Prestressing steels occasionally fail by a process named "stress corrosion cracking". This process has not been fully elucidated and several theories exists in order to explain the cases in which real structures have collapsed. This paper briefly mentions the different theories and identifies the progress in understanding whether it is necessary to use a testing method, which is able to separate the different steps and mechanisms contributing to the failures. This paper presents the methodology used for inducing controlled localized attack to study the susceptibility of the high strength steels resistance to stress corrosion cracking (SCC). The method is designed to study the growth of cracks initiated from a mechanical notch; the crack is not produced by fatigue. It consists of several stages: coating of the bar with epoxy resin, generation of a small notch, constant load and controlled potential test in the media, mechanical test in air and fractographic study. It allows us to calculate the crack propagation rate and the fracture toughness in the same test. Finally, it has been possible to apply the surface mobility mechanism (SMM) in order to identify the SCC mechanism that operates. © 2007.
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