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WELD OVERLAY FOR CORROSION PROTECTION OF CONTINUOUS DIGESTERS

Conference Paper · October 2002

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Paper presented at the TAPPI Fall Technical Conference, San Diego, CA, September 2002.

WELD OVERLAY FOR CORROSION PROTECTION OF CONTINUOUS DIGESTERS

Angela Wensley, Ph.D., P.Eng.


Pulp and Paper Corrosion Specialist
Angela Wensley Engineering Inc.
15397 Columbia Avenue
White Rock, BC, Canada
V4B 1K1

ABSTRACT
________________________________________________

Stainless steel weld overlay is typically applied for protection of carbon steel digesters from corrosion. This paper
explains the various materials and welding processes that can be used, the modes of application, the locations where
weld overlay can be applied, areas where overlay is not recommended, problems encountered during application
such as hot cracking, and the quality assurance measures necessary to ensure that the overlay is sound. Several case
histories of successful overlay applications are described.

________________________________________________

INTRODUCTION

Corrosion resistant weld overlay is being increasingly considered for corrosion protection of continuous digesters in
the pulp and paper industry. As the population of continuous digesters continues to age and become inexorably
thinner due to corrosion of the carbon steel wall, applications of weld overlay for corrosion protection are expected
to increase. The predominant material selected for weld overlay of continuous digesters is Type 309 stainless steel.
The term "Type 309 stainless steel" is used in this paper for overlays that deposit on carbon steel with a composition
similar to that produced when using ER309LSi wire or E309L electrodes. Unlike the situation in batch digesters
where corrosion of Type 309 stainless steel weld overlay corrosion has been a chronic problem, corrosion of Type
309 stainless steel is not a problem in continuous digesters. Type 309 stainless steel weld overlays have not
experienced significant corrosion after being in service in continuous digesters for well in excess of 30 years.

History

Weld overlay was first applied in the pulp and paper industry in the 1950's to extend the service life of corroded
carbon steel batch digesters [1-8]. There were applications of weld overlay in continuous digesters as early as the
1960's [9-14]. Many of the early weld overlays had as-deposited chromium contents of only 12% to 16% [4,
6,7,15]. The detrimental effect of hot cracks or microfissures in the weld overlays was well understood by the early
1960's [5, 6,7,8,15]. Two-layer overlays were attempted to obtain better chemistry and reduce the chances of
cracking [16]. TAPPI produced the first guideline for stainless steel weld overlay of digesters in 1962 [17]. The
latest revision of this document, TAPPI Technical Information paper TIP 0402-03, was issued in 1998 [18].

After the catastrophic failure of the Pine Hill continuous digester in 1980 due to caustic stress corrosion cracking
(SCC) at the carbon steel weld seams, the TAPPI Digester Cracking research Committee sponsored research that
determined three methods for protection against SCC: anodic protection, thermal spray coating, and weld overlay
[19]. Stainless steel weld overlay was used as an SCC preventive measure as early as 1981 [20].

While weld overlay provided protection of the carbon steel weld seams in the digester wall, it unfortunately moved
the SCC problem to the edges of the weld overlay bands [21]. SCC occurred in the carbon steel at the overlay band
edges due to the high residual welding stresses at this location [22]. There was a period of several years when
overlay bands were applied over circumferential weld seams in digesters. These bands have now been removed
from many digesters due to problems both with SCC in the impregnation zone or "fingernailing" (preferential
corrosion of the carbon steel heat affected zone) adjacent to the overlay at lower elevations in the digester. Weld
overlay banding of weld seams in digesters is no longer recommended. Weld overlay in the impregnation zone is
not recommended unless the entire surface is overlaid.

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Paper presented at the TAPPI Fall Technical Conference, San Diego, CA, September 2002.

The widespread use of weld overlay for protection against corrosion thinning in the wash zone and between the
extraction and cooking screens came about in the 1990's [23-27]. There have been no reports of SCC adjacent to
weld overlays located at elevations below the impregnation zone in continuous digesters. This paper addresses the
application of weld overlay for corrosion protection in the wash, extraction, and cooking zones.

The major difference between overlaying of batch and continuous digesters is the availability of the vessels for the
downtime required for application of a weld overlay. When a mill has numerous batch digesters it can usually
afford to take one off line for the 3e weeks it may take to complete a weld overlay job. Most continuous digester
mills have only one continuous digester. It is often only possible to take a continuous digester off line during the
annual mill shutdown (that may last from 5 to 7 days) or during those rare occasions when there is an extended
outage; for example, due to a major rebuild of the recovery boiler. Since automatic welding processes are at least
twice as fast as manual welding processes only automatic overlay application is practical for significant surface
areas in digesters. Automated equipment (especially using several welding machines simultaneously) allows
application of weld overlay at sufficiently high production rates to cover large surface areas within the time frame of
a mill annual shutdown.

Welding Processes

Today there are two welding process in widespread application for automatic weld overlay of both continuous and
batch digesters: gas metal arc welding (GMAW) and submerged arc welding (SAW). Both of these welding
processes are capable of producing overlays of excellent quality and soundness. GMAW overlay requires that tracks
temporarily be installed on the digester wall in order to support the welding machine heads. SAW overlays are done
from a rotating turntable. It may be necessary to remove part of the central pipe for application of a SAW overlay.
The properties of weld overlays deposited using the GMAW and SAW methods are summarized in Table 1. Other
welding processes such as shielded metal arc welding (SMAW), gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW), and flux cored
arc welding (FCAW) are used only for small areas or for repairs to overlays made using GMAW and SAW. The
quality of SMAW and FCAW overlays is generally poorer than that of GMAW or SAW overlays.

Table 1.
Application Parameters for Type 309 Stainless Steel Overlays applied in Continuous Digesters.
Process Mode Production Rate Travel Speed Thickness
ft2/h/machine m2/h/machine ipm cm/min inch mm
GMAW Horizontal 1.0-1.4 0.09-0.13 30-33 76-84 0.19 4.9
GMAW Vertical1 1.3-1.6 0.12-0.15 5-15 13-40 0.15 3.8
GMAW Vertical2 2.9 0.27 - - 0.15 3.7
SAW Horizontal3 2.7 0.25 50 127 0.19 4.7
(1) GMAW overlay with a 1-inch (25 mm) wide weld bead; production rates for single torches.
(2) GMAW overlay with twin 2-inch (50 mm) wide weld beads; production rate is for a tandem arc machine.
(3) Production rate for the SAW overlay is for a 2-head machine.

SAW overlays are applied using two closely-spaced welding heads where the second head completely re-melts the
weld deposit from the first head. This gives a penetration into the carbon steel of approximately 0.125 inch (3 mm)
and an overlay thickness of approximately 0.25 inch (6 mm). GMAW overlays are made using single welding heads
that give a lower penetration of approximately 0.060 inch (1.5 mm) into the carbon steel substrate and a comparable
overlay thickness (for overlay applied in the horizontal mode). The lower penetration for the GMAW process
means that there is a greater risk of lack of fusion (LOF) than is the case with SAW. The oscillating heads now used
with GMAW overlay give a lower incidence of LOF than was the case for older GMAW overlays. In the author's
experience LOF has not been a problem of any significance in any digester weld overlays.

Production rates for individual GMAW overlay heads are lower than for SAW overlay; however, it is possible to
simultaneously operate more GMAW machines in a continuous digester than is the case with SAW machines.
There can be up to eight GMAW machines installed around the wall of a continuous digester at a given elevation,
and many more machines installed at different elevations. The author has seen nineteen machines operating
simultaneously at different elevations in a continuous digester (one of the case histories described later in this
paper). It is only possible to operate one two-wire SAW machine at a given elevation. Since it is possible to put
many more GMAW machines than SAW machines in a continuous digester the overall production rates using

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Paper presented at the TAPPI Fall Technical Conference, San Diego, CA, September 2002.

GMAW can be much higher. Because it takes a longer time to overlay a large area in a continuous digester using
SAW this process is most practical for overlaying continuous digesters during an extended shutdown.

Alloys

The undiluted compositions of two of the stainless steel alloys that have been used for weld overlay of digesters are
given in Table 2. The Table shows both the permitted ranges for the elements as published by the American
Welding Society (AWS) [28] and the typical element ranges from the authors experience with dozens of different
wire heats used for the overlay of continuous digesters. As mentioned above, most overlays today are done using
Type 309 stainless steel. When selecting Type 309 stainless steel welding consumables it is very important that the
compatibility with the substrate metal be determined, for example, using the DeLong diagram [29] or the Welding
Research Council 1992 diagram [30]. These diagrams predict the phases that will be present in the weld metal and
include the effect of nitrogen, an element that is now a significant addition to many stainless steel welding wires.

Table 2.
Compositions of Stainless Steel Wires used for Overlaying Continuous Digesters (%).
Material Cr Ni C Mn P S Si Mo Cu N Ferrite
ER309LSi 23.0- 12.0- 0.03 1.0- 0.03 0.03 0.65- 0.75 0.75 - -
range 25.0 14.0 2.5 1.0
Typical 23.1- 13.6- 0.012- 2.2- 0.02 0.003 0.8- 0.1- 0.08- 0.05- 10-
wires 24.6 13.9 0.022 2.3 1.0 0.3 0.26 0.13 15
ER312 28.0- 8.0- 0.15 1.0- 0.03 0.03 0.3- 0.75 0.75 - -
range 32.0 10.5 2.5 0.65
Typical 30.0- 8.6- 0.09- 1.6- 0.02 0.004 0.3- 0.2 0.07- 0.05- 45-
wires 31.0 9.3 0.11 1.9 0.5 0.17 0.06 51
Single values are maximums.

It is not possible to include a typical composition or ferrite content of a SAW wire in Table 2 since the wires are
tubes that are filled with flux and both provide the elements that appear in the as-deposited welds.

Of interest in Table 2 is the nitrogen content of the welding wires. Although there is no nitrogen content specified
by AWS for the welding wires, the nitrogen content is actually of great importance for weld overlays in digesters.
Wires having high nitrogen content (greater than 0.1%) tend to be less ferritic and to deposit overlays that have
ferrite below the 3% minimum recommended in order to prevent hot cracking in multi-pass stainless steel welds
[31]. There has also been considerable application of nickel-base weld overlays such as Alloy 82 (ERNiCr-3) and
Alloy 625 (ERNiCrMo-3). Although the corrosion resistance of the nickel-base materials is nearly as good as that
of Type 309 stainless steel they are not as economical as the stainless steels to apply.

Overlay Mode

Weld overlays can be applied in either the horizontal or vertical modes. SAW can only be applied horizontally with
the welding heads mounted on a turntable that spirals continuously in the same direction around 360° of the
circumference of the digester (Figure 1). GMAW can be applied either horizontally or vertically (Figures 2 and 3).
For GMAW overlays applied in the horizontal mode, several GMAW machines are typically installed at one
elevation in the digester such that any given machine only applies overlay around a small portion of the digester
circumference. When the welding head reaches the end of its path it is indexed upwards and resumes overlaying in
the opposite direction. After all the machines at a given elevation have applied a certain height of overlay such as 5
feet (1.5 m) the tracks on the wall are moved upwards or "jumped" such that the overlay can be resumed at a higher
elevation.

Vertical GMAW overlays are applied in the downward direction at a higher travel speed and have an even higher
production rate than horizontal GMAW overlays. As is the case with horizontal GMAW overlay welding there can
be several vertical GMAW overlay machines operating at the same elevation in the digester. The number of heads
operating at a given elevation can be increased by operating machines in tandem (Figures 4 and 5). Vertical travel
can be as much as 14 feet but is usually less. When the welding head reaches the bottom of its travel the welding
current is switched off and the head returns to the top of its run and is indexed over such that the next bead partially

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Paper presented at the TAPPI Fall Technical Conference, San Diego, CA, September 2002.

overlaps the prior bead. Vertical overlays have lower chromium content (17% to 20%) than do horizontal overlays
and are thinner (typically 0.150 inch with a 0.070 inch minimum). Vertical overlays are also more prone to welding
defects (predominantly porosity). The additional time required to repair the defects in vertical overlays may lose the
time saved by the faster production rate.

CORROSION TESTING

The author has conducted numerous evaluations of the corrosion resistance of stainless steel and nickel-base weld
overlays in batch and continuous digester solutions some of which have been previously published [32-37].
Extraction liquors in continuous digesters can be highly aggressive to carbon steels but are not particularly corrosive
to stainless steels. Batch digester liquors, on the other hand, can be very corrosive to both carbon steels and stainless
steels. In general, for both batch and continuous digester liquors the corrosion resistance of stainless steels improves
with increasing chromium content [36]. The beneficial effect of chromium is much more pronounced for corrosion
in batch digester liquors where overlay corrosion rates are considerably higher than in continuous digester liquors.

Corrosion in Continuous Digester Extraction Liquors

Digester overlay specimens were prepared by removing the carbon steel backing from the weld overlay deposits on
carbon steel substrates. The top surface of the overlay was machined flat and all sides of the resultant rectangular
coupons approximately 1 inch by 1 inch by 0.125 inch (25 mm x 25 mm x 3 mm) in dimension were ground to 600
grit. In this manner the overlay specimens were relatively uniform in composition and effects of unmixed zones
near the fusion line and of possible chromium depletion at the surface were eliminated. The specimens were
exposed in autoclaves containing digester extraction liquors at a temperature of 338°F (170°C) under potentiostatic
(constant corrosion potential) conditions for a period of 5 days. Potentials tested were in the range from -150 to
+100 millivolts with respect to a molybdenum reference electrode (mV vs Mo). This range of potentials from
highly reducing conditions (-150 mV vs Mo) to highly oxidizing conditions (+100 mV vs Mo) is believed to
encompass the range of possible corrosion potentials that stainless steels and nickel-base alloys could possibly
experience in a continuous digester. After exposure the specimens were removed, cleaned, and their corrosion rates
determined from their weight loss.

Tables 3, 4, and 5 gives the corrosion rate results for ER309LSi, ER312, and ERNiCrMo-3 single-pass weld
overlays in continuous digester extraction liquors from several mills. Weld overlays made using type ER309LSi
stainless steel wires experienced very low corrosion rates that were no greater than 0.55 mpy (0.014 mm/y). At such
a low corrosion rate an overlay of 100 mils (2.5 mm) thickness would have a predicted service of 182 years. Weld
overlays made using type ER312 stainless steel wires experienced significantly lower corrosion rates that were no
greater than 0.13 mpy (0.003 mm/y). Weld overlays made using ERNiCrMo-3 nickel-base wires experienced
corrosion rates that were as high as 2.48 mpy (0.063 mm/y). Even at this highest corrosion rate a 100 mil (2.5 mm)
thick overlay would have a predicted service life of 44 years. Corrosion testing has confirmed the suitability of
these alloys for use in continuous digesters.

Table 3.
Corrosion Rates of ER309LSi Weld Overlays in Continuous Digester Extraction Liquors (mpy).
Wood Temp. Potential, mV vs Mo
Mill Type °F °C +100 +50 0 -50 -100 -150
A SWD 338 170 0.08 - 0.18 0.24 0.20 -
B SWD 338 170 0.11 - 0.24 - 0.18 -
B HWD 338 170 0.05 - 0.04 - 0.04 -
D SWD 338 170 0.08 0.01 0.21 0.20 - 0.19
E SWD 338 170 - 0.09 0.50 - 0.33 -
G SWD 329 165 0.23 0.40 0.55 0.55 0.28 -
G HWD 309 154 0.04 0.04 0.03 0.03 0.00 -
J SWD 338 170 0.13 0.35 0.52 0.38 0.22 -
M SWD 320 160 - 0.04 - 0.00 - 0.00
N SWD 338 170 0.04 0.04 0.04 0.08 - 0.04

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Paper presented at the TAPPI Fall Technical Conference, San Diego, CA, September 2002.

Table 4.
Corrosion Rates of ER312 Weld Overlays in Continuous Digester Extraction Liquors (mpy).
Wood Temp. Potential, mV vs Mo
Mill Type °C +100 +50 0 -50 -100 -150
D SWD 338 170 0.04 0.03 0.00 0.07 - 0.00
E SWD 338 170 - 0.09 0.12 - 0.13 -
G SWD 329 165 0.04 0.04 0.07 0.00 0.00 -
G HWD 309 154 0.00 0.00 0.04 0.00 0.00 -
M SWD 320 160 - 0.04 - 0.00 - 0.00
N SWD 338 170 0.04 0.00 0.00 0.04 - 0.04

Table 5.
Corrosion Rates of ERNiCrMo-3 Weld Overlays in Continuous Digester Extraction Liquors (mpy).
Wood Temp. Potential, mV vs Mo
Mill Type °F °C +100 +50 0 -50 -100 -150
A SWD 338 170 2.48 - 1.67 1.42 0.27 -
B SWD 338 170 1.61 1.37 0.65 0.55 0.34 -
B HWD 338 170 0.05 0.32 0.11 - 0.05 -
M SWD 320 160 - 0.07 - 0.09 - 0.04

Corrosion in Acid Cleaning Solutions

Several materials were tested in an inhibited 3% hydrochloric acid (HCl) solution to simulate the possible effects of
a typical digester acid cleaning on materials of construction (Table 6). The testing was done at 158°F (70°C), the
temperature at which many continuous digesters have been acid cleaning (the author recommends acid cleaning be
done at temperatures no greater than 120°F (49°C) in order to minimize possible corrosion damage). The acid was
properly inhibited in accordance with the inhibitor manufacturer's recommendations.

Table 6.
Corrosion Rates of Materials exposed in Inhibited 3% HCl at 158°F.
Material mpy mm/y
ER309LSi stainless steel weld overlay 20 0.51
A285-C "Mod" (low silicon) carbon steel 44 1.12
E7018 carbon steel weld metal 46 1.17
Type 2507 duplex stainless steel 107 2.72
Type 2304 duplex stainless steel 153 3.89

The ER309LSi stainless steel weld overlay had a relatively low corrosion rate. Although 20 mpy (0.51 mm/y)
seems to be a high rate the actual time of exposure to the acid solution is small. The acid preferentially attacked the
ferrite phase. Stainless steel weld overlays that contain higher amounts of ferrite (such as those produced using the
SAW process) experience noticeable visual corrosion of the overlay after many years of acid cleanings but this
corrosion is only superficial.

PREPARATION FOR WELD OVERLAY

Once it has been decided to protect the digester wall using Type 309 stainless steel weld overlay and an overlay
contractor with experience in digester overlay has been selected, there are many tasks that need to be addressed well
in advance of the job. It is highly desirable to have a pre-overlay meeting involving mill personnel, the overlay
contractor, the quality assurance (QA) person, the scaffolding contractor, the surface preparation contractor, and any
other people who may be involved with or affected by the overlay job.

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Paper presented at the TAPPI Fall Technical Conference, San Diego, CA, September 2002.

Area to be Overlaid

A typical weld overlay job in a continuous digester may involve between 500 and 5000 square feet (46.5 to 465
square meters) of the digester wall. Small surface areas can be overlaid during a typical 5 to 7 day annual shutdown
while larger areas may require that the overlaying be accomplished over a number of successive years. If the Code-
required minimum wall thickness is not in imminent danger overlaying over successive years without having to take
any additional downtime in addition to that normally scheduled is a viable alternative. There may be an urgent
concern to protect the digester, for example, due to the onset of rapid corrosion thinning. In such cases larger
surface areas can be protected using multiple overlay machines.

Table 7 gives some estimated times for the automatic GMAW overlay using a conservative production rate of 1
ft2/h/machine (0.093 m2/h/machine). Table 7 does not include the additional times for scaffolding, inspection,
surface preparation, set-up or tear-down of the welding equipment. In large digesters it may be possible to have
eight machines arranged around the circumference while in smaller digesters it may not be possible to install more
than six machines at one elevation.

Table 7.
Estimated Times for Application of Automatic GMAW Overlay in Continuous Digesters (days).
Area Number of Welding Machines
ft2 1 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16
500 21 10 5.2 3.5 2.6 2.1 1.7 1.5 1.3
1000 42 21 10 6.9 5.2 4.2 3.5 3.0 2.6
1500 63 32 16 10 7.8 6.3 5.2 4.4 3.9
2000 83 42 21 14 10 8.3 6.9 6.0 5.2
2500 104 52 26 18 13 10 8.7 7.4 6.5
3000 125 64 32 21 16 13 10 8.9 7.8
3500 146 74 37 25 18 15 12 10 9.1
4000 167 83 42 28 21 17 14 12 10
4500 188 93 47 32 23 19 16 13 12
5000 208 104 52 35 26 21 17 15 13

Table 8 gives some estimated times for the automatic SAW overlay using a conservative production rate of 2.5 ft2/h
per two-head machine (0.23 m2/h per two-head machine). Like Table 7, the times estimated in Table 8 do not
include the additional times for scaffolding, inspection, surface preparation, set-up or tear-down of the welding
equipment. In large digesters it may be possible to have up to eight rotating platforms in the digester at eight
different elevations.

Table 8.
Estimated Times for Application of Automatic SAW Overlay in Continuous Digesters (days).
Area Number of Two-Head Welding Machines
ft2 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
500 8.3 4.4 2.8 2.1 1.7 1.4 1.2 1.0
1000 17 8.3 5.6 4.2 3.3 2.8 2.4 2.1
1500 25 13 8.3 6.3 5.0 4.2 3.6 3.1
2000 33 17 11 8.3 6.7 5.6 4.8 4.2
2500 42 21 14 10 8.3 6.9 6.0 5.2
3000 50 25 17 13 10 8.3 7.2 6.3
3500 58 29 19 15 12 9.7 8.3 7.3
4000 67 33 22 17 13 11 9.5 8.3
4500 75 38 25 19 15 13 11 9.4
5000 83 44 28 21 17 14 12 10

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Paper presented at the TAPPI Fall Technical Conference, San Diego, CA, September 2002.

Prevention of Liquor Dripping

Dripping of "liquor" from behind screens, headers, and blank plates is inevitable in continuous digesters.
Unfortunately most weld overlay work occurs below screens, blank plates, and headers. It is important to prevent
liquor from dripping onto the digester wall during both the surface preparation and weld overlay. One of the best
methods for preventing dripping onto the wall is the installation of a drip pan around the circumference of the
digester (Figure 6). The width of the pan should be wider than the width of the screens above so that liquor running
down the face of the screens falls into the pan. For digesters where there is a substantial flow of liquor a drain hose
can be connected to the drip pan and run down the central pipe. Alternatively, the liquor collected in the drip pan
can be pumped out from time to time. For jobs where the overlay is done over a period of years, a "poison pad" may
be temporarily welded to the digester wall onto which the drip pan can be welded and removed each year until the
overlay is complete.

Welding Consumables

Type 309 stainless steel has very good corrosion resistance in continuous digester liquors. The flux-filled wire for
the SAW process is usually manufactured by the overlay contractor. For GMAW overlays, on the other hand, the
overlay contractor must purchase the wire from a supplier. The chromium content of wires can vary by over 1% by
weight depending on the heat. Wires can also contain significant amounts of nitrogen that depresses the ferrite
content and can result in the as-deposited weld overlay having ferrite below the desirable minimum of 3%. Low
ferrite content weld overlay is highly susceptible to hot cracking.

It is a prudent to calculate the predicted overlay composition and ferrite content using the DeLong or Welding
Research Council (WRC) 1992 methods. This requires obtaining the materials test certificates for all the candidate
wires and also the composition of the carbon steel base metal. In most cases the test certificates of the carbon steel
plates used for the digester no longer exist so it will be necessary to estimate the composition, for example, from
chemical analysis of a plate of the same material such as A516-Grade 70.

Tables 9 and 10 give the predicted compositions and ferrite contents in the weld deposits using the DeLong method
for a range of possible dilutions welding A516-Grade 70 carbon steel using ER309LSi wire. Table 9 represents the
extreme of a high-chromium, high-nitrogen wire. Table 10 represents the other extreme of a very low chromium
content wire with low nitrogen content. The Tables show that the lower-chromium wire is predicted to give higher
ferrite content in the overlay than the higher-chromium wire, even though chromium is understood to be an element
that promotes the formation of ferrite. Due to its strong austenite-forming tendency, nitrogen is an undesirable
element in ER309LSi welding wires used in digesters.

Table 9.
Predicted Weld Metal Compositions and Ferrite for High-Ferrite ER309LSi Wire.
A516-Gr 70 ER309LSi 12% 14% 16% 18% 20%
Element Base Metal Filler Metal Dilution Dilution Dilution Dilution Dilution
C 0.26 0.023 0.051 0.056 0.061 0.066 0.070
Mn 1.09 1.77 1.69 1.68 1.66 1.65 1.63
Si 0.23 0.76 0.70 0.69 0.68 0.67 0.65
Cr 0.04 23.08 20.3 19.9 19.4 18.9 18.5
Ni 0.03 13.57 11.9 11.7 11.4 11.1 10.9
Mo 0.01 0.15 0.13 0.13 0.13 0.13 0.12
Cu 0.08 0.19 0.18 0.18 0.17 0.17 0.17
N 0.00 0.045 0.040 0.039 0.038 0.037 0.036
Cr Equivalent (%) 24.4 21.5 21.0 20.6 20.1 19.6
Ni Equivalent (%) 16.5 15.5 15.4 15.2 15.0 14.9
Predicted Ferrite (%) 14.1 5.4 4.1 2.8 1.6 0.4

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Paper presented at the TAPPI Fall Technical Conference, San Diego, CA, September 2002.

Table 10.
Predicted Weld Metal Compositions and Ferrite for Low-Ferrite ER309LSi Wire.
A516-Gr 70 ER309LSi 12% 14% 16% 18% 20%
Element Base Metal Filler Metal Dilution Dilution Dilution Dilution Dilution
C 0.26 0.013 0.043 0.048 0.053 0.057 0.062
Mn 1.09 2.29 2.15 2.12 2.09 2.07 2.05
Si 0.23 0.94 0.86 0.84 0.82 0.81 0.80
Cr 0.04 24.40 21.5 21.0 20.5 20.0 19.5
Ni 0.03 13.82 12.2 11.9 11.61 11.3 11.1
Mo 0.01 0.10 0.09 0.09 0.09 0.08 0.08
Cu 0.08 0.10 0.10 0.10 0.10 0.10 0.10
N 0.00 0.134 0.118 0.115 0.113 0.110 0.107
Cr Equivalent (%) 26.0 22.9 22.4 21.9 21.4 20.8
Ni Equivalent (%) 19.4 18.1 17.7 17.6 17.4 17.2
Predicted Ferrite (%) 11.4 3.6 2.5 1.4 0.2 -0.9

Although higher chromium content improves the corrosion resistance of stainless steel weld overlays, it is preferable
to have a lower-chromium (18.5%-20.5%) as-deposited weld overlay having a ferrite content above 3% than it is to
have higher-chromium (19.5%-21.5%) as-deposited weld overlay having ferrite content less than 3%. Slightly
lower chromium content does not result in an appreciably higher corrosion rate for the weld overlay. On the other
hand, low ferrite content overlays invariably have plenty of hot cracking whose detection and repair can be time-
consuming.

Surface Preparation

Grit blasting is the typical surface preparation prior to weld overlaying. Although a smooth wall provides the
optimum surface for weld overlaying there are many cases where the digester wall is extensively pitted or roughed
due to corrosion (Figure 7). Some surface roughness can be accommodated by the overlay process. Surfaces with
irregularities (pits, plateaus) that are 60 mils (1.5 mm) in size can be welded using the SAW process. The GMAW
process requires a smoother surface with irregularities no greater than 40 mils (1 mm). It may be necessary to grind
very rough surfaces until they meet the above maximum roughness criteria (Figure 8). In digesters with very rough
surfaces the grinding to produce an acceptable surface could take 2 or 3 days and arc gouging may be preferable,
although there is a greater danger of removing more wall thickness than necessary. It is not necessary to grind the
wall completely smooth (this may require a prohibitively long time in some cases). Sharp transitions also need to be
ground to smooth transitions. Weld seams in the carbon steel shell may be excessively prominent, requiring
grinding of their caps. Alternatively, weld seams may be ditched due to preferential corrosion of the weld metal. In
these cases the edges of the weld may be tapered by grinding; in extreme cases the welds may have to be restored
using carbon steel weld metal buildup.

Grit blasting is best performed after all grinding operations have been completed. This provides a uniform surface
onto which the overlay can be applied. The dust that accumulates everywhere after grit blasting is undesirable as it
can interfere with the movement of the welding machines on their tracks and is also a possible health hazard. A
water wash of the digester wall will remove much of the dust. The slight rust bloom that occurs on the grit blasted
carbon steel surface does not interfere with the welding.

Wall Thickness

It is important to know that the thickness of the wall being overlaid is above the minimum required by the
construction code. Where the required design thickness data do not exist the thickness can be calculated using the
design equations. The relevant equation for circumferential rings in the ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code,
Section VIII, Division 1, is:

t = PR/ (SE – 0.6P), where

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Paper presented at the TAPPI Fall Technical Conference, San Diego, CA, September 2002.

- t is the wall thickness in inches.


- P is the pressure in psi (P is the sum of the maximum allowable working pressure and the static head).
- R is the inside radius of the digester.
- S is the stress value of the material.
- E is the joint efficiency (=1 for welds that were given 100% radiography).

The most difficulty in applying this equation is the lack of knowledge of what value of specific gravity to use in the
static head calculation. Digester extraction liquor has a specific gravity of 1.12, yet a value of 1.05 is most often
used in the static head calculation. A conservative value of the specific gravity is 1.15.

Nondestructive Testing

Ultrasonic thickness testing (UT) should be done on a fine enough grid to ascertain beyond any doubt that the entire
surface to be overlaid is above the minimum value required by the construction code, or to map out those areas that
are below-code thickness for buildup prior to overlaying. A UT measurement grid that is 2 feet by 2 feet (or 1.5 m x
1.5 m) is suitable for this purpose. If any readings are found to below the minimum acceptable thickness additional
readings should be taken in the surrounding area until the below-code area is fully mapped.

The best time to make the UT measurements is before the wall has been grit blasted. If it is not possible to do the
UT before grit blasting then a water-soluble UT couplant should be used.

If the grid is established in such a way that it can be reproduced after the overlay is completed, then the overlay
thickness can be obtained by subtracting the "before" UT readings from the "after" UT readings. This method for
estimating the overlay thickness gives a slightly thinner than actual value for the overlay thickness as it does not
include the penetration of the overlay into the base metal. Nonetheless, if the overlay thickness measured in this
manner exceeds the minimum contracted thickness value then there is no need for concern. The penetration depth of
an overlay into the carbon steel substrate does not have to be subtracted from the thickness of the carbon steel wall
for the purpose of calculating the thickness of the pressure boundary [18].

All weld seams can be ground smooth for crack inspection using magnetic particle testing. Grinding is a
prerequisite for crack inspection of digester welds. This is the last opportunity to ensure that the welds are sound
since they will be covered with weld overlay. It is unusual to find SCC in digester weld seams below the cooking
screens. However, it is not uncommon to find original weld defects such as LOF, cold cracking, porosity, and slag
inclusions. These defects can be repaired before the weld seams are covered by the overlay.

The locations of the tees between the circumferential and vertical weld seams can be marked using stainless steel
weld beads of applied on top of the overlay after the overlay has been completed.

Buildup of the Digester Wall

Any below-code thickness areas found by UT prior to weld overlaying requires repair prior to overlaying. For small
areas, for example, totaling less than 10 square feet (0.9 square meters) manual buildup using E7018 carbon steel
electrodes may be suitable. There is no need to select a low silicon content version of E7018 (low silicon steels
have greater corrosion resistance than do high silicon steels in digester liquors) if the buildup is to be subsequently
covered by the overlay before the digester is returned to service. If larger surface areas require buildup it may be
more expedient to apply the buildup using the same automated equipment that would be used for the stainless steel
weld overlay (Figure 9). The production rate for automatic buildup is approximately twice that for manual buildup.

After any carbon steel weld buildup is completed it should be magnetic particle tested for cracking. The edges of
patches of carbon steel weld buildup can be taper ground so there is a smooth transition when the welding head
passes from the base metal to the built up metal. UT of the built up area can confirm that the wall has been restored
to an above-code thickness.

In cases where the digester wall is only slightly less than the code minimum thickness it may be possible to qualify
the overlay weld procedure as a buildup [18]. This means that weld samples will have to pass a bend test. Passing a
bend test is not a problem for a ductile material such as Type 309 stainless steel but could be difficult for a hard

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Paper presented at the TAPPI Fall Technical Conference, San Diego, CA, September 2002.

weld material such as Type 312 stainless steel. The author does not recommend using stainless steel for restorations
of wall thickness that require more than one layer of buildup.

Preheating

Preheating of a carbon steel digester wall is necessary for the prevention of hydrogen cracking in the carbon steel.
Theoretically, the preheat temperature needs only to be above the boiling point of water to prevent the possibility of
liquid water being present on the surface being welded. In reality, however, it is wise to have a margin of safety,
especially in those cases where the preheating is provided intermittently using torches. The author recommends a
preheat temperature of 300°F (149°C) for both carbon steel weld buildup and stainless steel weld overlay on carbon
steel substrates. A slightly higher preheat temperature of 350°F (177°C) may be desirable at the start of an overlay
job. There is no need to use higher preheat temperatures. There is no appreciable stress relieving effect of
preheating, even at higher temperatures. Higher preheat temperatures can make can make the environment in the
digester resemble that in an oven, and most uncomfortable for the welders.

Preheat for digester weld overlay has been accomplished using both electric resistance heating pads and also using
torch heating. The author unequivocally recommends electric resistance preheating as this form of preheat is the
most uniform and controllable. Overlay jobs done using external electric resistance preheat invariably have fewer
problems and are of higher quality than those done with torch heating on the inside. Electric resistance preheating
requires removing the insulation from the outside of the digester (Figure 10). The entire area to be overlaid need not
all be preheated (refer to the oven effect described in the previous paragraph); rather, preheating can be done in 4-
foot (1.2 m) high circumferential bands that are moved upward as the overlay in the vessel progresses upward.
Another advantage to removing the insulation is that the UT measurements both before and after can be done from
outside the vessel without interfering with the critical path timeline for the work inside the digester. With electric
resistance preheating one must be very careful about "runaway" heating due to failure of the controlling
thermocouples. While temporary overheating of a spot in the carbon steel shell may not be particularly detrimental,
overheating of stainless steel weld overlay could cause sensitization and impair the corrosion resistance of the
overlay.

The other preheating method is "rosebud" torch heating. While a preheat temperature can be achieved using torches
the temperature is never uniform and drops off as soon as the torches are turned off. This is why a margin of safety
is required for the preheat temperature. It may take a dozen torches operating for 1-2 hours to effectively reach the
preheat temperature at one elevation in a continuous digester. Torch preheating has to be maintained during the
startup of the machines. Once several welding machines are operating they may provide their own preheat although
it is the author's experience that preheat temperatures from the welding process are seldom above 250°F (121°C). If
there is any downtime during an overlay job (track jumps, lunch breaks, and stoppages due to machine breakdowns)
torch preheating will have to be repeated before the overlay can commence.

Preheat temperature monitoring can be accomplished using crayons that melt at a range of different temperatures,
contact thermocouples, or infrared devices. While infrared devices may not be strictly accurate they are suitable for
the purposes of preheat monitoring where the objective is to confirm that the temperature is in the vicinity of 300°F
(149°C).

Preheating is also required for overlay repairs that required grinding down to the carbon steel substrate. For weld
repairs made on top of a stainless steel weld overlay it is only necessary that the weld area be warm and dry.

QUALITY ASSURANCE DURING WELD OVERLAY

Quality Assurance (QA) during an overlay application is an essential part of any weld overlay job. QA involves
numerous tasks, including review of the welding procedure specifications, procedure qualification records, and the
welder qualifications. QA also involves documenting the condition of the surface and the nondestructive test
results, monitoring of preheat, visual inspection of the overlay during application, monitoring of welding parameters
such as travel speed, bead spacing, bead width, and production rates for each machine. QA includes monitoring of
ferrite content and as-deposited weld chemistry, selection of the sites for boat sampling, and reporting on the results
of metallurgical examination of boat samples.

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Paper presented at the TAPPI Fall Technical Conference, San Diego, CA, September 2002.

Alloy Analysis

Portable x-ray fluorescence alloy analyzers are available that can be used to measure the composition of the weld
overlay on the wall (Figure 11). These instruments are not capable of analyzing for elements present in small
amounts such as carbon, sulfur, and phosphorus but they are very good at measuring metallic elements such as
chromium, nickel, manganese, and molybdenum. The accuracy of the measurements for chromium and nickel may
be no better than ± 1% by weight but this is sufficient to ascertain that overlay of adequate composition is deposited
on the wall.

Alloy analysis is best done on spots on the overlay that have been lightly ground to bright metal. Measurements on
the as-overlaid surface will tend to be incorrect due to interference from surface films. All welding must be shut
down during alloy analysis measurements as the electromagnetic fields generated by welding machines may damage
the analyzer. It is sometimes convenient to make daily alloy analysis measurements during lunch breaks when the
welding machines are shut down, or during "jumps" when the equipment is being moved to a higher elevation. With
some analyzers care must be taken to minimize acoustic noise as this can interfere with the accuracy of the
instrument and is often manifested by unrealistically elevated readings for manganese and vanadium.

Table 11 gives some typical ranges for the elements chromium and nickel measured using portable alloy analyzers.

Table 11.
Alloy Analysis Results for As-deposited Stainless Steel Weld Overlays.
Alloy Process Mode Cr range, % Ni Range, %
E309L SAW Horizontal 19-24 9-11
ER309LSi GMAW Horizontal 18-22 11-12
ER309LSi GMAW Vertical 15-21 11-12
ER312 GMAW Horizontal 24-29 7-8
ER312 GMAW Vertical* 20-26 6-7
* Tandem arc.

Alloy analyzers have also been useful in detecting materials mix-ups on those rare occasions when wire spools have
been mislabeled.

Ferrite Testing

Ferrite testing of as-deposited ER309LSi weld overlays is very important. If the ER309LSi weld overlay deposits
are fully austenitic they are highly susceptible to hot cracking. Overlays having less than 3% ferrite content are also
liable to have hot cracking. As discussed earlier in this paper the ferrite content of the weld overlay deposit can be
an unavoidable consequence of the chemistries of both the welding wire and the base metal. Efforts can be made to
use a welding wire that will deposit having the highest possible ferrite content for the particular base metal. Using a
wire that is predicted to give ferrite content above 3% may still not solve low ferrite problems. Small deviations in
bead spacing may cause the dilution in some beads to be higher than in other beads (higher dilutions tend to give
lower ferrite content for ER309LSi GMAW overlays). Problems with the shielding gas (blocked hose, air flow on
the wall due to excessive ventilation or use of grinders in close proximity) can result in nitrogen from the air gaining
access to the weld pool and depressing the ferrite content.

Ferrite gauges such as the Fischer Feritscope® are very useful QA monitoring devices (Figure 12). Ferrite
inspections during the overlay application can identify locations of low ferrite content such that these locations can
be flagged for particularly close inspection after the overlay is complete. Ideally the ferrite content of every weld
bead should be measured but this is impractical. Sampling of every three vertical beads or ten horizontal beads can
give a good idea as to the variation in ferrite content in the overlay deposited by a given machine. Figure 13 shows
the ferrite measurements for several vertical weld beads.

Table 12 gives some typical ranges for the ferrite contents of stainless steel weld overlays measured using ferrite
gauges.

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Paper presented at the TAPPI Fall Technical Conference, San Diego, CA, September 2002.

Table 12.
Ferrite Content Results for As-deposited Stainless Steel Weld Overlays.
Alloy Process Mode Minimum Ferrite, % Maximum Ferrite, %
E309L SAW Horizontal 20 34
ER309LSi GMAW Horizontal 0 9
ER309LSi GMAW Vertical 0 9
ER312 GMAW Horizontal 39 61
ER312 GMAW Vertical* 8 31
* Tandem arc.

For a given heat of wire the ferrite content of the weld overlay improves with increasing chromium content in the as-
deposited weld overlay. This can be seen in the following graph that plots ferrite contents versus the as-deposited
chromium content measured using an alloy analyzer:

6
Ferrite content as a function of as-deposited
chromium content in ER309LSi weld overlay.
5
Ferrite in Weld, %

0
19 19.5 20 20.5 21 21.5 22 22.5 23
Chromium in Weld, %

It is useful to measure the ferrite contents of repair welds ("pick-up welds") made using another welding process as
there have been problems with cracking of repair welds that deposit with a low ferrite content or were inadvertently
made using an incorrect filler metal.

Bead Spacing, Width, and Overlap

Bead spacing (beads per inch) for horizontal weld overlays can be monitored during the overlay job by digitally
photographing a ruler placed vertically over the overlay (Figure 14). Bead width and overlay for vertical weld
overlays can likewise be monitored by digitally photographing a ruler placed horizontally over the overlay (Figure
15). The bead spacing or widths can be determined shortly thereafter in the relative comfort of an office, saving
damage to the eyes that could result from trying to count beads or record measurements made using the ruler in
close proximity to the welding arc.

Desirably, a horizontal weld overlay should have a uniform bead spacing that conforms to the value targeted by the
overlay contractor, and a vertical overlay should have both uniform bead width and overlap. In actual overlay
applications there can be deviations from uniformity that in some cases can require re-overlaying parts of the wall.

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Paper presented at the TAPPI Fall Technical Conference, San Diego, CA, September 2002.

Production Rate

Some production rates for various kinds of overlay were given in Table 1. A useful measurement of the production
rate of overlay is the amount of area applied per unit time per welding machine. While instantaneous production
rates are interesting it is more useful to determine a running average of the production rates for each welding
machine. This allows a prediction as to when the automatic weld overlay will be completed and in turn allows better
scheduling of resources including scaffolders and nondestructive testers.

The cumulative production rate should include all downtime during the automatic weld overlay process (lunch
breaks, machine breakdowns, scaffold "jumps"). The production rate for the completed job is determined for the
time from the initial startup of the first automatic welding machine to the final shutdown of the last automatic
welding machines. It does not include tasks such as surface preparation and testing prior to automatic weld overlay
or repairs and testing after automatic weld overlay.

Tie-ins and Repairs

There are two possible types of tie-ins between areas of weld overlay. Horizontal tie-ins will exist when an overlay
progressing up the digester wall meets an overlay already applied at a higher elevation. Taper grinding of the
bottom edge of the upper overlay band can make it possible for the overlay being applied from below to slightly
overlap onto the upper overlay. Alternatively, a small gap can be left that is filled manually. Vertical tie-ins exist
between areas of GMAW overlay that are applied side-by-side. Vertical tie-ins are not a problem with vertically-
applied GMAW overlays. Vertical tie-ins do not exist for SAW overlays since the welding heads travel 360° around
the digester. The overlay at the side of an area of horizontally-applied GMAW overlay is prone to cracking since
there was insufficient time for the weld to cool below the interpass temperature when the welding direction was
reversed. The preferred treatment at vertical tie-ins in GMAW overlays is to remove the vertical edges of both
adjacent overlays using arc gouging and then to fill the gap manually (Figure 16). Taper grinding of one vertical
edge and overlapping by the adjacent overlay overlap onto the taper is a less desirable treatment since it produces
cracks and LOF in the bottom layer (Figure 17).

Overlay Thickness Testing

The use of magnetic lift-off (MLO) instruments to measure the overlay thickness is not recommended unless the
overlay is known to be fully austenitic (such as Alloys 82 or 625). Even a small amount of ferrite can cause MLO
instrument readings to be lower than they actually are. The following graph plots the ratio of the MLO to actual
thickness readings as determined by UT versus the ferrite content of an ER309LSi weld overlay.

1.4
Ratio of MLO Reading to UT Reading

1.2

0.8

0.6

0.4

0.2
y = 0.5592x -0.3635

0
0 1 2 3 4 5 6
Ferrite, %

Even when the ferrite content is very low (< 1%) the MLO readings on ER309LSi stainless steels weld overlay are
highly inaccurate.

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Paper presented at the TAPPI Fall Technical Conference, San Diego, CA, September 2002.

As mentioned previously the thickness of the weld overlay can be conservatively estimated by comparing UT
measurements of the digester wall made at the same locations both before and after the overlay was completed.
Even if the same spots cannot be tested, a comparison of the mean thicknesses before and after overlay will give an
average thickness for the overlay. Light grinding of spots is useful when the final UT measurements are done on the
overlay surface.

Final Penetrant Testing

The most important part of a weld overlay job is the final penetrant testing (PT). The entire overlaid surface can be
power wire brushed or lightly grit blasted prior to PT to make it easier to interpret the results. Water washable PT is
preferred over fluorescent PT as the latter requires that the digester be dark (an unsafe condition) and defects can
only be detected using a black light. Indications detected using water washable color-contrast PT remain visible and
become increasingly visible as the red dye continues to bleed out.

For large surface areas of weld overlay the PT can be a daunting task but it can be accomplished in a matter of hours
by scaling up the equipment. Instead of using spray cans the penetrant can be applied using paint rollers. Instead of
using garden sprayers to wash the wall a hose can be used (with a gentle flow). Instead of using spray cans the
developer can be applied using the garden sprayer filled with developer solution.

The defects most commonly detected using PT are pores. Most of the pores will have been detected and repaired by
the welders during application of the automatic weld overlay (the automatic GMAW head can be detached and used
in a semi-automatic fashion to do repairs) but there are always some pores that are missed. Pores in weld overlay in
continuous digesters are not the serious problem that they are in batch digesters. In batch digesters any pores that go
through to the carbon steel substrate can result in the creation of large cavities beneath the overlay as the liquor
inside the pores is refreshed during every cook. In continuous digesters the liquor in pores is not refreshed and the
author has not observed any cavity formation at those pores that were inadvertently left unrepaired.

The most critical defect that is detected using PT is cracking. PT will detect hot cracking of low-ferrite ER309LSi
weld overlay that intersects the surface (Figures 18 and 19). PT will not detect internal hot cracks. Internal cracks
pose a serious threat in batch digesters where the overlay corrodes at an appreciable rate since, once exposed, the hot
cracks "fast-track" the liquor through to the carbon steel substrate where cavities can form. In continuous digesters,
however, the overlay does not corrode appreciably and internal cracks will remain internal. There is no driving
force for the propagation of internal hot cracks into the underlying carbon steel. Nonetheless, hot cracks are
undesirable and every effort should be made to prevent them or to eliminate them.

Boat Samples

A "boat sample" is a sample of the weld overlay that is removed from the digester for examination in a metallurgical
laboratory. It is called a "boat" sample since the grinding to remove it often produces a boat-shaped piece of metal.
It is necessary that the cut be deep enough to include some of the underlying carbon steel substrate (preferably both
the heat affected zone and the unaffected base metal). The excavation produced by removing the sample can be
filled in using stainless steel weld filler metal. The excavation requires preheating since the carbon steel substrate is
exposed.

Boat samples should be selected from locations where problems are suspected, such as locations where the ferrite
measurements or the alloy analysis measurements were low. The number of boat samples per unit area of weld
overlay is specified in the TAPPI TIP [18] although whether fewer or more samples need to be taken is a function of
how well or poorly the job has progressed.

Figure 20 shows a boat sample being cut out of a weld overlay. Figure 21 is a typical view of a cross section of a
boat sample that has been etched to show the microstructure of the weld beads. The ferrite contents of each weld
bead (measured using a ferrite gauge) are also included in Figure 21. Boat samples can also be examined
metallographically for the presence of internal defects such as cracks, porosity, slag inclusions, and for the presence
of LOF at the fusion boundary. The hardness of the overlay, the carbon steel heat affected zone, and the base metal
can be measured by microhardness testing. Typical overlay hardness values have previously been published [37].

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Paper presented at the TAPPI Fall Technical Conference, San Diego, CA, September 2002.

Figure 22 shows a hot crack and Figure 22 shows copper liquid metal embrittlement cracking [38] in a location
where the copper tip for the welding head accidentally contacted the wall when the wire ran out.

Boat samples can be used to verify the chemical composition of the overlay using either emission spectroscopy or
using quantitative x-ray spectroscopy in a scanning electron microscope. Emission spectroscopy gives the
concentrations of all the elements present including carbon, sulfur, phosphorus, and nitrogen. The latter method
requires a set of relevant calibration standards and gives only the concentrations of these heavy elements. Table 13
gives some typical compositions of as-deposited Type 309i weld overlays as measured by emission spectrographic
analysis. Also given in the range of ferrite contents measured for the individual beads in the boat samples.

Table 13.
Compositions of Boat Samples of As-Deposited Stainless Steel Weld Overlays (%).
Material Process Mode Cr Ni C Mn P S Si N Ferrite*
ER312 GMAW Horiz. 29.0 8.0 0.13 1.5 0.02 0.01 0.40 - 39-58
E312 SAW Horiz. 28.3 9.8 0.08 1.0 0.02 0.01 0.42 -
ER312 GMAW Horiz. 25.5 7.3 0.15 1.8 0.03 0.02 0.45 - 42-61
E309L1 SAW Horiz. 24.0 11.0 0.06 0.8 0.02 0.01 0.35 - 20-34
ER312 GMAW Vert.2 22.6 6.6 0.19 1.7 0.02 0.01 0.40 - 10-20
ER309LSi GMAW Horiz. 22.4 12.6 0.04 1.8 0.02 0.01 0.90 - 5-10
ER309LSi GMAW Horiz. 22.3 12.2 0.03 2.2 0.02 0.01 0.90 - 2-7
ER309LSi GMAW Horiz. 22.1 12.4 0.03 1.8 0.02 0.01 0.90 0.08 0.4-5
ER309LSi GMAW Horiz. 21.6 11.9 0.04 2.2 0.03 0.01 0.90 - 0.2-5
ER309LSi GMAW Horiz. 21.5 11.9 0.04 1.8 0.02 0.01 0.90 0.08 0.4-5
ER309LSi GMAW Vert. 21.1 11.6 0.04 1.9 0.02 0.02 0.76 - 5-9
ER309LSi GMAW Horiz. 20.6 11.5 0.04 2.2 0.02 0.03 0.80 - 3-9
ER309LSi GMAW Horiz. 20.5 11.5 0.06 1.8 0.02 0.01 0.90 0.07 0.3-2
ER309LSi GMAW Horiz. 20.4 11.5 0.06 1.7 0.02 0.01 0.90 0.08 0.3-3
ER309LSi GMAW Horiz. 20.2 11.1 0.06 1.8 0.02 0.01 0.90 - 0.2-7
ER309LSi GMAW Horiz. 20.1 11.5 0.05 1.8 0.02 0.01 0.90 - 0.2-8
ER309LSi GMAW Vert. 16.2 8.9 0.06 1.5 0.02 0.01 0.75 - 0.8-2
(1) This SAW wire and flux were formulated to yield a higher as-deposited chromium content than typical for E309L SAW.
(2) Tandem arc vertical-down overlay with 2-inch (50 mm) wide beads.

Now that the importance of nitrogen in the weld filler metal is understood, the author recommends that the nitrogen
content of the overlay in the samples be included in the chemical analysis.

It is difficult to predict the ferrite content from the average compositions measured. Low ferrite content beads occur
frequently in ER309LSi stainless steel weld overlays where there is a possibility of low ferrite within the range of
possible dilutions.

CASE HISTORIES

Following are nine case histories of recent projects where stainless steel weld overlay was applied to protect
continuous digesters from corrosion thinning. Some of these projects have taken place over a number of years and
others were accomplished within normal or extended shutdowns during a single year. The advantage to doing the
entire required overlay at one time is the savings in the expense for repetitive mobilization of the welders and
equipment. The pertinent details (total area overlaid, welding process and mode, and the number of welding
machines) of these case histories are summarized in Table 14.

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Paper presented at the TAPPI Fall Technical Conference, San Diego, CA, September 2002.

Table 14.
Case Histories of Continuous Digester Weld Overlay Projects.
Area Overlaid Number of
Location Year(s) ft2 m2 Alloy Process Mode Machines
A United States 1998-2002 2598 241 ER309LSi GMAW Vertical 8
B Canada 2001 1182 110 ER309LSi GMAW Horizontal 6
C United States 2001 1330 125 ER309LSi GMAW Horizontal 9
D South America 1996, 99, 20001 5589 510 ER309LSi GMAW Vert. & Horiz. 9V & 5H2
E Canada 1999, 20001 2475 230 ER309LSi GMAW Horizontal 16
F South America 1999 1177 109 ER309LSi GMAW Horizontal 9
G Canada 1999 2200 204 ER309LSi GMAW Horizontal 12
H New Zealand 19971 1528 142 ER312 GMAW Vertical (9 x 2)3
I South America 1997 4004 372 ER309LSi GMAW Horizontal 19
(1) Additional weld overlay will be (or has been) applied at a later date.
(2) Nine machines in the vertical mode and five machines in the horizontal mode.
(3) Nine tandem arc machines having 18 welding torches.

Case History A

The overlay was applied in the wash zone a continuous digester that was part of a 2-vessel system built in 1984
using A516-Grade 70 carbon steel. The digester has operated conventionally for most of its life but had converted
to low solids cooking at the time the overlay was commenced. Since the digester wall in the wash zone was
thinning steadily at a rate of 10 mpy (0.25 mm/y) it was decided to overlay the wall in increments of approximately
half the ring height. The overlay was applied by the mechanical contractor who was on site during each annual
shutdown. Eight vertical-down welding machines were arranged around the digester circumference. There were
problems with cracking of low ferrite content weld overlay (Figure 19) applied using ER309LSi wire having very
high nitrogen content. A thermal spray coating applied in one of the rings had to be removed by grit blasting prior
to overlaying.

Case History B

The overlay was applied in the wash zone of a single-vessel digester that was built in 1964 using A285-Grade C
carbon steel. The digester had converted to low solids cooking that resulted in significantly higher temperatures in
the wash zone. Rapid corrosion thinning was anticipated and subsequently found so it was planned to overlay the
zone between the bottom head and the extraction screens. The wash screens had been removed from this digester
many years ago. Prior to overlaying, some of the wall had to be built up using carbon steel (Figure 9). Six welding
machines were used at two different elevations. There were problems with hot cracking of low ferrite content
overlay (Figure 18).

Case History C

The overlay was applied in the wash zone of a single-vessel digester that was built in 1964 using A212-Grade B
carbon steel (the precursor to A516-Grade 70 carbon steel). The digester had operated conventionally up to 1997
when it was converted to low solids operation. Rapid corrosion thinning followed this conversion, necessitating
protection of the digester wall from the bottom head to the top of the extraction screens. The wash screens had been
removed from this digester many years ago. The extraction screens and backing bars were removed so that the
overlay could be applied behind the screens. Nine welding machines were used at three different elevations. There
were problems with hot cracking of low ferrite content weld overlay.

Case History D

The overlay was applied in three separate years in a continuous digester that was part of a 2-vessel system that was
built in 1991 using A516-Grade 70 carbon steel. The digester started with modified continuous cooking (MCC)
operation and was changed to extended modified continuous cooking (EMCC) in 1993. The corrosion allowance in
the digester was only 0.157 inch (4 mm). Rapid corrosion thinning at rates of 20 mpy (0.5 mm/y) was experienced

16
Paper presented at the TAPPI Fall Technical Conference, San Diego, CA, September 2002.

between the wash and cooking screens and between the cooking and extraction screens. Overlay was also applied in
screen headers where erosion corrosion was found (Figure 23). Both vertical-down (four "double down" machines)
and horizontal (five machines) overlays were applied. The horizontal overlays had far fewer defects that required
repair.

Case History E

The overlay was applied during two separate years in a continuous digester that was part of a 2-vessel system that
was built in 1992 using A516-Grade 70 carbon steel. The digester had operated under a number of regimens
including low solids cooking. Rapid corrosion thinning was noted in 1998 necessitating application of weld overlay
in both the area between the wash and cooking screens and the cooking and extraction screens. The wall of this
digester was very rough necessitating considerable grinding as surface preparation. Sixteen welding machines were
used at two different elevations.

Case History F

The overlay was applied in an impregnation vessel that was part of a two-vessel system built in 1980 using A516-
Grade 70 carbon steel. The vessel was not originally stress relieved and experienced stress corrosion cracking. A
thermal spray coating was applied for crack protection but had mostly failed at the time the decision was made to
apply weld overlay. The remaining thermal spray was removed with difficulty. Ten welding machines were used at
four different elevations. Time delays in removing the thermal spray coating meant that it was not possible to
completely overlay the vessel. An anodic protection system was installed during the next shutdown.

Case History G

The overlay was applied in a continuous digester that was part of a 2-vessel system that was built in 1986 using
A516-Grade 70 carbon steel. It has operated with MCC, EMCC, and low solids cooking. The digester experienced
rapid corrosion thinning that produced a surface containing sharp pits (Figure 7) that had to be ameliorated by
grinding (Figure 8) prior to overlaying. The overlay was applied between the wash and cooking screens with every
welding machine operating at the same travel speed. There were a total of twelve welding machines operating at
three different elevations.

Case History H

The overlay was applied in the wash zone of a continuous digester that was part of a 2-vessel system that was built
in 1989 using A516-Grade 70 carbon steel. The digester has changed operation to isothermal cooking (ITC). It was
predicted that ITC would result in higher temperatures in the wash zone that in turn would cause rapid corrosion
thinning. It was planned to overlay the digester the following year, which was fortunate as rapid corrosion thinning
had indeed occurred. The overlay was applied in the vertical down mode using tandem arc machines that deposit 2-
inch (50 mm) wide weld beads (Figure 6). The high dilution of this particular process necessitated using ER312
wire to obtain the desired as-deposited weld metal composition of greater than 20% chromium content. Nine
tandem-arc machines (18 heads in total) were operated at two different elevations.

Case History I

The overlay was applied in a continuous digester that was part of a 2-vessel system that was built in 1991 using
A516-Grade 70 carbon steel. The corrosion allowance was only 0.125 inch (3 mm). It operated with MCC cooking
and experienced rapid corrosion thinning necessitating application of stainless steel weld overlay using nineteen
welding machines. Later, continued corrosion of the non-overlaid portions of the digester wall and severe
"fingernailing" of the carbon steel adjacent to the top edges of the overlay necessitated the installation of an anodic
protection system to protect the carbon steel from further corrosion.

CONCLUSIONS

1. Type 309 stainless steel is the preferred alloy for weld overlay of continuous digesters.
2. Both SAW and GMAW are suitable welding processes.

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Paper presented at the TAPPI Fall Technical Conference, San Diego, CA, September 2002.

3. Vertical-down GMAW is a practical alternative for overlay in continuous digesters.


4. The slower production rate with GMAW overlay as compared with SAW overlay can be overcome by using
more GMAW machines.
5. ER309LSi GMAW overlays are susceptible to hot cracking if they deposit with low ferrite content.
6. GMAW wires having N content greater than 0.1% are best avoided.

REFERENCES

1. Crooks, K.L. and Linnert, G.E., Stainless Steel Weld Metal Overlay Linings for Pulp Digester Vessels, TAPPI
J., Vol. 44 No. 8, pp. 544-554 (1961).
2. Carns, C.L., Corrosion Resistance of Stainless Steel Overlays in Kraft Digesters, Corrosion J., Vol. 17 No. 6,
pp, 20-24 (1961).
3. Blanchard, Z.S., Digester Overlay Welding, Proceedings of the CPPA Technical Section Meeting, pp. D118-
D119 (1962).
4. Bobo, P.C. and Blanchard, Z.S., Report of Stainless Steel Overlay Welding Experience in Pulp Mill Digesters,
TAPPI J., Vol. 45 No. 2, pp. 132A-137A (1962).
5. Rienhoff, H.Y., Overlay testing at Time of Application, TAPPI J., Vol. 45 No. 2, pp. 137A-1407A (1962).
6. LeGrand, P.E. and Witherell, C.E., Crack-Resistant Weld Overlays for Reclaiming Pulp Digesters, TAPPI J.,
Vol. 45 No. 12, pp. 900-905 (1962).
7. Frombach, M.F., Experience with Corrosion in Alkaline Digesters and Their Protection with Stainless-Steel
Overlay, Pulp and Paper Magazine of Canada, Vol. 64 No. 3, pp. T175-T184 (1963).
8. Campbell, H.C., Identifying Corrosion and Welding Failures in Stainless Steels, Materials Protection, Vol. 2
No. 10, pp. 39-44 (1963).
9. Canavan, H.M. and Blanchard, Z.S., Continuous Digester Evaluation and Welding Overlay Experience,
Proceedings of the TAPPI Engineering Conference (1968).
10. Canavan, H.M. and Blanchard, Z.S., Continuous Digester Evaluation and Welding Overlay Experience,
Proceedings of the TAPPI Engineering Conference (1969).
11. Canavan, H.M. and Blanchard, Z.S., Continuous Digester Evaluation and Welding Overlay Experience, TAPPI
J., Vol. 54 No. 4, pp. 574-578 (1971)
12. Canavan, H.M. and Blanchard, Z.S., Continuous Digester Evaluation and Welding Overlay Experience, TAPPI
J., Vol. 55 No. 4, pp. 511-514 (1972).
13. Canavan, H.M. and Blanchard, Z.S., Continuous Digester Evaluation and Welding Overlay Experience, TAPPI
J., Vol. 57 No. 3, pp. 99-102 (1974).
14. Jacobs, R.H. and Rienhoff, H.Y., Continuous Digester Evaluation and Welding Overlay Experience, TAPPI J.,
Vol. 60 No. 3, pp. 58-61 (1977).
15. Kammer, P.A. and Reid, H.F., Welded Overlays for Sulfate Digesters, Proceedings of the First International
Symposium on Corrosion in the Pulp and Paper Industry, NACE, Houston, TX, pp. 144-149 (1974).
16. Pollak, P. and Forsberg, S., Weld Overlay Surfacing of Process Equipment for Corrosive Applications,
Proceedings of the 65th Annual Meeting of CPPA, pp. B61-B65 (1979).
17. Corrosion Committee Assignment No. 4039 – Interim Report: Recommendations for Installation of Weld
Metal Overlay Linings of Stainless Steel in Sulfate and Soda Digester Vessels, TAPPI J., Vol. 43 No. 2, pp.
140A-144A (1962).
18. TAPPI TIP 0402-03, Guidelines for Corrosion Resistant Weld Overlay in Sulfate and Soda Digester Vessels,
TAPPI, Atlanta, GA (1998).
19. Yeske, R.A., Stress Corrosion Cracking of Continuous Digesters for Kraft Pulping – Final Report to the
Digester Cracking Research Committee, IPC Project 3544 (1983).
20. Guzi, C.E., A Continuous Digester Cracking Investigation, Proceedings of the 1982 TAPPI Engineering
Conference, pp. 565-575 (1982).
21. Wensley, D.A., Corrosion Control in a Kraft Continuous Digester, Proceedings of the Sixth International
Symposium on Corrosion in the Pulp and Paper Industry, Finnish Pulp and Paper Research Institute, Helsinki,
pp. 7-19 (1989).
22. Moskal, M.D., Residual Stresses in Digester Weld Overlays, Proceedings of the Fifth International Symposium
on Corrosion in the Pulp and Paper Industry, CPPA, Montreal, QC, pp. 57-61 (1986).
23. Eriksson, T., Borjesson, E., and Johansson, L., Experience from Welded Lining in Digesters, Proceedings of
the Eighth International Symposium on Corrosion in the Pulp and Paper Industry, Swedish Corrosion Institute,
Stockholm, pp. 58-64 (1995).

18
Paper presented at the TAPPI Fall Technical Conference, San Diego, CA, September 2002.

24. Workman, R., Advances in Weld Overlay Technology Provide Corrosion Protection in Kraft Digesters,
Proceedings of the 1995 TAPPI Engineering Conference, pp. 173-178 (1995).
25. Hulsizer, P., Expedited Weld Overlay of Continuous Digesters, Proceedings of the 1995 TAPPI Engineering
Conference, pp. 193-202 (1995).
26. Lai, G. and Hulsizer, P., Application of Type 312 Stainless Steel Overlay for Corrosion Protection of Batch
Digesters, Proceedings of the 1999 TAPPI Engineering Conference, pp. 399-404 (1999).
27. Wensley, A., Corrosion Protection of Kraft Digesters, Paper 01423, Corrosion 2001, NACE, Houston, TX,
2001.
28. ANSI/AWS A5.9-93, Specification for Bare Stainless Steel Welding Electrodes and Rods, AWS, Miami, FL.
29. DeLong, W.T., Ferrite in Austenitic Stainless Steel Weld Metal, Welding J., Vol. 53 No. 7, pp. 273S-286S
(1974).
30. Kotecki, D.J. and Siewert, T.A., WRC-1992 Constitution Diagram for Stainless Steel Weld Metals, Welding
J., Vo. 71 No. 5, pp. 171S-178S (1992).
31. Welding of Stainless Steels and Other Joining Methods, AISI Publication SS803-479-25M-GP, American Iron
and Steel Institute, Washington, DC (1979).
32. Wensley. A., Corrosion in Digester Liquors, Proceedings of the Eighth International Symposium on Corrosion
in the Pulp and Paper Industry, Swedish Corrosion Institute, Stockholm, pp. 26-37 (1995).
33. Wensley, A., Corrosion Testing in Digester Liquors, Proceedings of the 1996 TAPPI Engineering Conference,
TAPPI, Atlanta, GA, 1996, pp. 291-298.
34. Wensley, A., Moskal, M., and Wilton, W., Materials Selection for Kraft Batch Digesters, Paper 378, Corrosion
97, NACE, Houston, TX, 1997.
35. Wensley, A. and Dykstra, H., Corrosion of Batch Digesters, Proceedings of the 1997 TAPPI Engineering
Conference, TAPPI, Atlanta, GA, 1997, pp. 1527-1536
36. Wensley, A., Corrosion of Batch and Continuous Digesters, Proceedings of the Ninth International
Symposium on Corrosion in the Pulp and Paper Industry, Ottawa, 1998, pp. 27-37.
37. Wensley, A., Corrosion of Weld Overlay in Batch Digesters, Proceedings of the 1998 TAPPI Engineering
Conference, pp. 1193-1200 (1998).
38. Holbert, R.K., Dobbins, A.G., and Bennett, R.K., Copper Contamination Cracking in Thin Stainless Steel
Sheet, Welding J., Vol. 66 No. 8, pp. 38-44 (1987).

19
Paper presented at the TAPPI Fall Technical Conference, San Diego, CA, September 2002.

Figure 1. Submerged arc welding using two wires.

Figure 2. Gas metal arc welding in the horizontal mode.

20
Paper presented at the TAPPI Fall Technical Conference, San Diego, CA, September 2002.

Figure 3. Gas metal arc welding in the vertical-down mode.

Figure 4. Gas metal arc welding in the vertical down mode with two heads.

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Paper presented at the TAPPI Fall Technical Conference, San Diego, CA, September 2002.

Figure 5. Gas metal arc welding in the vertical deon mode with tandem arcs.

Drip Pan

Figure 6. Drip pan installed to prevent liquor dripping on the area to be weld overlaid.

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Paper presented at the TAPPI Fall Technical Conference, San Diego, CA, September 2002.

Figure 7. Digester wall that is unacceptably rough for weld overlaying.

Figure 8. Digester wall that hads been ground to an acceptable roughness for weld overlaying.

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Paper presented at the TAPPI Fall Technical Conference, San Diego, CA, September 2002.

Figure 9. Automatic carbon steel weld buildup of a location where the wall thickness was below
ASME Code minimum.

Figure 10. Electric resistance preheating pads installed around the outside of a continuous digester.

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Paper presented at the TAPPI Fall Technical Conference, San Diego, CA, September 2002.

Figure 11. A portable x-ray fluorescence analyzer measuring the as-deposited composition of a
digester weld overlay.

Figure 12. Instrument used for measuring the ferrite content of as-deposited weld overlays.

25
Paper presented at the TAPPI Fall Technical Conference, San Diego, CA, September 2002.

Figure 13. The ferrite contents of weld beads deposited by the vertical-down GMAW process.

Figure 14. Measurement of horizontal weld overlay bead spacing.

26
Paper presented at the TAPPI Fall Technical Conference, San Diego, CA, September 2002.

Figure 15. Measurement of vertical overlay bead width and overlap.

Figure 16. Vertical tie-in in horizontally-applied GMAW overlay where the edges were removed by
arc gouging and the gap filled using semi-automatic GMAW.

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Paper presented at the TAPPI Fall Technical Conference, San Diego, CA, September 2002.

Figure 17. Photomicrograph showing defects (arrows) in horizontally-applied GMAW weld overlay
at an overlapped vertical tie-in

Figure 18. Penetrant testing showing hot cracking in a horizontally-applied GMAW overlay.

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Paper presented at the TAPPI Fall Technical Conference, San Diego, CA, September 2002.

Figure 19. Penetrant test revealing a hot crack in vertically-applied GMAW overlay.

Figure 20. A boat sample being removed from a weld overlay by grinding. Note on the left there is
a boat-shaped excavation for a previous sample that had already been removed.

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Paper presented at the TAPPI Fall Technical Conference, San Diego, CA, September 2002.

1.6 0.4 0.3 0.7 0.6 3.2 0.3 0.4 0.3

Figure 21. Cross section of a boat sample of ER309LSi stainless steel weld overlay having a low
ferrite content measured for one of the weld beads.

Figure 22. Micrograph showing a hot crack in a GMAW overlay. The top surface of the overlay is
on the left side. There crack passes through a porosity defect near the bottom of the
overlay on the left side.

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Paper presented at the TAPPI Fall Technical Conference, San Diego, CA, September 2002.

Figure 23. Cracking in an ER309LSi weld overlay due to copper liquid metal embrittlement.

Figure 24. Automatic weld overlay being applied inside a screen header.

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