/2) − a(1−n/2)
(2) SC and LC propagation. + Sc f
Nifat , Nicor  fatigue/corrosion
CDs b2 kt p (n/2 −
n n n n/2
1) components
Pit: semi-circular surface crack 1/Ni = 1/Nifat + 1/Nicor AHW  constant from [125]
Linear damage summation model Nifat = AWs /(Dt − 2t f )2 A  Mura et al. constant [126]
(Aluminum alloys) Nicor = AHW /(a3i − a30 ) Dt  shear stress amplitude
b1 = 1, through crack, b2 = semicirc t f  friction stress
3MI p 1/3
A =(
) C, n  material properties
2pne F r

the pit during and after the initiation of SCs, notably, Lindley [119] proposed a similar model to that of
strain localisation-induced plasticity, causes a break- Hoeppner, a method for determining the threshold at
down of LEFM conditions, hence the appropriateness which fatigue cracks would grow from pits. For an
of using LEFM for addressing crack initiation and elliptical crack in an infinite plate, Lindley used Irwin’s
growth is at least questionable. SIF solution to define an expression to estimate

threshold stress intensity values related to fatigue crack concentration associated with the pit regardless of the
nucleation at corrosion pits. pit depth. The validity of this assumption will depend
The model developed by Kawai and Kasai [120] is on the size scale and morphology of the corrosion
based on experimental data generated on stainless damage [124] and will tend to become less accurate
steel under CF conditions and was used to obtain an as the aspect ratio decreases.
allowable stress based on an allowable SIF threshold. Wang et al. [9] described pit growth by means
The model considers the corrosion pit as an elliptical of Kondo’s expression (c = A(N/f )1/3 , please see
crack. Table 1 for the definition of the parameters) and fol-
The earliest substantive approach to predicting the lowed the approach of Harlow and Wei [125] to
pit-to-crack transition and the associated critical flaw evaluate the constant (A = AHW ) in which the pit
depth was developed by Kondo [103] for CF cracks. In growth is taken to be solely dictated by corrosion par-
this model, usually called the ‘competition model’, the ameters (see Table 1 for details). The pit is assumed
growth law of a corrosion pit is formulated using frac- to be of hemispherical and as a result the pit size at
ture mechanics, and the occurrence of CF crack nuclea- which the crack is initiated is given by fracture mech-
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tion is defined by a critical pitting condition, (DK) p , at anics expressions. Fatigue crack initiation (FCI) and
which the crack growth rate exceeds the pit growth rate. propagation life prediction are performed by means
Experimental results by Chen et al. [121,122] of linear damage summation, comprising the number
showed that the pit size and stress intensity factor at of cycles for a crack to initiate from a pit (pit nuclea-
crack nucleation were frequency-dependent, with SIF tion due to fatigue and growth due to environment)
increasing with decreasing frequency. The phenomena and the cycles needed to propagate the crack to fail-
were interpreted by the transition from pit growth ure. The number of cycles to FCI is obtained by
to FCG based on concepts of FCG threshold [118] means of the FCI model proposed by Mura and
and a competitive pitting/cracking rate [103]. Criteria Nakasone [126]. Based upon the concept of a change
for the transition from pitting to fatigue cracking in Gibbs free energy, from a state of dislocation dipole
were proposed as (1) the equivalent stress intensity accumulation along a persistent slip band to a state
factor range required for a corrosion pit to reach of crack initiation along the band, this theory predicts
the threshold SIF range (DKth ) for FCG, and (2) the a critical number of loading cycles when the Gibbs
time-based corrosion FCGR required to exceed the free energy change reaches a maximum value. The
pit growth rate. SC growth theory has been neglected number of cycles at which this happens is defined
in the models mentioned above. Fatigue cracks may as the crack initiation cycle number. Several other
initiate from pits, even when they are small enough approaches have been proposed to account for the
to result in crack SIF values less than that predicted effects of the environment–microstructure interaction
by macroscopic LEFM crack growth threshold analysis. on the deformation and fracture behaviour of metallic
The fracture mechanics model developed by Rokhlin alloys by means of coupled corrosion-deformation
and co-workers [123] includes fatigue SC (Stage 1) formulations at different length scales, both consider-
and LC (Stage 2) propagation based on two different ing time and considering time and spatial-dependent
stress intensity factors. Crack growth during Stage 1 behaviour and are included in a recent review by
is modelled as corner crack growth at the edges of a Pineau [127]. Although the approaches described in
through-thickness hole in a plate. This assumption the review by Pineau et al. allow consideration of
was supported on the basis that fatigue cracks initiate the sensitivity of the microstructures to aggressive
at the edges of the pit with the highest stress concen- agents and the effect of the intrinsic material hetero-
tration to form two corner cracks and that the stress geneities (chemical composition, slip planes, precipi-
concentration factor (SCF) at the edges does not tates, grain boundaries, strain incompatibilities, etc.)
change significantly from that of the through-thickness in the FCI mechanism, the use of the outputs of
hole. In Stage 2, since the crack tip is away from the pit these approaches for the assessment of engineering
and the stress concentration is reduced at the base of components and structures is still a subject of discus-
the pit, the effect of the pit on the crack growth rate sion [128]. In addition, the number of parameters
can be neglected. Thus, the pit with a crack can be involved in the analysis and the complex calibration
approximated by a surface-breaking crack on a flawless of the models makes the use of these approaches
flat surface. Good agreement with experimental data, restricted to research activities only at the present
with respect to describing fatigue crack initiation and time. These approaches are not treated in this review.
growth from pits was obtained, allowing the relation- Ishihara et al. [129] proposed a pit growth model in
ship between reduction of fatigue life and artificial pit which the pit depth is proportional to a function of the
size to be predicted. Besides the questionable use of stress amplitude sa , the loading (frequency and time)
LEFM to model SC behaviour, the corner crack and the number of load cycles. For assessing pit-to-
model (Stage 1) proposed in this work assumes that crack transition, Ishihara used the LEFM approach
the crack growth is independent of the stress proposed by Murakami and Endo [130], which uses

the area-parameter (the square root of the projection It is important to mention that the emphasis here is
area of a small flaw perpendicular to the loading direc- not on simulating any actual environmental or loading
tion) to evaluate the driving force for cavities/pit. This condition of an aircraft structure/component but only
approach assumes that the fatigue strength of metallic on estimating the life under conditions when corrosive
materials containing defects depends on the non-pro- environment and cyclic stressing coexist. The authors
pagating behaviour of SCs. claim that the model can be used to predict the CF
Based on the previous researches [123,131–134], life of any alloy system that exhibits pitting corrosion.
showing the sensitivity of fatigue behaviour to pit In the paper [135], an aircraft aluminium alloy 2024-
depth, the distribution of maximum pit depth was T3 was assessed and the results obtained showed
studied. These research works proposed a modified good agreement with experimental data.
corrosion pit growth law from that proposed earlier The model addresses the coupling effect of load on
by Kondo, defined in Table 1, including the effects of pith growth by means of a stress factor on pit current
stress amplitude and load frequency. The proposed density, thus considering only an elastic component.
model gives good results when the effect of the stress Compared with the effect of plastic strain, the effect
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amplitude is considered in the corrosion pit growth of elastic strain has been reported to be not significant
law, but produces non-conservative estimates when it or to have no effect [107,136–138]. In addition, as it has
is neglected. Experimental results from this work not been validated for coupling conditions, the pro-
showed that most of the fatigue life at very low-stress posed model can be used for aircraft service conditions,
range values is occupied in pit growth period and, where experiences corrosion when it is on the ground
therefore, accurate descriptions of the corrosion pit and fatigue loading during flight, or for assessing
growth law are necessary to evaluate CF life. steam turbine blades for power generation, which are
In what follows, we describe in detail several models exposed to similar service conditions.
that attempt to predict CF lifetime, wherein pitting is a
dominant component of the damage process. Pit growth model
The model is a modification of that proposed by Wang
et al. [9]. The pit depth at any time t is evaluated
Sriraman and Pidaparti (2009) [135]
according to Kondo’s approach and the constant factor
Sriraman and Pidaparti [135] proposed a simple deter- B is expressed based on Faraday’s law as expressed in
ministic model for life prediction that (according to [134] (see Table 1). However, the model incorporates
their point of view) considers the synergy between pit- the stress-dependent behaviour of pit growth, accord-
ting and fatigue. They were interested in estimating the ing to Ishihara’s model:
life of an aircraft aluminium alloy under conditions  
3M 1/3
where a corrosive environment and cyclic stressing ap = (I p )1/3 (A′ )(t)1/3 (1)
were both present. The model was developed to take 2pnF r
into account the accelerated fatigue damage produced where M is the atomic mass of the alloy, n is the valence
in a corrosive environment and the modification of of the atoms, F is the Faraday’s constant, ρ is the den-
the fatigue curve. sity of the alloy, I p is the pitting current and A′ is taken
The model is formulated assuming the material to be 1.01sa , where sa is the stress amplitude in MPa.
being exposed to a chloride ion-containing aqueous Using this equation to obtain the expression for t and
environment and fatigue stress involving complete substituting t = N/f , the number of cycles required
load reversal, where the pitting CF process is composed for a pit to reach a particular depth a p under coupled
of the following stages: pit initiation and growth (under CF conditions is
the influence of both cyclic stresses and the aqueous    3
environment), nucleation of a crack from a pit of criti- 2pnF r 3 1 1
N= ( fa p ) (2)
cal depth (pit-to-crack transition), propagation of a SC, 3M Ip 1.01sa
and eventual LC propagation to signify failure.
Pits are assumed to stabilise almost instantaneously
and the initiation and growth of pits are controlled by Pit-to-crack transition model
the pitting current and the stress amplitude. When the The pit is hemispherical and the SIF is similar to that
pit attains a critical depth, exceeding the threshold level for a semi-circular surface flaw in an infinite plate.
for crack initiation, and thereby nucleating a crack. The The SIF is calculated as DK = (2.2/p)kt Ds pa p ,
crack is instantly formed from the pit that has reached where kt is the SCF. The critical pit size is also obtained
critical depth, and the crack initiation time is, in effect, from the threshold requirement for crack initiation,
the time for the pit to grow to this stage. The crack according to LEFM [9] as
responsible for material damage is initiated only at    
DKth 2 DKth 2
the pit site. In other words, pitting is a prelude to a pc = p =p (3)
2.2kt Ds 4.4kt sa
crack nucleation and propagation.

The number of cycles to crack initiation Ni is

then obtained inserting the expression for a pc into
Equation (2):
2pnF r DKth 2 1
Ni = (f) p
3M 2.2kt Ds Ip
× (4)
This equation shows several experimental features
of crack initiation. A larger current induces greater
pitting, thereby reducing crack initiation life. In
addition, higher stress amplitudes produce lower
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initiation lives, given by the stress factor, i.e., the last

term in Equation (4).

Crack growth model

After some modifications to the approach of Wang
et al. [9] the following expression for crack propagation
is used to calculate the cycles corresponding to crack

1 /2)
− atr(1−m1 /2)
Np =
C1 (2sa b1 p1/2 )m1 (m1 /2 − 1)
atr(1−m2 /2) − a(1−m
2 /2)

+ (5)
C2 (2sa b2 p1/2 )m2 (m2 /2 − 1) Figure 4. S−N diagrams for CF behaviour in 2024-T3 Alu-
minium Alloy by Sriraman and Pidaparti. Figures adapted
where C1 and C2 are the fatigue coefficients for the from [135]. (a) Effect of stress amplitude on the model predic-
small and LCs, respectively, m1 and m2 are the corre- tions of the fatigue life of aluminium alloy 2024-T3 under fati-
sponding fatigue exponents, and b1 and b2 are the gue and CF conditions. (b) S−N diagram for CF behaviour in
corresponding crack geometry factors defined in aluminum alloy 2024-T3 as shown by Newman [139] and CF
Table 1. The crack length corresponding to the tran- predictions. Solid curve: proposed model. Symbols: experimen-
tal results from Ishihara et al. [129].
sition length from a small to a LC is atr , and a f refers
to the final critical crack length that would signify fail-
ure, defined as
. At lower stress levels, the crack initiation stage could
1 KIC 2 contribute to a major part of the materials life. The
af = (6)
p 1.12sa stress factor is seen to be particularly sensitive for
decreasing stress values.
Figure 4(a) shows the S−N curve for aluminium . The model has not been validated under conditions
alloy 2024-T3 under conditions for (a) CF and (b) nor-
of simultaneous cyclic stressing and exposure to a
mal fatigue.
corrosive environment.
Finally, Figure 4(b) depicts the S−N curve for CF
behaviour compared with the experimental data
reported by Ishihara et al. [129]. Li and Akid (2013) [140]
Li and Akid [140] conducted a study on a medium
Summary strength structural steel in an artificial seawater
environment, using plain and pre-pitted specimens
. The model takes into account the influence of fati- in air and under CF condition under fully reversed
gue loading on pit propagation. rotating bending, Figure 5. Emphasis was placed
. The model shows good predictive capability for on the study of corrosion pit formation and the
assessing the CF life of aluminium alloy 2024-T3, development of cracks from pits but pit develop-
although the authors suggest that any alloy system ment, pit-to-crack transition and crack growth
exhibiting pitting corrosion can be tested. were quantified throughout the fatigue lifetime,
. Crack initiation from pit sites is faster at high stress Figure 6, allowing a three-stage model, to predict
levels and can even occur from relatively small pits. CF life, to be developed.

(a) Exponential law:

Npit B
ap = A (7)

where N is the number of applied cycles, N f is the

fatigue endurance and the constants A and B (pit
growth parameters) were interpolated using the data
in Figure 7(b).
(b) Faraday’s law:

ap = (t)1/3 (8)
2pnF r
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Figure 5. S−N data for a medium strength structural steel in air

and artificial seawater environments. Figure was adapted from
[140]. where all the parameters have been previously defined.
The critical pit size is shown in Figure 7(a) and the
cycles to crack initiation by substituting Equation (3),
Pit growth model where N f was obtained from experimental data,
Two different growth models proposed by other Figure 5. Therefore,
authors [103,135,141] have been used in this work:
(a) an exponential growth model and (b) Faraday’s
a 1/B  109.19 
law. As a result, the expressions for the pit growth Npit = (9)
A e0.036sa
are given by

Figure 7. Experimental behaviour of pit depth or combined pit

Figure 6. Experimental data obtained by Li and Akid [140]. (a) and crack depth for a carbon steel in artificial seawater. (a) Cor-
Crack growth rate versus SIF range: air fatigue, (b) Crack growth rosion pit and crack growth rate versus crack length. (b) Cor-
rate versus SIF range: CF. rosion pit growth versus fraction of lifetime (N f ).

Crack growth model: small and LC models

Small and LC growth behaviour has been considered in
this model, using an empirical formulation similar to
the Paris law:
da da da
= + = CSC DK msc + CLC DK mLC (10)
where the constants CSC , mSC , CLC and mLC were deter-
mined by fitting experimental data. The predictions of
the model are in reasonable agreement with the exper-
imental data, as shown in Figure 8, using both pit
growth models; however, the exponential model
seems to be more conservative.
In addition, the Kitagawa–Takahashi diagram, relat-
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ing the fatigue limit and the threshold SIF, was pro- Figure 9. Comparison of the Kitagawa–Takahashi diagrams for
duced for both test environments (Figure 9) where it air and artificial seawater environments [140].
is indicated that the fatigue limit can be eliminated in
a corrosive environment. EPRI fatigue prediction methodology (2009–
2013) [142–145]
This research involved FCGR measurements in the
Summary near threshold regime and fatigue life tests with pre-
pitted specimens using an ultrasonic fatigue testing
. A CF model based on pit growth, pit-to-crack tran- technique for 403/410 12% Cr martensitic steel. The
sition and crack growth gives predictions in good work focused on pit-to-crack transition assessment
agreement with experimental data. and creating tools to predict critical pits in steam tur-
. S−N curves and Kitagawa–Takahashi diagrams were bine blades.
constructed for both in-air and CF test conditions. To study the pit-to-crack transition, artificial pits
Results show a much smaller non-propagating were generated (Figure 10) in the gauge length of speci-
crack region for the CF test, due to a reduction in mens. Test environments included air and two aqueous
the fatigue strength of the material under such solutions at 90◦ C. Fractographic investigations with a
conditions. scanning electron microscope were carried out to
. As the electromechanical effect on fatigue life is not identify the mechanisms of FCI and propagation.
taken into account in the diagram, a fatigue limit
may not exist under CF conditions. Pit-to-crack transition model
. The model uses a linear superposition methodology The pit is considered as a semi-elliptical two-dimen-
to assess lifetime, which does not account for chemi- sional crack, Figure 11(a), where the average ratio a/c
cal and mechanical coupling.

Figure 8. Life prediction based upon the pit and crack growth
model [140]. Figure 10. Artificial pit on a fatigue specimen [146].

was found to be 1.91. Data obtained with pre-pitted obtained, as plotted in the dashed lines in Figure 12,
specimens were evaluated in terms of LEFM, taking a using the following expression:
similar approach to all the methodologies described
above: DKth,pits =  (13)
√ 1+
DK = Ds paY (11) c0

where Y is the geometry factor which includes the shape Equation (13) is used to assess the threshold SIF of
and boundary effects. As shown in Figure 11(b), the geo- cracks, initiated from pits, that lead to failure (propa-
metry factor Y along the boundary of the pit (semi- gating cracks); and those that although initiated will
elliptical crack) is a maximum at the surface which become non-propagating (DK ≤ DKth,pits ). As
gives a maximum value of the SIF at the pit mouth observed in Figure 12, good estimates are obtained in
and not at the base of the pit. Crack initiation has comparison with experimental data.
been observed at these sites, as shown in Figure 13.
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These results are also in accordance with previously

observed crack initiation sites by Turnbull et al. [75]
in which for certain pit aspect ratios, the crack is more
. Empirical equations were derived for the determi-
likely to initiate at the pit mouth, although the expla-
nation of DKth and the DsFL for different stress
nation given in that work for the initiation is the
ratios in two different environments, which allow
accumulation of plastic strain.
the calculation of critical stresses for pitted com-
Moreover, results are correlated with threshold SIFs
ponents according to the local stress range.
of LCs and fatigue limits of smooth specimens in Kita-
. A decrease of DKth with increasing loading ratio R
gawa–Takahashi diagrams which allows prediction of
was observed for all environments as expected.
the endurance stresses of pitted components, where
However, increasing corrosiveness of the environ-
DK has been calculated using the value of the half sur-
ment did not produce a decrease in the SIF
face width (c), instead of the pit depth (a).
threshold value. Closure effects were considered in
Although Equation (11) gives useful description of
that work to be the main reason for this effect.
the SIF along the pit, it does not consider the anoma-
. The pit width (c) is used as the corresponding geo-
lous behaviour of SCs. The authors included the El
metry parameter.
Haddad et al. expression [146] for the SC regime, by
. Corrosion pits can be treated as cracks. The data for
adding the so-called intrinsic crack length c0 to the
transition from a pit-to-crack have been correlated
observed length c. The data were plotted in modified
using the Kitagawa–Takahashi Diagram, which
Kitagawa–Takahashi diagrams where the abscissa is
relates the endurable cyclic stress and pit width to
the normalised crack size c/c0 and the ordinate the nor-
the prediction of fatigue failure. All data for the sur-
malised SIF range DK/DKth , where the intrinsic crack
vival and failure stress intensity were well rep-
length c0 is given by
resented by the extension of the Kitagawa Diagram
  by El Haddad’s expression.
1 DKth Y 2
c0 = (12)
p DsFL
Using the detected value of c as a critical parameter has
Small corrosion pits have also been assessed using been recently analysed by the authors [149,150]. Note
this approach in [120,147,148], among others. There- that, at the time of detection, c is smaller than at failure
fore, estimates for the threshold SIF for SCs were (c+Δc) (see Figure 13), and therefore the threshold

Figure 11. Pit characterisation. Figures adapted from [145]. (a) Schematic representation of pit geometry. (b) Geometry factor along
periphery for a/c ≥ 1.
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Figure 12. Modified Kitagawa–Takahashi diagram for fatigue tests with pre-pitted specimens: (a) air and de-aerated 300 ppm Cl−
solution at 90◦ C (b) aerated 6 ppm Cl− solution at 90◦ C. Figure from [145].

Figure 13. (a) Pit with no cracks; (b) Non-propagating SCs at the pit mouth (c) Fracture surface after further loading at a higher
stress range indicating shape of crack before failure. Figure adapted from [145].

condition for failure, which will give the endurance limit transition value area . 80 mm independent of R. A
of the configuration, is not given by c at the time of detec- good predictive capability of the approach is shown.
tion. This is the main reason for seeking for development
of an alternative approach in accordance with experimen-
tal observations. At at the time of addressing reviewers’ Akid and co-workers (2011–2016)
comments, we have noted that Schönbauer et al. [151] Following on from a cellular automata (CA) modelling
evaluated the pit-to-crack transition by means of the approach used by Akid and co-workers [152] to predict
area-parameter proposed by Murakami and Endo intergranular corrosion, a Cellular Automaton Finite
[130]. Experimental results (R=-1) are depicted in Figure Element (CAFE) model has been developed for simu-
14, where the fatigue strength of 17-4PH stainless steel lating the interaction between localised corrosion and
specimens containing small artificial defects (corrosion mechanical loading at the mesoscopic level. In this
pits included). As shown in the figure, the threshold SIF model, the accumulation of pitting damage under
range, DKth , exhibited a defect size dependency for stress is decoupled into a localised corrosion com-
area ≤ 80 mm, and it became a constant value for a ponent, modelled using cellular automata, and a
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Figure 14. SIF range, DK, vs. defect size, area, at R=−1 [151].

mechanical component wherein the deformation, due quantitative comparison of simulation results with
to localised loss of solid material, is analysed with the experimental measurements show good agreement.
finite element method. Synchronous execution of the A typical CA mesh and CAFE output contour plot is
two analyses and provision of a feedback loop between shown in Figure 15 [108], illustrating the different
both, in real time, provides a good approximation of types of site involved in the process, Figure 15(a),
the interaction between the electrochemical (localised and the stress contour around a developing pit, Figure
corrosion) and mechanical (deformation) damage pro- 15(b). These include
cesses. The model has been employed to simulate the
influence of different electrochemical parameters and . M – metal site in solid state
applied stress on the evolution of depth, aspect ratio . H – proton site
and morphology of pits, with time. Qualitative and . D – passive film

Figure 15. (a) Typical CA mesh used to represent corrosion in an aqueous environment; (b) typical distribution of equivalent stress
around a growing pit. Stress(smax ) = 200 MPa, [A-time: 5400 s, maximum pit depth: 126 mm, aspect ratio: 0.47], [108].

. R – metal site
. W – water site
. P1 – Iron (II) Hydroxide
. P2 – Iron (III) Hydroxide

Anodic dissolution of metals and alloys can be pro-

moted by both elastic and plastic deformation
[153,164]. This mechanical-electrochemical interaction
has been modelled based on the bulk thermodynamic
analysis of metals [155,156]. From this model, under
non-equilibrium conditions and during strain harden-
ing, a kinetic equation relating anodic dissolution due
to deformation can be determined:
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Elastic deformation = exp(DPVm /RT) (14)

Plastic deformation
I De (15)
= + 1 exp(sm Vm /RT)
In e0

where I is the anodic current of deformation, In is the

anodic current for no deformation, DP is the hydro-
static pressure, Vm is the molar volume, De is the plas-
tic strain, e0 is the onset of strain hardening, sm is the
spherical part of the macroscopic stress tensor depend- Figure 16. Plots of (a) maximum pit depth and (b) pit aspect
ratio as a function of time simulating pit growth under stag-
ing on the applied stress, R is the gas constant and T is
nant (without flow) conditions [108].
the temperature. Typical results of this modelling
approach can be found in Figure 16:
An extension of this model to 3-D is currently being Crack initiation lifetimes were shorter in CF com-
developed along with a criterion for the transition from pared to air, suggesting that strain-enhanced dissolution
pitting to cracking. of slip steps facilitates crack initiation than in air and
In a follow-on study, Akid, Fatoba [107] and Evans that this effect was seen to be stress dependent. At higher
[109] conducted a series of fatigue and CF studies using stress levels, this effect (ratio of crack initiation lifetime
American Petroleum Institute (API) 5L X-65 HSLA in air to that in the aggressive environment) was lower.
linepipe steel. Mechanical factors, notably stress and This was attributed to the domination of mechanically
strain fields produced by real pit geometries were eval- driven crack initiation with little need for corrosion pro-
uated by means of an experimental digital image corre- cesses to contribute to crack initiation process. Burns
lation technique [107] and modelled numerically by a et al. [17,114] identified four local driving forces govern-
finite element method. Chemical effects, notably pit ing fatigue crack formation and early growth: site geo-
growth, were modelled using the aforementioned metry, microstructure-scale plasticity and two forms
CAFE approach. of environmental interaction. Furthermore, they
During initial baseline data collection, it was pointed out that their results established that a macro-
observed that, in air, cracks were initiated predomi- elastic analysis leads to erroneously large predicted
nantly from the pit mouth irrespective of stress level. values of Ni that are likely too non-conservative for
As indicated by Turnbull [75], a mechanics-based prognosis of corrosion impact on fatigue. This is in
explanation for this was obtained from FEA of artificial line with recent pit-crack studies [109] that suggest
pits, which indicated that, whereas stress is localised threshold microscopic strain values for crack initiation
towards the pit bottom, strain is localised towards the may be a more appropriate parameter for modelling
pit mouth. Conversely, when equivalent tests were con- the pit-crack transition, see below.
ducted in an aggressive aqueous chloride environment, In acknowledgement that CF failure is often the
cracks initiated from both the mouth and bottom of result of multiple pit-initiated crack growth and crack
pits depending on stress level. Cracks tended to initiate coalescence, a series of tests were conducted to assess
at the pit base at low stress and at the pit mouth at the role of pits in close proximity. For single and double
higher stresses, suggesting an increasingly important pits in both air and an aggressive environment, crack
role of the environment at decreasing stress levels. initiation lifetime decreased with increasing pit size

and stress level. Finite element analysis (FEA) analysis are not included in this model, and may result in
also shows that increasing pit size and stress level additional fatigue life reductions than those demon-
resulted in increased localised plastic strain. A corre- strated here.
lation between plastic strain and the crack initiation life-
time, using a mechanical model for crack initiation, Summary
showed that increase in magnitude of plastic strain CA are discrete computational systems in which the
increases susceptibility to early crack initiation and con- evolution of the state of each cell in the modelling
sequently shorter crack initiation lifetimes. space may be determined by the current state of the
When two pits are in close proximity, cracks cell and that of its neighbourhood cells based on local
initiated at the pit mouth in the region separating the transformation rules [158]. CAs differ from partial
two pits. This behaviour was explained based on FEA differential equations (DE), in that space, state and
results, which indicated that strain is localised in this time and other dynamic variables are discrete and
region [107]. It was also observed that crack initiation not continuous as in DEs [159]. All the cells have access
lifetime for double pits generally decreased with to the same set of states at any time and can assume
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decreasing pit-to-pit separation distance and that loca- only a finite number of states. Based on the local trans-
lised strain increased with increasing pit size and stress formation rules, which apply to all the cells in the auto-
level and, with decreasing pit-to-pit separation dis- maton, all cells are updated synchronously. CAs allow
tance. The dependency of crack initiation lifetime on physical metal-environment system to be discretised
pit-to-pit separation distance was seen at distances into a metal/film/electrolyte cellular lattice of sites
shorter than a threshold separation distance, which (referred to as ‘cells’), where each cell in the lattice
increased with stress level and pit depth. can represent a different species taking part in the cor-
Other approaches that have been used in modelling rosion process. CAs are becoming increasingly popu-
environment-assisted fatigue include that of equivalent lar, especially in corrosion, due to their stochastic
initial flaw size (EIFS) and equivalent stress raiser nature and the ability to simulate electrochemical pro-
(ESR). EIFS is used to characterize initial fatigue quality cesses at a mesoscopic scale [160–162]. Previous
of a durability critical component. It is a quantity studies have shown that the nature of electrochemical
extrapolated from experimental data simply to facili- processes, wherein the state of the species in corrosion
tate life prediction using only LC growth analysis and reactions changes as a result of interaction with other
avoiding the difficulties of SC growth. species around it, makes CA a convenient tool for
Liu and Mahadevan [157] presented a new method- simulating localised corrosion [152,163]. However, to
ology to calculate the EIFS distribution. The proposed date, simulation of pitting corrosion systems involving
methodology is based on the Kitagawa–Takahashi dia- mechanical loading has not been reported in the litera-
gram. Unlike the commonly used back-extrapolation ture, with perhaps the exception of the work of Wang
method for EIFS calculation, their proposed method- and Han, on metastable pitting [163].
ology was reported to be independent of applied load
level and only used fatigue limit and fatigue crack
CF characterisation and life prediction
threshold SIF. Their methodology is combined with
methods in industry
probabilistic crack growth analysis to predict the fati-
gue life of smooth specimens. The O&G, aerospace, electric power and nuclear indus-
Rusk et al. [113] presented the ESR approach tries, among others, experience corrosion and CF, on a
wherein they proposed the following procedure; (a) daily basis, across a wide range of components and
Calculate fatigue notch factor (K fc ) for each test plate structures. At the time of this literature review, no CF
using the appropriate probabilistic strain-life model procedure, which considers the mechanism as a
with Neuber notch-strain relation; (b) Calculate critical whole, is currently applied in these industries.
notch Kt , equivalent notch root radius and fatigue Existing structural integrity assessment procedures
notch ratio (qc ) for each test plate; (c) Fit the notch [37–39] provide simplified guidelines on the appropri-
ratio model to CF test results; (d) Perform region of ate steps to take when CF cracking, as well as local thin-
interest (ROI) analysis of surface topography data for ning, has been detected in service and an assessment of
the corroded component, and extract characteristic the implications for structural integrity has to be car-
notch dimensions; (e) Calculate notch notch Kt and ried out. The burst pressure is usually determined for
equivalent notch root radius for each ROI; (f) Calculate the remaining ligament thickness when defects (e.g.,
fatigue notch ratio (qc ) and fatigue notch factor (K fc ) pits) are blunt; as the likelihood of failure is controlled
for each ROI using notch ratio model. And (g) calculate by plastic collapse considerations. When the corrosion
the survival probability for the damaged component defect is classified as sharp, the use of fracture mech-
using all ROIs found. It should emphasized that the anics is the most common approach to consider for
effects of corrosion electro-chemistry and diffusion sub-critical crack growth assessment. FCGRs in aggres-
processes interacting with fatigue damage progression sive environments are available for a limited number of

instances in British Standards 7910 (Section 8) [38], R6 corrosion. CF is considered by the acceleration of
(Section II.8) [40], FITNET (Section 9) [39], although crack propagation and the use of safety factors. USA
there are no recommendations on how to deal with pit- Aircraft Structural Integrity Program methods employ
ting corrosion. API 579 [37] includes a whole section da/dN curves that are modified for ‘standard environ-
on pitting corrosion, based on local thinning area. mental effects’ [169]. It is not clear whether this
Sources for FCG data for various materials and service method is excessively conservative, sufficiently accu-
environments are provided in paragraph 9. These pro- rate or speculative. For decades, as a result, a more hol-
cedures [37–40] are not intended to cover applications istic structural integrity approach was sought by the
where the corroded component is subject to significant industry to account for the impact of damage accumu-
fatigue loading, or brittle fracture is likely (even under lation from both operational loads and environmental
static loading). effects built into a systematic assessment framework
In this section, an overview of the CF problem in [170]. Several research programmes were aimed to
different industrial contexts is given together with a improve structural integrity assessment methods to
brief description of some of the current approaches properly account for the structural effects of corrosion
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used by industry and a number of projects that are cur- in critical aircraft structure [171]. The Australian
rently under development in the search to improve Defence Science and Technology Organisation
current methodologies for assessing the significance (DSTO) [172] used the concept of Equivalent Crack
of CF in fatigue life of components. Size for corrosion pitting in D6ac steel. Relationships
between corrosion morphology and fatigue life of lab-
oratory coupons were established that allowed cor-
Oil and gas
rosion pits to be described as cracks to provide input
CF is major challenge to the O&G industry [164]. In the for durability and damage tolerance analyses. This pro-
modern O&G industry, water depth in offshore pro- cedure was extensively used [173,174] by DSTO to
duction regions is increasing and the drilling process is assess the effect of pitting corrosion in life assessment
occurring within wells under high pressure-high tem- of primary and secondary structures. Basically, it con-
peratureconditions. High strength and toughness, com- sidered that the stress concentration effect of the pit on
bined with corrosion resistance, are fundamental the beta solution associated with an effective crack
characteristics sought in alloys used for such appli- causes a shift in stress intensity, an increase in crack
cations. Floating production systems (FPS) have been growth rate, and a decrease in fatigue life. A Structural
used for the last 30 years to exploit offshore O&G Integrity Prognosis System was developed within the
wells. However, in many cases the increasing water Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency [175]
depth makes the use of current flexible-line designs research programme in which high fidelity microstruc-
impractical, both technically and economically. Two turally based models of the actual structural degra-
main approaches are thought to be feasible solutions dation processes and novel sensor systems were used
for deep and ultra-deep wells. The first involves the use to detect and quantify CF.
of rigid carbon steel lines. However, corrosive gases in
the fluids make the system even more complicated, as
Power generation
CF can be a problematic issue for these types of steels.
The second approach aims to improve the efficiency of Other industries such as power generation continue to
the flexible line technology, where fatigue is a limiting play an important role in the advancement of knowl-
factor in the design life of flexible risers. To date, fatigue edge and understanding of damage mechanics relevant
design of flexible risers has been based on S−N [165] data to pressure vessels in wet environments at elevated
obtained by component testing in air with the addition of temperatures, notably CF. The effective operation of
a ‘knock-down’ factor to account for corrosion. How- steam turbine blades depends primarily on the accu-
ever, seawater flooding of flexible pipes, due to leakage racy of the prediction of corrosion/cracking damage
of the external sheath, is a possible scenario leading to in order to ensure plant availability and reduce main-
the development of localised corrosion (pitting) and sub- tenance costs. Low-pressure blades and discs are com-
sequent cracking and potential failure. This situation is ponents that frequently operate in environments of
not appropriately accounted for in design codes [166– high humidity and at elevated temperature. The need
168]. In addition, to the authors‘ knowledge, there is to generate robust predictive models is now even
no current O&G standard code which includes the greater since the inception of two-phase on-demand
synergetic effect of corrosion and fatigue. operation where blades are subject to peak period
high frequency running in nominally ‘dry’ conditions,
followed by periods off-peak, where blades operate at
low frequency in ‘wet’ environments. As recognised
Damage tolerance design and maintenance practices in by Schönbauer et al. [145], no predictive methodology
the aerospace industry are not structured to handle appears to have been developed for the remaining life

estimation for turbine blades which have been exposed pit growth and the lack of knowledge concerning the
to CF damage. The EPRI research programme [142], in coupling between mechanical and chemical contri-
collaboration with NPL (UK), BOKU (Austria) and butions to the initiation of cracking for different
STI Technologies (U.S.A.), involved testing and materials and loading conditions makes the assessment
characterisation of CF mechanisms in turbine blades of CF an extraordinarily complex problem with a sig-
made from martensitic steels and the development of nificant amount of uncertainty.
a life prediction methodology. Maintaining structural At the time of this review, most of the damage tol-
integrity of reactor internal and primary coolant erance methodologies, found in the literature, consider
pressure retaining components, such as reactor corrosion pits as equivalent cracks in order to make use
pressure vessels (RPV) is one of the key responsibilities of LEFM, which necessitates experimental testing to
in terms of safety and plant life in the nuclear industry. obtain the required parameters to generate Paris law
Early efforts by the nuclear industry in dealing with CF type curves. The models do not describe a methodology
assessment and life prediction remain dated to late to assess the pit-to-crack transition mechanism, taking
1970s and early 1980s [176] and there is vast experi- into account the synergetic interactions of environ-
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ence in dealing with corrosion and environmental mental and mechanical features, each of significant
assisted cracking of RPVs [26,177,178]. The Inter- impact on the mechanisms affecting the initiation
national Cooperative Group on Cyclic Crack Growth and propagation of CF defects. Most CF life prediction
Rates (ICCGR) was created in 1978 to coordinate the methods are based on linear superposition, in which
works undertaken worldwide on fatigue crack growth the separate contributions to damage of each stage of
in light water reactor (LWR) pressure vessel materials the CF process are taken in isolation; the main reasons
and environments, thus increasing the value of the being
data and avoiding unnecessary duplication of effort.
The EDEAC [179] database was established as one of . There is insufficient knowledge on the underlying
the ICCGR activities to facilitate collection of the mechanisms involved in the evolution of corrosion
worldwide data in a consistent format. Although the damage, particularly the pit-to-crack transition, to
recent Fukushima Daiichi catastrophe (2011) has develop and follow a mechanistically based assess-
impacted on public and political confidence, the ment methodology.
nuclear industry continues to make a primary contri- . Phenomenological approaches can be followed once
bution to the energy supply matrix [180]. There has an extensive experimental campaign is performed,
been significant concern about enhanced FCGRs in as data on initial pit size, aspect ratio and average
LWR environments [181] and as result interest in a growth rate to define the relevant Paris law fitting
more fundamental understanding of the mechanisms parameters are required.
behind these effects [182]. Owing to the lack of rec-
ommendations, fatigue crack growth data for steels in McDowell and Dunne [186] reviewed computation-
Pressurised Water Reactors (PWR) environments are ally based microstructure-sensitive fatigue models and
currently prescribed using crack reference data in air the driving forces associated with crack initiation. The
from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers authors discussed the applicability of LEFM method-
(ASME) Boiler and Pressure Vessel code (Section XI) ologies based on ΔK and pointed out that these are
[183]. The draft ASME Code Case N-809 [184] pro- not strictly applicable as a crack driving force for fati-
vides a FCG law for austenitic stainless steel. The test- gue within the microstructural SC regime and early
ing on which the FCG law is based is predominantly portions of the physically SC regime due to the roles
sawtooth loading applied to compact tension speci- of slip localisation and microstructure; where the
mens in isothermal conditions and explicitly considers value of ΔK is modified by shielding of the crack tip
the effect of the environment through the additional due to short and long range fields of dislocations,
parameters of temperature and rise time applied in where the spatial arrangement of local features or
conjunction with a standard Paris equation. FCG cal- ‘states’ in the internal structure (e.g., morphological
culations using the PWR environment growth law are attributes) at various constituent length scales plays
shown to have the potential to produce significantly an influential role in determining the overall properties
enhanced growth rates over those predicted using the of the material. Material durability and utility in service
law for an air environment [185]. are often dictated by mesoscopic heterogeneity of
structure and its lack of reversibility under cycling or
in extreme environments.
Discussion and concluding remarks
Each material class and response of interest is influ-
The present review has demonstrated the extensive enced by a finite, characteristic set of length and time
research effort that continues to progress the improve- scales associated with key controlling microstructure
ment of CF life estimation. It is recognised that the attributes [187]. For this reason, including cooperative
synergetic mechanisms involved in the evolution of damage mechanisms in a model is performed by using

sets of models that are scale appropriate to the length the stress-life curves. Here he concluded that (i) micro-
scales and microstructure attributes deemed most structure can produce internal textural stresses that can
influential on the target response(s) at the scale of the alter the stress-life relations in multiphase alloys; (ii)
application, usually of high complexity and low fatigue crack initiation at defects such as pores,
generality. inclusions, and machined marks can lead to S − N f
Hochhalter and co-workers reported, in two papers curves with no, one or double fatigue limits, depending
[188,189], on the development of a mechanistic and on the defect (pore, inclusion or machine mark) size
probabilistic multi-scale fatigue crack simulation meth- distribution; coalescence of non-propagating micro-
odology, where finite element models of replicated cracks to form a larger crack by continuous crack
grain and particle geometry were used to compute nucleation appears to be the predominant fatigue
mechanical fields near monitored cracked particles mechanism responsible for the occurrence of an appar-
using an elastic–viscoplastic crystal plasticity model ent fatigue limit in a double-stage S − N f curve and
that captures the effect of the orientation of the grains competition between initiation-controlled and
near each monitored particle. Nonlocal, slip-based growth-controlled fatigue mechanisms results in large
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metrics were used to study the localisation and cyclic variations in fatigue life.
accumulation of slip near the cracked particles provid- Wang et al. [191], adopted a slightly different
ing mechanics-based insight into the actuation of the approach applying the three-dimensional finite
nucleation event. element analysis using a crystal plasticity constitutive
They concluded that such semi-empirical models theory to understand and quantify various parametric
were based upon; (i) the application of cyclic accumu- effects on microstructurally small FCG in a AA7075
lation rate of slip-based metrics to model which incu- aluminum alloy. The study concluded that simulations
bated cracks are likely to nucleate; however, such an clearly showed that the load ratio is the most influential
approach does not accurately model the number of parameter on crack growth. The next most influential
cycles to nucleate a crack; (ii) The local maximum tan- parameters are maximum load and the number of
gential stress acts as the driving force and should be initially active slip systems. The particle modulus, mis-
incorporated to model accurately the number of cycles orientation angle, particle aspect ratio and the normal-
to nucleate an incubated crack. (iii) slip-based metrics ised particle size showed less influence on crack
provides a basis to calculate the reduction in local criti- growth. Another important discovery in this study
cal driving stress required to nucleate an incubated revealed that the particles were more important than
crack due to cyclic slip accumulation; and (iv) the the grain boundaries for inducing resistance for micro-
nucleation direction is normal to the computed, local, structurally small FCG. It should be recognised that
maximum tangential stress direction and the observed this study did not consider the effects of environment
crack path tortuosity is apparently due to the altering of and the impact the role of anodic dissolution has on
the direction of maximum tangential stress due to local the pit-crack transition.
heterogeneous features. This is consistent with obser- It is clear that one of the main issues with current CF
vations of stage-II cracking in peak- and over-aged assessment methodologies is that they are all based on
alloys, where multiple-slip rather than single-slip is fitted phenomenological curves. Hence, there is a clear
dominant. challenge to improve these methodologies through a
Burns et al. [114] discussed the governing mechan- greater understanding of the fundamental mechanisms
ical driving forces at microstructure-scale lengths that involved, especially the conditions leading to the tran-
are intermediate between safe life and damage-tolerant sition from pit growth to crack initiation (pit-to-crack
feature sizes, in this case a crack is considered to initiate transition) and subsequent growth of SCs. While it is
at 1–25 mm surface features and grow to retirement recognised that a linear superposition methodology
within the depth range of 250–1000 mm. Applied stress does not account for chemical and mechanical coup-
and corrosion-geometry effects are modelled based on ling, this approach does appear to be the most workable
the local strain approach to fatigue prediction, with lifetime assessment methodology of the approaches
input from elastic–plastic FEA rather than more basic reviewed to date. These methods could be further
stress and strain parameters. The authors concluded developed by the improved characterisation of the
that experimental characterisation of crack formation different CF stages, focusing on the initiation of cor-
validated the various assumptions used in fracture rosion damage (pitting) and the initiation and growth
mechanics corrosion-modified equivalent flaw size of SCs. As a result, pitting models should be coupled
modelling of corrosion degraded fatigue life. with fatigue approaches to account for the effect of
Chan [190] published a review, for various alloy sys- loading and corrosion on the damage driving force.
tems, examining the roles of microstructural features To achieve this, the driving force should also include
such as grain size, texture, porosity, non-metallic the pit stress and strain concentration effect, which
inclusions in the FCI process and the manner by depend on the macro and micro topology of the pit
which these microstructural effects affect the shape of and the interaction with the environmental agents.

Advanced numerical approaches to account for the localised anodic dissolution leads to pit formation as
mechanical-environmental coupling, as described in previously described in this review. What is often not
the Cellular Automata Finite Element approach, offer appreciated is that a sequential reaction that occurs
a way forward in terms of the next generation of assess- on release of metal ions, especially Fe2+ and Cr3+ , is
ment methodologies. that of metal ion hydrolysis:
The use of microstructural fracture mechanics tech-
niques within finite elements [191,193] to model the M n+ + H2 0  M(OH)n + H + (16)
growth of microcracks through the stress gradient The generation of atomic hydrogen (H+ ) can, in
associated with a stress concentration feature (pit/ turn, lead to hydrogen embrittlement through adsorp-
notch, contact, etc.) are becoming available and tion into the metal matrix. Hence, the question arises as
would allow enhancement of current assessment to whether damage is an anodic dissolution-driven
methods to make them more realistic and accurate. mechanism or a hydrogen embrittlement mechanism.
However, the limitations of these fundamental models Kamoutsi and co-workers [196] studied the
are related to the ability to measure appropriate micro-
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response of AA2024-T351 under exfoliation conditions

structure-scale material parameters. (25 + 0.5◦ C, in a solution containing 234 g NaCl, 50 g
There is a clear opportunity in this field to develop KNO3 and 6.3 ml concentrated KNO3 (70 wt- %)
mechanistically based methodologies for assessing the diluted to 1 L of distilled water) up to 96 hr exposure.
onset and propagation of SCs from corrosion defects Hydrogen uptake was measured by thermal desorption
in engineering structures, which should be validated and corrosion damage by an atomic force microscopy.
both for new and old materials in operation. From a They concluded that corrosion damage starts with pit-
scientific perspective, the current uncertainties in ting and proceeds to pit-to-pit interactions, intergranu-
crack formation mechanism need to be addressed in lar attack and exfoliation. Hydrogen is produced
order to incorporate such modelling into a prognosis during the corrosion process and is being trapped in
capability. To achieve this, a number of areas are distinct states in the interior of the material. While
worthwhile for further study. At the microstructural the authors point out that yield strength is restored
level, development of greater understanding of the on removal of the exfoliated layer, this study does not
effect of cyclic plastic deformation (slip motion) on elucidate the role of hydrogen in the CF process. This
the electrochemical behaviour at the pit surroundings was partially addressed by Burns and Gangloff [197]
is of great interest. This would allow better modelling in a fatigue study on AA7075-T651 subject to con-
capabilities of the growth of pits and the conditions trolled pitting and EXCO-solution exposure used to
that may lead to the initiation of small cracks. The produce localised corrosion damage. Tests were per-
role of the environment on reducing the material formed at room temperature [296 K(23◦ C)] in water
microstructure capacity of arresting cracks is capital vapour saturated nitrogen (RH . 85%), or in dry
and needs to be further understood. Empirical life nitrogen (99.99% pure) at 223 K and 183 K (50◦ C
models that account for this dispersion do not provide and 90◦ C). The study concluded that localised cor-
insights into the physical mechanisms that lead to this rosion prior to fatigue develops a H (or H-vacancy
scatter. Probabilistic analysis needs to assist mechanis- complex) concentration gradient about the pit surface
tically based models in order to address the statistical which promotes crack formation. It should be noted
nature of pitting, the behaviour of SCs and microstruc- that such behaviour may be consistent with high
tures [89,194,195].
From an engineering perspective, for conservative
assessments relevant to many industries, the crack
initiation phase can be neglected when severe pitting
damage is observed. As stated by Burns et al. [114], it
can be argued that in a surface presenting severe cor-
rosion, the initiation stage can be considered to have
occurred, and the analysis starting at the propagation
stage using the appropriate existing flaw size or at the
minimum detectable crack size by the standard NDT
equipment. For better accuracy, the recharacterisation
of the pit as an equivalent crack need to be avoided
and improved methodologies considering the pit
macro and micro topographic features together with
the use of SC growth models [74] are more realistic
alternatives. Figure 17. Influence of initial pit size on crack growth rate in
It should be recognised that both anodic and catho- air and brine [109]. Note similarity of crack growth rates in
dic reactions can lead to damage. In the former case both environments above 1 mm crack extension.

strength materials susceptible to hydrogen embrittle- [9] Wang QY, Pidaparti RM, Palakal MJ. Comparative
ment, e.g. Al alloys, but may not be appropriate for study of corrosion-fatigue in aircraft materials.
lower strength materials such as carbon steel, where AIAA J. 2001;39(2):325–330.
[10] DuQuesnay DL, Underhill PR, Britt HJ. Fatigue crack
it is noted in CF tests that crack growth rates in the growth from corrosion damage in 7075-t6511 alu-
environment are similar to that in air at crack lengths minium alloy under aircraft loading. Int J Fatigue.
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[11] ESDU. Effect of environment on Fatigue crack propa-
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Acknowledgments series 88007; 1988. p. 36–37.
[12] Chubb JP, Morad TA, Hockenhull BS, Bristow JW.
The authors acknowledge the part funding and technical The effect of exfoliation corrosion on the fatigue
support from BP through the BP International Centre for behavior of structural aluminium alloys. In: Atluri
Advanced Materials which made this research possible. Use- SN, Sampath SG, Tong P, editors. Structural integ-
ful discussions with Prof. David Hoeppner from University rity of aging airplanes. Springer Series in
of Utah (U.S.A.), Dr S. Prost-Domasky from Analytical Pro- Computational Mechanics. Berlin, Heidelberg:
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cesses/Engineered Solutions (U.S.A.) and Mr K. Wright from Springer; 1991.

Rolls-Royce are greatly acknowledged. [13] Wallace W, Hoeppner DW, Kandachar PV. AGARD
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Disclosure statement Technology Organization; 1985.
[14] De Luccia JJ, Gergar RD, Jankowsky EJ. AGARD cor-
No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors. rosion handbook, volume 2. Aircraft corrosion con-
trol documents: A descriptive catalogue. NATO
Science and Technology Organization; 1985
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