Failure Analyses

Microbiologically Influenced Corrosion in a Copper Tube Chiller

The increased use of recycled water has led to the need for an effective water treatment program to prevent microbiologically influenced corrosion (MIC). This article describes an investigation of copper tubes in a chiller that failed from MIC because of a poor water treatment program.

Premium Connection Downhole Tubing Corrosion

This article discusses a field background search, macro- and micro-corrosion morphology analysis, and material testing of corroded premium connection downhole tubing. Tubing failure was caused by erosion-corrosion from highly disturbed liquid and high shear stress at the couplings.

Unusual Occurrence Causes Leak in High-Pressure Underground Gas Pipeline

A gas leak was detected on a 56-in (1.4-m) crosscountry gas pipeline from a small orifice on the bottom of an indentation. The pipeline had an epoxy primer and a hot polyethylene coating, and was only four years old. Metallurgical tests on the hole and theoretical calculations indicated that the pipeline had been penetrated by a bullet before being coated. This may be the first such case recorded, and would have been difficult to prove if an explosion had taken place.

Stress Corrosion Cracking of a Vinyl Chloride Stripper Vessel

This article describes the findings of a detailed failure investigation on a UNS S32750 super duplex stainless steel vinyl chloride stripper vessel that experienced cracking at nearly half of the welds. The cracking was identified as Type A “active-passive” stress corrosion cracking, which initiated on the inside of the vessel at both the circumferential and longitudinal welds.

MIC Failure of Type 316L Seawater Pipeline

A Type 316L stainless steel (SS) (UNS S31600) pipeline carrying seawater suffered pitting and leakage within a few years of installation. Visual examination revealed penetrations and shallow pits. Electron probe microanalysis results indicated a decrease in chromium concentration within the pit and in the iron concentration at the pit periphery. Microbial investigation confirmed the presence of sulfate-reducing bacteria and chromium-, manganese-, and iron-oxidizing bacteria.

Failure Analysis, Part II—Case Histories

The academic side of failure analysis was presented in Part I of this article. This included 1) steps in conducting a failure analysis, 2) typical tools, and 3) theory of crack propagation. This article provides several case studies demonstrating the use of these techniques.

Stress Cracking of Stainless Steel Safety Gate Valve Stem

This study investigated the failure of a 15-5 PH (UNS S15500) precipitation-hardened stainless steel stem when installed in a 5 1/8-in (130-mm) hydraulic surface safety gate valve working in a sour gas environment. The results indicate that the fracture failure was caused by sulfide stress cracking, which progressed transgranularly in the martensitic matrix.

Failure of Glass-Reinforced Epoxy Material Piping Components on an Offshore Platform

Glass-reinforced epoxy (GRE) is a synergistic combination of two or more materials with a reinforcement of E-glass fiber. The brittle nature of the material demands careful handling during transportation, fabrication, and installation. This article describes the analysis of components that failed in a GRE piping system. The failed components were examined through destructive and nondestructive tests. The failure modes and analysis revealed that the combined effect of manufacturing defects and installation practices caused various types of failures.

Failure of Electrolyte Pipelines in a Chlorine and Alkali Factory

The failure of electrolyte pipelines made of 1Cr18Ni9Ti steel in a chlorine and alkali factory was investigated. Corrosion was caused by localized attack from the accumulation of chloric ion and hydrogen induced by welding. The corrosion resistances of two alloys in chlorine and alkali industrial environments were determined. It was suggested that Type 304 stainless steel (SS) (UNS S30400) or Type 316 SS (UNS S31600) be substituted for 1Cr18Ni9Ti steel.

Failure Analysis of a 30-in Subsea Oil Pipeline

This article presents the failure investigation of internal pitting corrosion on a 30-in (0.762-m) diameter subsea oil pipeline in western offshore India. Detailed laboratory and analytical studies were made on the failed sample to establish the cause and mechanism of failure. This article describes the analysis methodology, the probable corrosion and failure mechanism, and recommended preventive measures.

Oil Refining Heater Tube Failures from Internal Melting

The mechanisms that usually limit the life of tubes in oil refining heaters are excessive wall thinning from corrosion, erosion, or creep. Tube selection for this service is usually based on material that will withstand these factors. It is not uncommon, however, to experience tube failures from operational factors. This article describes cases where flow restrictions within tubes led to melting from the inside out.

Erosion-Corrosion Failure of a Spiral Heat Exchanger

This article discusses a failure on a Type 316 stainless steel (UNS S31600) spiral heat exchanger. The failure occurred just five months after the equipment had been put into service. The study showed that degradation occurred from erosion-corrosion in the vicinity of the spacers between the metal sheets.

Using Industrial Computerized Tomography for Corrosion Investigation

Industrial computerized tomography (ICT) was used to investigate the corrosion failure of a chlorine condenser tube, shell, and welding. The ICT analysis indicated that corrosion was most serious where the tube and shell were welded together. This work also showed that ICT can be a valuable tool in corrosion analysis because it can detect gaps or interstices, and quantify their size, shape, and position.

Failure Analysis: In-Situ Combustion Injector Well Tubing Failure

Severe plugging of in-situ combustion injector wells was found within 15 months of their commissioning in an on-land oil field in western India. Laboratory investigations were made to establish the cause and identify remedial measures. The tubing sections in the vicinity of the combustion front were exposed to an aggravated oxidation environment followed by moisture and oxygen intrusion through corrosion product. This triggered conversion of magnetite into porous, nonprotective hematite. The corrosion inhibitor treatment in the wet phase was found to be ineffective. A large amount of loosely bound corrosion product accumulated at the bottom of the hole during air/water injection. This plugged the well. Suitable well completion for the operating conditions was designed to prevent future failures.

Failure of an Air Inlet Header of a Secondary Reformer

Failures from the overheating of components may occur from short- or long-term exposure. Failures may cause plant shutdown, which in turn will have economic implications. Pipes that carry gases at high operating temperatures are susceptible to this type of failure. The more destructive ruptures occur at pipe metal operating temperatures well above the ASME oxidation limits of the material. This is typically above the eutectic transformation temperature for any selected alloy. This article presents the general aspects of overheating failures and a case study of a recent investigation of an air inlet header failure.