Historical views on stress corrosion cracking of nickel-based alloys: The coriou effect

R. W. Staehle

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

26 Scopus citations


This is a story about Henri Coriou of the Commissariat à l'Énergie Atomique and his work to understand alloys to be used in the primary and secondary sides of pressurized water-cooled nuclear reactors. His work started with showing that the alloy common at the time, Inconel (alloy 600), was not suitable for use despite the popular view that this was the right material. He was opposed by the International Nickel Company (INCO) and their colleagues. By 1968 their opposition withered, and the community accepted Coriou's findings, which he had organized a very substantial program to support. INCO organized a program that was weak technically and of little merit. At the same time, Coriou developed Alloy 800, a greatly superior alloy. Despite Coriou's strong and valid opposition, reactor programs of France, the United States, and Japan selected Inconel for its material for tubing in steam generators; too late, they found that Coriou was indeed correct, and that all of the world's steam generators would need to have their tubes replaced at an aggregate cost of about US$50. billion. Coriou is indeed a modern hero.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationStress Corrosion Cracking of Nickel Based Alloys in Water-Cooled Nuclear Reactors
Subtitle of host publicationThe Coriou Effect
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages129
ISBN (Electronic)9780081000625
ISBN (Print)9780081000496
StatePublished - Feb 19 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 European Federation of Corrosion. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


  • Contaminated water
  • Corrosion resistance
  • Electrochemical corrosion
  • High-temperature water
  • Iron-nickel-chromium alloys
  • Nuclear power
  • Pure water
  • Resistance to stress corrosion cracking
  • Steam generators


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