Study of stainless steel electrodes after electrochemical analysis in sea water condition

M. Kovendhan, Hari Kang, Sangmin Jeong, Jong Sang Youn, Inhwan Oh, Young Kwon Park, Ki Joon Jeon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


For water electrolysis, a rare earth material (eg., platinum) is often used as an electrode, but because of the high cost and toxicity of chemicals, researchers are searching for cost effective and eco-friendly alternative materials. Various alloys and metals have been long explored for use as electrode materials in different media. Stainless steel (SS 304) electrodes are cost effective and have a large surface area; further their catalytic performance is comparable to that of carbon coated noble metals cathodes. Stainless steel has good mechanical properties and durability so it is widely used in desalination plants, oil and gas industries, ship building, etc. However, over a period of time it corrodes very quickly in saline water. To improve the stability and durability of the electrodes (i.e., to minimize corrosion), we anneal the samples under two different sets of conditions and test the electrodes in 3.5% NaCl solution. The anodic peak (−0.25 V) observed for bare stainless steel result from the formation of iron (II) hydroxide [Fe(OH)2]. The Raman bands observed at 210 and 274 cm−1 for bare stainless steel result from the formation of α-Fe2O3 owing to partial, anodic, and cathodic reactions occurring on the electrode which disrupts the surface layers. High intensity X-ray diffraction (XRD) and Raman peaks of Cr2O3 and MnCr2O4 observed in argon and hydrogen annealed sample after cyclic voltammetry reveal that this sample is more stable than bare and air annealed samples. XRD reveals mixed oxide phases in addition to eskolaite and magnetite phases. Scanning electron microscope (SEM) images show that although the air-annealed sample has a soft, spongy structure, Na and Cl ions are adsorbed in the voids on the outer surface of the electrode leading to quick degradation. For the air-annealed sample the oxide appears to adhere poorly to the stainless steel. Oxygen (ie., oxide composition) may play a key role in adherence and growth of Cr2O3 formed at high temperature. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) reveals that large amounts of Cr and Mn are dissolved/corroded into the electrolyte for air annealed sample which is in good agreement with the Raman and SEM results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)549-555
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Research
StatePublished - Jun 2019


  • Cyclic voltammetry
  • Raman spectra
  • Sea water
  • Stainless steel
  • XPS


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