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All rights reserved. Comments and correspondence can be directed to Sten von Matérn, Technical Editor, Avesta AB, S-774 01 Avesta, Sweden. Tel. +46(0)226-818 00. Telex 40976 AVESTA S, telefax +46(0)226-545 07.

N o 1-1987

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AVESTA CORROSION MANAGMENT

Corrosion Engineering of High Pressure Piping in RO-Plants

by Sten Nordin, Uddeholm Tooling AB, Technology Center, P.O. Box 703, S-683 01 Hagfors, Sweden and Jan Olsson, Avesta AB, Research and Development, S-774 01 Avesta, Sweden

Summary

Through the utilization of high-alloy stainless steel for the high-pressure piping, failures due to corrosion will be prevented. Furthermore, piping with reduced wall thickness compared to stainless steel 316L can be used which facilitates handling, welding and pipe-work assembly. In addition, the smaller wall thickness will allow that outlets for branch connections can be engin- eered for optimum corrosion resistance and cost effec- tiveness.

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Introduction

The high-pressure piping in RO-plants is commonly made of stainless steel. Although the corrosivity largely depends on the nature of the feed water, AISI 316L used to be the favoured stainless steel grade regardless of whether brackish water or seawater should be desalted. Not surprisingly, numerous corrosion failures are known particularly in SWRO (Sea Water Reverse Osmosis) plants because of crevice corrosion or pitting corrosion related to welds.

In addition to improve the quality of the piping by up- grading the stainless steel material improvements can be made by design modifications, improved fabrication, and control of operational conditions.

Metallurgy

Austenitic stainless steels exhibit many attractive prop- erties justifying their use in the water processing industry: completely resistant to general corrosion and erosion corrosion, extremely good ductility, reasonable strength properties, easy to handle and fabricate, and good availability of products. However, the draw-back exhibited by the "standardized" austenitic stainless steels viz. AISI 304 and 316 is their limited resistance to localized corrosion attack caused by chlorides i. e. pitting and crevice corrosion and stress corrosion cracking, SCC.

The latter type of corrosion does not normally occur at temperatures below 70°C and is, accordingly, not of interest to discuss any further as the temperatures in SWRO plants are much lower.

In terms of alloying elements, chromium, molybdenum, and nitrogen have a strong effect on the resistance to pitting and crevice corrosion. In this context the con- cept of PRE, Pitting Resistance Equivalents, has been introduced and reads as follows (ref 1):

PRE = % Cr + 3.3 x % Mo + 30 x % N

In table 1 some austenitic stainless steels are listed in- cluding their PRE values.

Table 1: Composition and PRE-value for various aus- tenitic stainless steels.

Avesta

AISI/UNS

Composition , weight percent

PRE

Cmax Cr Ni

Mo

Others

18-10L

304L

.030

18.5

9.5

-

-

18.5

17-11-2L

316L

.030

17

11

2.2

-

24.3

18-13-3L

317L

.030

18.5

13.5

3.2

-

29.1

17-14-4LN

S31726

.030

17

13

4.2

N

35.1

904L

N08904

.020

20

25

4.5

Cu

34.9

254 SMO

S31254

.020

20

18

6.2

N, Cu

46.5

It is obvious that the grade UNS S31254 offers signifi- cantly better pitting corrosion resistance than 316L This has been proven in a multitude of corrosion tests (ref 2) and in commercial installations in the power, flue gas desulphurization, offshore, pulp and paper, and de- salination industry (ref 3).

Crevice corrosion is much more severe than pure pitting and is, in addition to material and environment, also dependent on the geometry of the crevice. In RO plants

it has been experienced that victualic couplings com- monly in use create crevices that give rise to severe crevice corrosion. Other areas of concern are flanges and threads where crevices are unavoidable. As these types of joints offer such technical advantages that they are not possible to replace the only possibility to safe- guard against corrosion is to use materials with im- proved corrosion resistance.

At the present time, about six percent is the highest possible content of molybdenum in a stainless steel. Higher levels require a nickel base in order to avoid pre- cipitation of harmful intermetallic phases. It is easily understood that the premium to be paid for this will restrain its technical implementation.

Accordingly, stainless steel UNS S31254 is the material that will offer the operator/owner the best option for corrosionfree service.

operator/owner the best option for corrosionfree service. Figure 1 Shows an interior from a large RO

Figure 1 Shows an interior from a large RO plant in the Middle East where UNS S31254 is used for the high-pressure piping and equipment for feed water.

Design

Dimensioning

In RO plants it is not material properties that will deter-

mine pipe diameters as stainless steels behave better the higher the flow rate. Other factors viz vibrations, noise, friction losses will have the major influence on pipe diameters.

On the other hand the strength of the material will deter- mine the required wall thickness. Nitrogen alloying in austenitic stainless steels increase the yield strength with about fifty percent. Hence, UNS S31254 exhibits

a minimum yield strength (ambient temperature) of

300 N/mm 2 compared to 210 N/mm 2 for 316L By cal- culating minimum wall thickness according to ANSI B31.3 and adopting dimensions according to ANSI B36.10 and ANSI B36.19 for a design pressure of 6.9

N/mm 2 (1000 psi) the required sizes arrived at appear

in table 2. This is based on internal pressure only and

no provisions are made for allowances for machining, buckling, handling etc.

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Table 2: Sizes required for a design pressure of 68 bar (1000 psi).

ANSI

316L

S31254

ANSI

316L

S31254

ANSI

316L

S31254

B36.19

B36.19

B36.10

1"

Sch 5S

Sch 5S

4"

Sch 40S

Sch 5S

14"

Sch 40

Sch 10

1

½"

Sch 5S

Sch 5S

6"

Sch 40S

Sch 10S

16"

Sch 40

Sch 20

2"

Sch 10S

Sch 5S

8"

Sch 40S

Sch 10S

18"

Sch 40

Sch 20

2

½"

Sch 10S

Sch 5S

10"

Sch 40S

Sch 40S

20"

Sch 60

Sch 20

3"

Sch 10S

Sch 5S

12"

Sch 80S

Sch 40S

24"

Sch 60

Sch 30

Table 3: Weight, kg/m, for pipes according to Table 2.

1"

Sch 5S

1.3

10"

Sch 40S

62

1

½"

Sch 5S

1.9

12"

Sch 40S

75

2"

Sch 5S

2.4

Sch 80S

99

Sch 10S

4.0

14"

Sch 10

56

2

½"

Sch 5S

3.8

Sch 40

95

 

Sch 10S

5.4

16"

Sch 20

78

3"

Sch 5S

4.6

Sch 40

123

Sch 10S

6.6

18"

Sch 20

88

4"

Sch 5S

6.0

Sch 40

156

Sch 40S

16

20"

Sch 20

117

6"

Sch 10S

14

Sch 60

248

Sch 40S

29

24"

Sch 30

210

8"

Sch 10S

20

Sch 60

355

Sch 40S

43

 

Hence, the data presented are aimed at getting a quick reference on dimensions for two different grades of stainless steels based on internal pressure require- ments.

Branching

The possibility to use lighter pipes opens up an addi- tional corrosion control feature, i. e. design of branching at manifold outlets.

For branch connections either a Tee-fitting or a nozzle connection can be used on heavy wall stainless piping, Figure 2. The Tee-fitting connection is commonly used at connections and joints but for manifolds with a large number of outlets from one runpipe nozzle connections are favoured.

Tee-fitting

one runpipe nozzle connections are favoured. Tee-fitting Nozzle Nozzle connections are ideally fillet welded with a

Nozzle

runpipe nozzle connections are favoured. Tee-fitting Nozzle Nozzle connections are ideally fillet welded with a rather

Nozzle connections are ideally fillet welded with a rather complex weld preparation to provide for the fillet welds at both inside and outside. However, due to space restrictions they are in practice made with fillet welding from the outside only, Figure 3. It is easily understood that this design can leave crevices which are likely sites for crevice corrosion. In addition, a post-weld cleaning treatment is difficult to perform and welding oxides may

remain in the crevice area which will further enhance

the risks for corrosion attack.

A thinner pipe, however, makes it possible to flare out an

extruded outlet to provide for butt welding the outlet pipe. Figure 4.

It is obvious that the Tee-fitting and the extruded con-

nection provides for best flow characteristics. In addi- tion the extruded outlet needs only one weld whereas the use of a reducing Tee will require three buttwelds. In addition, the extruded connection will allow better quality control, cleaning operations and better ge- ometry conditions than the nozzle connection and, accordingly, superior corrosion resistance.

connection and, accordingly, superior corrosion resistance. Figure 3 Detail of a nozzle connection Figure 2 F

Figure 3 Detail of a nozzle connection

resistance. Figure 3 Detail of a nozzle connection Figure 2 F i g u r e

Figure 2

Figure 4 a

Branch connections

Extruded outlet, principle

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4 Figure 4 b 1 ½ " Sch 40S outlet, machined for weld joint and coupling

Figure 4 b 1 ½" Sch 40S outlet, machined for weld joint and coupling connections, to a 4" Sch 10S runpipe. Avesta 254 SMO.

Specifications

A specification is a tool for communication between

various organizations involved in a project. Accordingly,

it is desirable that as many matters as possible for a

piping system are covered by internationally accepted specifications and standards. For the operator this has an additional advantage, i. e. when spares or replace- ment items need to be obtained.

A material is usually specified according to ASTM. It is

then identified by AISI but still better

number (UNS = Unified Numbering Systems for Metals

and Alloys).

As the high pressure piping is to be regarded as a press-

ure vessel it is important that the "specifier" makes sure that the material he selects is covered by a suitable

Pressure Vessel Code so that required mechanical data for determinations of required piping parameters can be done. Furthermore product properties and testing, if any, must also comply with accepted standards. In this context it cannot be stressed enough that all implica-

tions of a selected standard must be evaluated in order

to avoid lengthy and costly discussions in course of pro-

ject execution. For example, ASTM A312 should be

its UNS

is

to use

avoided as this standard does not allow filler metals to be used for making longitudinally welded pipe. How- ever, the wall thicknesses required makes it impossible

to manufacture welded pipes without the use of filler

metal. ASTM A358 is better suited for high pressure piping in RO plants.

A thorough evaluation of valid specifications, standards,

and documentation is a worth-while investment to avoid confusion, delays and unnecessary discussions.

Under no circumstances should a specification be used for development of new stainless steel grades!

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Fabrication

Welding

Provided the welding is done properly a welded joint is preferred compared to other joining methods. However,

it is essential that the welds are done in such a way that

its corrosion resistance properties are at par with the base metal. For some shop welding and most site weld- ing no post-weld heat treatment can be performed. When so it is advisable to use a filler which is "one step" higher alloyed than the base metal i.e. 316L and 317L with Type 904L filler, UNS N08904 and UNS S31254 with Type Alloy 625 filler etc.

It is also essential that pockets and crevices are not created. At such sites stagnant seawater can give rise to pitting and crevice corrosion. A nozzle connection is a very disadvantageous design in this respect.

The most important aspect is, however, that weld ox- ides are either prevented or removed, should some have been formed.

To avoid oxidation on the inside surface of a piping system, all welding must be done with a backing gas in the pipe. Pure argon gas <20 ppm oxygen is normally recommended. Gas protection must be used during the whole welding operation, not just during root welding.

As pure argon gas is relatively expensive, it is important to restrict the purging area inside the pipe by the use of rubber seals on both sides of the weld, figure 5. This can also be done by using special tools.

INERT GAS PURGING INSIDE PIPES

done by using special tools. INERT GAS PURGING INSIDE PIPES Figure 5 Before starting the welding

Figure 5

Before starting the welding the following purging time is recommended to ensure that the air has been replaced by argon:

12xA

purging time (mm) = ———

R

A

= Restricted purging area (litres)

R

= Purging ratio (litres/minutes)

The purging should continue during the whole welding operation and must not end until the temperature on the welded surface is down to 200°C to avoid oxidation.

Brush with stainless steel brush on the weld directly after welding. The formation of oxide is then relatively easy to remove. The welding area should then be pickled. This should, preferably, be done by using a pickling paste. Avoid pickling pastes with a high content of chlorides. Detailed directions for use can normally be found on the paste container.

Where the root of the weld can be reached by hand, the same procedure as for the outside weld is recom- mended. Even if very thorough inert gas protection inside the pipe has been achieved, this can very often

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be difficult to check. It is therefore recommended that a final pickling operation should be carried out. Whether this is necessary or not - and the procedure for doing it

- will have to be agreed between the fabricator, the owner and the engineering/consulting company.

A visual control is, however, usually sufficient. If no dis-

coloration or oxidation can be detected no harmful oxi- dation has been formed.

Quality Control

The quality of products are settled through the use of specifications, testing requirements, pressure vessel codes etc. This covers mechanical properties, dimen- sions and tolerances, mechanical and structural prop- erties of welds, workmanship etc. It is, however, very difficult, if not impossible, to specify test that would safeguard against corrosion under service as well as shut-down conditions and which can be performed at reasonable costs.

As it is known that corrosion failures are likely to take place at welds we would like to recommend the follow- ing. For each weld procedure that shall be used when manufacturing the piping system, a Weld Qualification Procedure shall be performed. In this procedure all welding parameters shall be defined and the welded joint shall then fulfil certain structural and mechanical requirements. This is quite common in the processing industry, offshore, power etc.

For use in SWRO plants we suggest that the Weld Quali- fication Procedure also includes a corrosion test. Although much disputable the ferric chloride test according to ASTM G48, Method A, can be used to set pass/fail criteria. A structural element, to be used in con- tact with seawater, that does not pass a 24-hours test according to ASTM G48 at 35°C will exhibit doubtful behaviour in service. If it passes, it will most certainly behave well in service.

References

1 Herbsleb G, Werkstoffe und Korrosion 33 (1982), p. 334. 2 Nordin S, Ericsson B and Wallén B, Desalination, 55 (1985) p. 247. 3 Wallén B and Abrahamsen T, Proc. 4th Asian-Pacific Corrosion Control Conference, Tokyo, 1985.

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