Wet  Phosphoric Acid (Wet-PAC)

The corrosion to austenitic stainless steel of SUS 316L and 316LN occurring due to carriage of Wet Process Phosphoric Acid is a very complex phenomenon. White Phosphoric acid (pure food grade) is not corrosive to stainless steel, however, the Wet PAC (fertilizer grade-green PAC and BK PAC) is perhaps the most aggressive and difficult of all chemicals transported in a stainless steel chemical tanker. The corrosion is affected by various impurities normally present in wet process acid. Only 317LN and duplex 2205 stainless steels can be said to resist this acid without too much damage and that too if the loading temperatures are within limits.

The tank surface should be smooth polished under 3.5 micron. Tank cleaning before and after loading requires special attention in order to avoid contamination. For example, after discharge the tanks should be cleaned by fresh water first, than seawater, then immediately again fresh water to remove all chlorides from tank. This is crucial to avoid elephant skin.

Please note acid / sea water mixture will result in pitting. After final cleaning with fresh water (pH7 neutral) tanks needs to be passivated in order to restore the passivity of the stainless steel as the phosphoric destroys the passive oxide film (coating) of the stainless steel.


The corrosion resistance of stainless steels depends on the quality of a very thin oxide layer, the so called “passive layer”. Maintaining this passive layer is one of the most important aspects in maintaining the quality of stainless steel. Damage of the passive layer, in time, will cause severe corrosion. Therefore preserving the passive layer is a must. Passivation or Re-Passivation on regular base is highly recommanded to ensure a solid uniform Chromiun Oxide layer. High Passivity means better corrosion resistance.

Wet PAC corrosion bulkhead
cargotank polishing
Cargotanks passivation

Wet Process Phosphoric Acid Damages in brief facts  (read more)

In case stainless steel cargo tanks have been affected by WPA cargoes, the most common problems are:

  • Black discoloration or black oxidation (also known as blackening) of the Stainless Steel surfaces mainly above liquid level caused by a chemical reaction (oxidation).

  • Black dust which is a corrosion product and seems to be coming of from the surface endlessly.

  • Extreme High Surface Roughness (High Ra)

  • (Deep) Pitting Corrosion

ISTECH has the solution for your corrosion problems

ISTECH has the right solutions available for each and all of these problems. We are well known as the stainless steel surface repair and treatment troubleshooter in these specific issues for many years. Furthermore, we have also several chemical surface cleaning and treatment products available to reduce the risks and to solve several issues such as stainless steel passivity recovery, cleaning of Wet Phosphoric Acid green residues.


ISTECH Metal Finish BV

We beat corrosion

ISTECH Metal Finish BV
Edisonstraat 11
NL-3261 LD Oud-Beijerland
(Rotterdam area)
The Netherlands

Phone: + 31 (0) 78 2034 029
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