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OriginallypublishedintheCanadianWeldingAssociationJournal,Spring2013,pp3039

WeldingonInservicePipelines:DispellingPopularMythsandMisconceptions

BillAmend
Sr.PrincipalEngineer,Welding&MaterialsTechnology
DetNorskeVeritas(USA),Inc.
3475CondorRidgeRd
YorbaLinda,CA92886USA
7143501838
Bill.amend@dnv.com

Introduction

WilliamA.Bruce
Director,Welding&MaterialsTechnology
DetNorskeVeritas(USA),Inc.
5777FrantzRd
Dublin,OH,43017USA
614B7346128
Bill.bruce@dnv.com

Successfulweldingoninservicepipelinesandpipingsystemsrequiresthattwoseparatevulnerabilities
beconsidered;burningthroughthepipewallduringwelding,andforminghydrogencracks.Burning
through(illustratedinFigure1)occurswhentheinsidesurfacetemperatureofthepipereaches
temperaturesatwhichthepipewallhaslittleremainingstrength.Thissituationtypicallyoccurswhen
thepipewallisrelativelythinandtheheatinputexceedstheabilityofthepipewallandthepressurized
fluidtoquicklyconducttheheatawayfromtheweld.
Hydrogencracking(illustratedinFigure2)canoccureitherduringtheweldingprocessorsometime
afterweldingiscompleted.Itmostoftenoccursinhardheataffectedzones,butitcanalsooccurin
weldmetaldeposits.Itrequiresthesimultaneouspresenceofasusceptiblemicrostructure(martensite),
andsufficientamountsofbothstressandhydrogenintheweldzone.Avoidinghydrogencracking
involvesminimizingoneormoreofthosethreefactors.Forexamplealowhydrogenweldingprocessis
typicallypreferredovertheuseofcellulosicfluxcoveredSMAWelectrodesandheatinputsareselected
toproducerelativelyslowweldcoolingratesthatpreventtheformationofmartensite.
Problemswithweldingoninservicepipingtypicallyoccurasaresultofvariousmythsand
misconceptionsabouthowtoavoidburningthroughandhydrogencracking.Someofthose
misconceptionsareaddressedbelow.
AvoidingBurningThrough:ControltheInsideSurfaceTemperature,NotthePressure
Acommonmisconceptionisthatthesusceptibilitytoburningthroughishighlyrelatedtothepressureof
thefluidinthepipe.Ithasbeencommontousesimplecalculationstodeterminethesafepressure
thatwouldavoidburningthroughbykeepingthehoopstresslowrelativetothepipeyieldstress.More
recently,researchershavedemonstratedthatthesusceptibilitytoburningthroughisonlyweakly
relatedtopressure.Itismuchmorestronglyrelatedtothemaximumtemperaturereachedattheinside
surfaceofthepipeIinethesamewaythatasmalldiameter,deepcorrosionpitcanwithstandveryhigh
internalpressurewithoutleaking,therelativelysmallsurfaceareaoftheweldpuddlecanwithstand
highinternalpressureeventhoughthehottestportionofthepipewallunderthepuddlehaslittle
strength.EmpiricaltestinghasshownthatforweldingwithlowhydrogenSMAWelectrodes,burning
throughishighlyunlikelyiftheinsidesurfacetemperatureofthepipeisnogreaterthanabout1800F
(982C)[ref13].Forcellulosicelectrodestherecommendedsurfacetemperatureislower,about1400F

(760C).Thermalanalysismodelsenableausertoquicklyandeasilypredictwhattheinsidesurface
temperaturewillbeifdetailsofthepipethickness,fluidtype,pressureandvelocity,weldheatinput,
andjointdesignareknown[ref45].AnexampleofmodeloutputisshowninTable1.Themodelsshow
thatreducingthepressureingaspipelinescanincreasethesusceptibilitytoburningthroughbecause
thermalconductivityofgasisloweratlowerpressure.Asaresult,theheatisconductedawayfromthe
weldzonemoreslowly,somaximuminsidesurfacetemperaturesrise.
Testinghasshownthatataminimumwallthicknessof0.25in(6.5mm)orgreateritisverydifficultto
burnthroughusinglowhydrogenweldingprocessestypicallyusedoninservicepipelinesandnormal
weldingpractice[ref6].Usingcarefullycontrolledheatinputsitispossibletoweldonwallthicknesses
aslowasbout0.125in(3.2mm)withoutburningthrough.
ConsiderAmperageandNotJustHeatInput
Heatinput(HI)isinfluencedbyweldingcurrent,voltageandtravelspeedinaccordancewiththe
followingequation:HI(kJ/mm)=0.06xAmpsxVolts/Travelspeed(mm/min)
Researchersfoundthattherewasincreasedresistancetoburningthroughwhendesiredheatinputs
wereobtainedbyusingslowtravelspeedandlowweldingcurrent,ratherthanbyusingfastertravel
speedandhighercurrent[ref7].WhileSMAWelectrodescanbeoperatedatarangeofcurrent,welding
currentcaneasilybelimitedtolowvaluesbyspecifyingtheuseofsmalldiameterelectrodes(e.g.,2.4
mmdiametermaximumfor6.4mmwallthicknessandless).
TakeCareinSelectionandStorageofLowHydrogenElectrodes
Thebestresistancetocrackingoccurswhenthehydrogencontentoftheweldzoneisminimized.Today,
mostpipelineoperatorsandcontractorsareawareofthebenefitsofproducingweldshavingalow
hydrogencontentwhenmakinghottapweldsorinservicerepairs.Forexample,CSAStandardZ662
2011[ref8]containsseveralreferencestotheuseoflowhydrogenweldingpractices.Thestatements
rangefromlowhydrogenweldingpracticesshallbeusedtolowhydrogenweldingpracticesshould
beconsidered,dependinguponthespecificapplication.Whatislesscommonlyrecognizedisthe
influenceofelectrodeselectionandcareonthehydrogencontentofdepositedweldmetal.The
designationH4RfollowingaSMAWelectrodeclassificationindicatesanelectrodewithamoisture
resistantfluxcoatingcapableofproducinghydrogencontentsof4ml/100gmofdepositedweldmetal
intheasreceivedcondition.Incomparison,cellulosicfluxcoveredelectrodes,forexampleAWSEXX10
typeelectrodes,depositweldmetalwithupto10timesasmuchhydrogen.
Maintainingthedesignatedhydrogencontentisdependentuponatmosphericconditions,timeof
exposuretotheatmosphere,andstorageconditions.Electrodesaretypicallyratedforacertainnumber
ofhoursofexposuretostandardatmosphericconditionsbeforetheelectrodemoisturecontent
increasestounacceptablelevels.Moresevere(hotandhumid)atmosphericconditionscanreducethe
recommendedexposuretime.Exposuretimelimitsalsorelatetoweldmetaltensilestrength,with
higherstrengthshavingshorterexposuretimelimits.

Storageinaholdingovenheatedtoabout120150Cafterremovalfromhermeticallysealedcans
effectivelypreventsmoistureabsorption.Asaresult,theatmosphericexposureclockdoesnotstart
untiltheelectrodesareremovedfromtheholdingoven.However,atmosphericexposuretimeis
cumulative.Twoseparateexposuresofsixhoursseparatedbyadayofstorageinaheatedstorageoven
arethesameasasingleexposureof12hours.
Anelectrodeshouldeitherbediscardedorredried(baked)athightemperatureafterthespecified
exposuretimelimitisexceeded.Notethatthetemperaturerequiredtoredryanelectrodeismuch
higherthanthetemperaturerequiredtosimplymaintainlowhydrogencharacteristics.Electrode
holdingovensdonotreachthetemperaturerangeofabout260425Ctypicallyrequiredtoredry
electrodes.Forsmallinserviceweldingapplications,itmaybeadvantageoustopurchaseanduselow
hydrogenelectrodesinsmallerquantities(e.g.,10lb[4.5kg]cans)sothatthechallengeofmanaging
exposuretimeforunusedelectrodesisminimized.
Notethatnotalllowhydrogenelectrodesaredeliveredinthesamedegreeofdryness.Electrodes
deliveredinhermeticallysealedcanswilltypicallyachievethedesignatedweldmetalhydrogencontents
whenusedrightoutofthecan.However,electrodesdeliveredinsomeplasticwrappedcardboard
boxescanrequireredryingpriortouseinordertoachievetheratedweldmetalhydrogencontents.It
isimportanttocheckthemanufacturersrecommendationspriortouse.
AHardnessofHV350isNottheMagicNumbertoAvoidCracking
Traditionally,ithasbeencommontospecifythathardnessoftheheataffectedzonenotexceedHV350
whenqualifyingweldingproceduresforuseoninservicepiping.CSAZ662statesthatforfilletwelds
andbranchconnectionsmadeontopipingcontainingflowingfluid,weldmetalorHAZhardness
valuesinexcessof350HVshallrequireanevaluationoftheweldingprocedurespecificationsto
determinethattheyaresuitablefortheavoidanceofhydrogeninducedcracking.However,itisnotthe
hardness,butratherthepresenceofacracksusceptiblemicrostructurethatinfluencesthelikelihoodof
cracking.Hardnesslimitsaremerelyusedasindicatorsofdetrimentalamountsofmartensite.

Thefactthatisseldomrecognizedisthatthehardnessassociatedwithmartensiteisdifferentforsteels
ofvariouscompositionsthatarecommonlyfoundinpipelines,and,themeasuredhardnesswillbe
differentdependinguponhowmuchofthemartensiteispresent.Furthermore,theamountof
martensitethatrepresentsasignificantsusceptibilitytohydrogencrackingisdependentuponthe
amountofhydrogenpresentintheweldzone.Weldzoneswithlowerweldmetalhydrogencontents
cantoleratemoremartensitewithoutcracking.

Anotherfactorthataffectscracksusceptibilityisthesteelthickness.Afteraweldsolidifies,itcanbe
supersaturatedwithhydrogen.Hydrogenthendiffusestofreesurfaces,whereitcanescape.Whenthe
materialbeingweldedisthick,diffusiondistancesaregreater,whichresultsinmorehydrogen
remainingintheweld.Thicknessalsoaffectsrestraintlevelswiththickermaterialsdevelopinghigher
levelsofresidualstress.

Therefore,thespecifiedmaximumhardnesslimitneedstoconsiderthecompositionofthesteelbeing
welded,thethicknessofthesteel,aswellasthelikelyamountofhydrogenintheweldzone[ref9].As
illustratedinFigure3,ahardnessofHV350canbenonconservativeforlowcarbonequivalentsteels
thickerthan0.375in(9.5mm).Ontheotherhand,forrelativelyhighcarbonequivalentsteel,for
examplehigherthan0.42CEIIW,ahardnesshigherthanHV350canbetoleratedwhenlowhydrogen
weldpracticesareusedthatproducehydrogencontentsnohigherthan4ml/100gmdepositedweld
metal.Forthinnersteel,thehardnesslimitscanalsobehigher,asillustratedinFigure4.

Conclusions
Weldsofgoodstructuralintegritycanbemadesafelyontoinservicepipelinesandpipingsystemsby
selectingweldingproceduresthatbalancethesusceptibilitytohydrogencrackingwiththesusceptibility
toburningthrough.Adjustingheatinputstomaintainacceptablylowinsidesurfacetemperatureswhile
stillminimizingthelikelihoodofformingmartensiteandusinglowhydrogenweldingpracticesarekeys
tosuccess.

Table1EffectofHeatInputonInsideSurfaceTemperatureandCriticalCoolingRateofFilletWeld,
CalculatedUsingModelfromRef.4
kJ/in(kJ/mm) Insidesurface
Coolingtime
temperature,F(C) (800500C,seconds)
25(0.98)
1248(676)
9.07
30(1.18)
1355(735)
11.60
35(1.38)
1485(807)
14.01
Conditions:5.56mmpipewithmatchingthicknessfullencirclementsleeve.Pipecarrying400psig(2758
kPa)naturalgasat13C,flowingat10ft/sec(3m/sec)


Figure1Typicalappearanceofapinholeresultingfromburningthroughonpressurizedthinwall
piping.

Figure2Typicalappearanceofhydrogencrackinginthehardheataffectedzoneatthetoeofafillet
weldmadeontopipesubjectedtoacceleratedcoolingoftheweldzone

Figure3Hardnesscriterionforthickmaterials(>9.5mm)having>0.1%C,basedonCEIIW

Figure4Hardnesscriterionforthinmaterials(9.5mm)having>0.1%C,basedonCEIIW

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