Sie sind auf Seite 1von 18

Engineering Failure Analysis 12 (2005) 634651

www.elsevier.com/locate/engfailanal

Corrosion in a buried pressurised water pipeline


S. Srikanth a,*, T.S.N. Sankaranarayanan a, K. Gopalakrishna a,
B.R.V. Narasimhan a, T.V.K. Das a, Swapan Kumar Das b
a

National Metallurgical Laboratory Madras Centre, CSIR Madras Complex, Post TTTI, Taramani, Chennai 600 113, India
b
National Metallurgical Laboratory Jamshedpur 831 007, India
Received 7 November 2003; accepted 11 February 2004
Available online 2 November 2004

Abstract
Premature and frequent failures by rapid corrosion in a pressurised underground bitumen coated mild steel ERW
water pipeline were investigated. Metallurgical and chemical characterisation of the corroded region as well as the corrosion products did not show any unusual behaviour. The soil adjacent to the pipe was also found to be only mildly
aggressive in terms of the redox potential, pH, water-soluble chloride and sulphate ion concentrations and concentration of sulphate-reducing bacteria and acid-producing bacteria over the entire length of the pipe. However, soil surface
potential gradient survey and pipe-to-soil potential measurements at various locations along the pipeline as a function
of time indicated the presence of stray currents. The rapid and frequent failures observed are promoted by stray current
corrosion.
 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Failure analysis; Pipeline failures; Corrosion; Stray currents; Buried pipelines

1. Background
Repeated failures at dierent locations in a pressurised underground water pipeline were reported within
a software complex at Chennai, India. The pipe was made of mild steel ERW tube of 165 mm diameter and
5 mm thickness. The pipes had a bitumen coating of about 34 mm thicknesses all around the surface. The
pipes were buried underground at depths varying from 1 to 2.5 m and traverses a length of about 1 km
around the building. The pipes are utilised to supply pressurised water (10.5 kgf/cm2) for the re extinguishing system. The water remains static in a pressurised condition in the pipes. The pipelines are not
*

Corresponding author. Tel.: +91 44 22542077/22549834; fax: +91 44 22541027.


E-mail address: s_srikanth_99@yahoo.com (S. Srikanth).

1350-6307/$ - see front matter  2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.engfailanal.2004.02.006

S. Srikanth et al. / Engineering Failure Analysis 12 (2005) 634651

635

cathodically protected. Failures were reported within two years of service and about six failures at dierent
locations have been reported over the past two years. The layout of the pipeline and the reported locations
of failure are shown in Fig. 1.

2. Introduction
The common types of corrosion that can occur in a buried pipeline are: (a) pitting corrosion because of
material in-homogeneities, (b) chloride or sulphate induced stress corrosion cracking, (c) corrosion by concentration cells in soil arising out of dierences in oxygen concentration in the soil adjacent to the pipe at
dierent regions, (d) microbiologically induced corrosion under anaerobic conditions by sulphate-reducing
bacteria (SRB) and acid-producing bacteria (APB), (e) tuberculation because of the build up of corrosion
products on the internal pipe surfaces and (f) stray current corrosion by earth return direct currents.
Pitting corrosion occurs in pipelines because of the formation of local galvanic cells between the top of
the pit that has access to oxygen (cathode) and the bottom of pit that is depleted of oxygen (anode). Pitting
corrosion is normally associated with small size of pits, presence of a number of pits, long period of

Fig. 1. Schematic of software complex, layout of the pressurised water pipeline and locations of failure. The locations of pipeline
excavations, redox potential and pipe-to-soil potential measurements are also shown.

636

S. Srikanth et al. / Engineering Failure Analysis 12 (2005) 634651

initiation, localised and intense attack and presence of sharply dened holes. Stress corrosion cracking is
generally associated with the presence of water-soluble chloride and sulphate ions and characterised by
microscopic surface cracks. Oxygen concentration cells can form when a pipeline passes through two or
more dierent types of soil with dierent oxygen permeation characteristics or when the pipeline stretches
through a groundwater table. To assess the formation of concentration cells, possible changes along the
surface of the pipe have to be examined with regard to the extent of aeration (redox potential) and the composition and aggressiveness of the soil (pH, salt content, resistivity etc). Regions with no aeration, high salt
content, low pH and high moisture serve as anodes and regions with good aeration, low salt content, higher
pH and moderately wet areas serve as cathodes. Microbial corrosion of underground pipelines normally
occurs under anaerobic conditions and mainly by the activity of the SRB although bacterial corrosion
by APB has also been reported [1]. The environmental conditions conducive for SRBs are temperature between 10 and 30 C (optimum 2530 C), pH of 59 (optimum 67.5), soil resistivities of 50020,000
ohm cm and a redox potential of around 100 mV (with respect to standard hydrogen electrode) [2].
For coated pipes, anaerobic conditions may be found near or underneath the coating defects. The characteristic of microbiological corrosion by SRB is the presence of black iron sulphide at the regions of corrosion and consequent H2S emanation [2].
Buried pipelines sometimes provide a better conducting path than the soil for earth return currents from
electric generators. Accelerated corrosion occurs where the current leaves the pipe i.e., at points of low
resistance along the pipeline that serve as anodes. In coated steel pipe, the discharge of the current occurs
in small areas such as pinholes or other aws in pipe/coating. At these locations, pitting and perforation of
the pipe wall can occur. The most common source of stray currents is direct current (DC) systems [3]. Stray
current corrosion is characterised by rapid and localised corrosion over a small surface area at coating defects/discontinuities and presence of pits and perforations. Unlike galvanic corrosion, where current discharge is distributed over wide areas, it is restricted to a few small points of discharge in stray current
corrosion. Stray currents can operate over long distances since the anode and cathode are more likely to
be remotely separated from one another. Existence of stray currents can be detected by measuring the uctuations of the pipe-to-soil potential with respect to time and distance as well as measurement of the surface
potential gradient in the soil along the pipeline route [4]. When the stray current is interrupted, the pipeto-soil potential will shift to more negative values [5]. Similarly, the potential gradient in the soil is a measure of the current density and the higher the current density, the greater the possibility of encountering a
stray current corrosion problem on the pipeline. Recently, direct stray current mapping along the pipeline
route has also been carried out [6].
In the present study, frequent corrosion and failures in a buried pressurised water pipeline in a software
complex were investigated. A distinct feature of the software complex was the large number of battery
backed uninterrupted power supply systems of high rating and their earthing around the complex. Both
the pipeline surface at the region of corrosion as well as the properties of the soil along the pipeline were
examined. Subsequently, the variation of the pipe-to-soil potential and the surface potential gradient along
the pipeline was measured as a function of time.

3. Experimental
3.1. Visual inspection
The piping was excavated at ve dierent locations. These included one location of failure and four other
locations close to where failure was reported on earlier occasions. The photograph of one of the excavated
site is shown in Fig. 2. The failed pipe was removed and the samples from the region of failure were cut for
metallurgical examination. Samples of soil in contact with the pipe from the ve locations were taken for

S. Srikanth et al. / Engineering Failure Analysis 12 (2005) 634651

637

Fig. 2. Photograph of an excavated pipeline site. The pipe-to-soil potential measurement is also demonstrated.

laboratory analysis of the soil. In addition, sixteen dierent locations along the pipeline were selected and
excavated up to depths of 0.50.75 m for measurement of soil resistivity, redox potential and soil samples
were collected from all the sixteen locations for laboratory analysis.
3.2. Redox potential measurements
Redox potentials (voltage measured between a Pt wire in the soil solution and a reference electrode) of
the soil at the excavated sites (20 locations as shown in Fig. 1) were measured using a Pt electrode and a
saturated calomel reference electrode (SCE) and a high impedance electrometer with an input impedance
exceeding 107 ohm (Eurotron, Italy, Model: Microcal 200). The redox potentials were measured at depths
of soil ranging from 0.5 to 1.7 m. The Pt electrode comprised of a 0.5 mm Pt wire tied through a hole to a Pt
sheet of size 20 12 0.5 mm (length width thickness) giving a surface area in excess of 4.8 cm2. The
standard SCE was procured from commercial sources. The electrodes were checked for their accuracy in
a Lights solution (39.2 g/l of Fe(NH4)2(SO4)2 6H2O, 48.22 g/l of FeNH4(SO4)2 12H2O and 56.2 ml/l
of H2SO4). The measured redox potential in the Lights solution using a Pt and SCE was +436 mV and
agrees with the theoretical value.
The redox potential was measured in all the excavated sites shown in Fig. 1. The Pt electrode was
buried into the soil to be in contact with the soil solution. The SCE was also buried into the soil close
(within 20 cm) to the Pt electrode. The wire from the Pt electrode was connected to the positive terminal and the SCE to the negative terminal of the electrometer. Moisture was sprinkled in the soil
around the electrodes to ensure good conductivity. The redox potential values remained constant (5
mV) for periods in excess of 30 min. The redox potentials measured were also veried by using a saturated Cu|CuSO4 reference electrode. The redox potential measured with the dierent reference electrodes were within 15 mV.

638

S. Srikanth et al. / Engineering Failure Analysis 12 (2005) 634651

3.3. Laboratory analysis of soil


The samples collected from the excavated sites were measured for the minimum resistivity using California test method 424 [7]. The chloride and sulphate content of the samples from the excavated sites were
determined using California test methods 417 and 422, respectively [8,9]. The pH of the samples was measured by standard procedures.
3.4. Microbiological analysis of soil and corrosion product
The population of SRB in the soil adjacent to the failed region of the pipeline and the corrosion product
scraped from the cavities was measured by sequential inoculation of a triplicate series of dilution tubes containing Postgate medium B and allowing for 21 days of incubation at 35 C [10,11]. The APB growth was
revealed by a change in the MICKIT III BT1/APB fermentative anaerobic bacteria culture medium colour
from red to yellow [12].
3.5. Material tests
3.5.1. Chemical analysis
The chemical analyses of the pipe sample at dierent locations near and away from the failed regions
were determined using an Optical Emission Spectrophotometer (Spectrolab, Germany). Electron probe
microanalysis (EPMA) at the rusted regions in the cavity as well as on the pipe surface was carried out
to determine the nature of the corrosion product and for the presence of any deleterious trace elements.

Fig. 3. Sketch of the Cu|CuSO4 (sat) reference electrode fabricated locally.

S. Srikanth et al. / Engineering Failure Analysis 12 (2005) 634651

639

3.5.2. Mechanical and microstructural properties


The yield strength, ultimate tensile strength, elongation and macro-hardness of the pipe sample were
measured to check for any material defects. Stereomicroscopy, optical microscopy and scanning electron
microscopy at various magnications were carried out at the pinhole area, cavity and the un-failed surface.
Microhardness prole measurements in the lateral and longitudinal sections were also carried out. In addition, the cavity surface with the corrosion product as well as soil adherent to the pipeline at the corroded
region were subjected to X-ray diraction (XRD). A LEICA DMLM optical microscope, LEICA VMHT
) and a Jeol
microhardness tester, Seimens D-500 diractometer using Co Ka radiation (Ka = 1.79026 A
JSM 840A Scanning Electron Microscope were used for the above purpose.
3.6. Soil surface potential gradient survey
For surface potential gradient measurements, two-matched Cu|CuSO4 half-cell electrodes in conjunction
with a high impedance electrometer were used. The Cu|CuSO4 half-cells were fabricated in the laboratory
using terracotta containers containing saturated copper sulphate solution and sealed at the top by perspex
plates. A pure electrolytic copper rod (34 mm diameter) inserted into the copper sulphate solution through

Fig. 4. Photographs of the corroded (failed) and nearby regions of the pipeline: (a) cavity covered with corrosion products and the
existence of a pinhole, (b) cavity partially corroded, (c) pipeline surface away from the cavities and (d) inner surface of pipeline.

640

S. Srikanth et al. / Engineering Failure Analysis 12 (2005) 634651

the Perspex lid served as the electrode. A provision was made on the top (in the Perspex plate) for periodic
rell of saturated copper sulphate solution. The Cu|CuSO4 half-cells were tested against a SCE. The potential of the Cu|CuSO4 (sat) cell against the SCE was 60 mV (5 mV). Further, the potential between any two
Cu|CuSO4 (sat) half-cells was within 58 mV. For the surface potential gradient survey, the Cu|CuSO4 cells
were spaced several metres apart in contact with the earth and in series with a high impedance electrometer
and the potential dierence between the cells were recorded to detect the earth current. For this purpose, 20
sites were dug up with depths ranging from 0.5 to 0.75 m along the pipeline route shown in Fig. 1. The
Cu|CuSO4 cells were placed inside the pit and covered with the soil. Water was sprinkled in the soil around
the cell to improve the conductivity. A typical sketch of the Cu|CuSO4 half-cell used for the measurements
is shown in Fig. 3. The surface potential was measured as a function of time continuously for a period of
three days. On the third day, the normal power to the software complex was switched o and the diesel
generator set activated to detect any variation in the surface soil potential upon the interruption of the regular power supply. Surface soil potentials were recorded at intervals of 15 min for a 3-h period under these
conditions (power-interrupted conditions).
3.7. Pipe-to-soil potential measurements
Pipe-to-soil potential measurements were carried out at four locations. The soil was excavated up to the
level of the pipe (1.52 m). The locations are shown in Fig. 1. Water table was not encountered up to the
excavated depths. For the purpose of pipe-to-soil potential measurement, the bitumen coating was removed
over a small area (20 cm2), the metal surface thoroughly polished with emery paper and a Pt foil was
placed on the polished metal surface. A Pt wire of 0.5 mm diameter was placed between the Pt foil and
the metal surface of the pipe and a sticking tape was applied over the Pt foil to ensure good contact between
the foil and the metal surface. The Cu|CuSO4 half-cells were immersed into the soil, one close to the pipeline, and two other cells on either side along the pipeline, each at a distance of approximately 20 m. The
purpose was to measure the pipe-to-soil potential over a large distance along the pipeline. A platinum lead
connected to the Cu|CuSO4 cell served as the negative electrode and the Pt wire attached to the pipe served
as the positive electrode. The potential between the Cu|CuSO4 half-cell and the Pt wire attached to the steel
pipe was measured using a high impedance electrometer. The photograph of the pipe-to-soil potential meas-

Table 1
Redox potential (wrt SHE) of the soil at various locations along the pipeline
Location

Depth (m)

Redox potential (SHE) mV

Location

Depth (m)

Redox potential (SHE) mV

C1
C2
C3b
C4
C5
C6
C7
C8
C9
C10
C11
C12
C13
C14
C15
C16

0.6
0.595
0.745
0.63
0.45
0.595
0.5
0.645
0.675
0.595
0.515
0.600
0.58
0.64
0.50
0.62

481.4
440.0
545.0
495.2
450.0
430.0
445.0
441.0
546.0
495.0
471.5
466.0
391.6
458.0
466.0
495.0

P1
P2
P3
P4

1.10
1.75
1.5
1.6

377
426
415

S. Srikanth et al. / Engineering Failure Analysis 12 (2005) 634651

641

urement arrangement on the site is shown in Fig. 2. The pipe-to-soil potentials were measured at intervals
of 30 min for three days continuously, both under normal power supply and power supply-interrupted
conditions.

Table 2
Minimum resistivities, pH, water-soluble chloride and sulphate concentrations of the soil excavated from various sites
Location

Minimum resistivity
(ohm cm)

pH

Water-soluble chloride
conc. (ppm)

Water-soluble sulphate
conc. (ppm)

C1
C2
C3b
C4
C5
C6
C7
C8
C9
C10
C11
C12
C13
C14
C15
C16
P1
P2
P3
P4
Soil adhering to pipe at the failed spot
Corrosion product at the cavity

7463
5495
6250
6667
5848
4926
4082
8065
9709
7194
6757
9009
6803
15,385
18,518
4785
9009
5587
6803
8696
Not measured
Not measured

8.18
8.05
8.18
7.90
8.21
8.05
7.67
8.04
7.88
8.17
8.08
7.92
7.77
7.44
7.44
7.87
7.55
8.00
8.18
8.58
8.53
7.17

Not measured

190
270
220
200
220
880

Not measured

2750
4730
3460
2780
2000
5700

Table 3
Degree of corrosivity as a function of soil resistivity, pH and water-soluble chloride and sulphate concentrations of soil
Soil resistivity (ohm cm)

Water-soluble chloride
conc. (ppm)

Water-soluble sulphate
conc. (ppm)

pH

Degree of corrosivity

0500
5001000
10002000
200010,000
Above 10,000

Over 5000
15005000
5001500
Below 500

Over 10,000
150010,000
1501500

0150

<5.5
5.56.5
6.57.5
>7.5

Very severe
Severe
Moderate
Mild
Negligible

Table 4
Population of sulphate-reducing bacteria and acid-producing bacteria in the soil adjacent to the cavity and the corrosion product
within the cavity
Concentration (count/gm)

Soil
Corrosion product

Sulphate-reducing bacteria

Acid-producing bacteria

20
Nil

230
Nil

642

S. Srikanth et al. / Engineering Failure Analysis 12 (2005) 634651

4. Results and discussion


4.1. Visual inspection
The surface of the failed region in the pipe is shown in Fig. 4. Two large cavities of 10 and 20 mm diameter and hemispherical in shape were noticed adjacent to each other (within 23 m) where large metal loss
and corrosion was visible. These are shown in Fig. 4(a) and (b). In addition several micron-sized shallow
pits were observed on the surface layer as seen in the photographs. In one of the cavities (corroded region),
Table 5
Mechanical properties of the pipe at the failed and normal regions

Near cavity
Near cavity
Away from cavity

Tensile strength (MPa)

Yield strength (MPa)

% Elongation

Brinel hardness BHN

355
380
367

265
260
279

40.48
30.28
37.08

109

Fig. 5. Stereomicroscopic pictures of the cavities and the corroded region.

S. Srikanth et al. / Engineering Failure Analysis 12 (2005) 634651

643

there was a pinhole (11.5 mm diameter) penetrating right through the thickness of the pipe. The other
cavity had a depth of about 23 mm and showed corrosive deposits within the cavity. It is apparent that the
corrosion was initiated on the outer surface beneath the bitumen coating and penetrated into the pipe. The
corrosion product scraped from these two cavities was taken for chemical analysis and other tests. The inner surface of the pipe (Fig. 4(d)) did not show any visible surface defect and showed only a thin magnetite
layer on the inner surface. This surface was free of excessive corrosion. The bitumen coating appeared to be
in good condition and no corrosion by-products were found at the outer surface of the pipe in the other
locations. The soil around the pipe was found to be clay-like in nature.
4.2. Redox potential measurements
The redox potentials of the soil measured with respect to SCE and corrected with reference to standard
hydrogen (SHE) electrode at the 20 excavated sites are given in Table 1. The redox potentials of the soil at
the various locations are more or less uniform and lie in the range of 400650 mV (wrt SHE). It is seen that
the conditions in the soil are largely oxidizing (>400 mV) and are not conducive to anaerobic microbiological activity.

Fig. 6. Optical micrographs at 200 of: (a) cavity region where extensive corrosion is visible and (b) pipeline surface away from the
cavity. (Microstructures at both the locations are similar, uniform and reveal a ferrite structure with ne pearlite at the grain
boundaries.)

644

S. Srikanth et al. / Engineering Failure Analysis 12 (2005) 634651

4.3. Laboratory analysis of soil


The results of the minimum resistivity of the soil samples, pH and the concentration of water-soluble
chloride and sulphate from the various excavated sites are given in Table 2. The eect of soil resistivity,
water-soluble chloride and sulphate concentrations and pH on the corrosion propensity of the pipeline
is summarised in Table 3. The laboratory minimum soil resistivities ranged from 4000 to 20,000 ohm cm,
which is considered negligibly corrosive. However, the soil at locations C6 and C7 had higher conductivity
than the rest of the soil. The measured pH of the soils was also in the alkaline range indicating negligible
corrosivity of the soil. It is seen that the water-soluble chloride and sulphate concentration in the soil adjacent to the pipeline is below the threshold value. However, it is observed that the sulphate concentration in
the soil is much more than the chloride ion concentration.
4.4. Microbiological analysis
The population of SRB and APB in the soil adjacent to the pipeline at the failed location and in the corrosion product is given in Table 4. It is seen that both SRB and APB were not detected in the corrosion
product and their concentrations in the soil are much below the threshold limit for microbially induced corrosion. Further, the redox potential values in the soil indicated highly oxidising conditions not conducive to
anaerobic microbiological activity. The pH of the soil as well as in the corrosion product ranged from 7.5 to
8.5 and clearly the formation of acids assisted by microbes is ruled out.
4.5. Mechanical properties and microstructure
The tensile and yield strength, elongation and the hardness of the pipe samples are given in Table 5. The
mechanical properties are within the specied values. The stereomicroscopic pictures of the failed region at

Fig. 7. Microhardness prole along the pipe surface and the cross-section of the cavity. (There is no variation in microhardness both
along the pipeline surface as well as the cross-section at the cavity region.)

S. Srikanth et al. / Engineering Failure Analysis 12 (2005) 634651

645

Fig. 8. Scanning electron micrographs of the corroded surface at magnications 10 and 600. (There is no evidence of inter-granular
or trans-granular corrosion.)
Table 6
Chemical analysis of the pipe sample at various locations
Location

Inside cavity
Outer surface of pipe away from cavity
Inner surface of pipe away from cavity

Composition (%)
C

Mn

Si

0.02
0.02
0.03

0.009
0.010
0.009

0.023
0.031
0.025

0.17
0.18
0.18

0.02
0.02
0.02

10 showing the two large cavities are shown in Fig. 5. The optical micrographs (200) at the cavity and the
region away from the cavity are shown in Fig. 6. It is observed that the microstructures are uniform in all
the regions and have a ferrite structure with ne pearlite at the grain boundaries. The microhardness values

646

S. Srikanth et al. / Engineering Failure Analysis 12 (2005) 634651

taken at the cavities and the normal surface did not also show any variation. The microhardness prole,
both along the surface of the pipe as well as the cross-section at the cavity region is shown in Fig. 7. It
is seen that there is no variation in the values of microhardness, both along the surface as well as in the
cross-section. The scanning electron micrographs of the fracture surface at magnications of 12 and
600 are shown in Fig. 8. The fracture surface shows the presence of corrosion products (mainly iron oxide)
and does not reveal any inter-granular or trans-granular cracking.

Table 7
Results of soil surface potential survey along the pipeline route (using matched Cu|CuSO4 (sat) cells)
Location of the matched half-cells

Soil surface
potential (mV)

Distance between the


matched half-cells (m)

Potential gradient (mV/m)

C1C2
C2C3a
C3aC3b
C2C3b
C3bC4
C5C6
C6C7
C7C8
C8C9
C9C10
C12C13
C5C13
C9C14
C10C14
C14C15
C15C16

92
62
49
34
18
78
57
99
2.6
43
107
109
62
29
195
73.5

39.4
17.5
23.8
40.1
18.0
22.8
25.2
39.6
31.3
30.8
31.2
22.3

30.2
37.6
34.4

2.335
3.543
2.059
0.848
1.000
3.420
2.262
2.500
0.083
1.396
3.429
4.888

0.960
5.186
2.137

Fig. 9. Variation of the soil surface potential gradient with time under normal functioning.

S. Srikanth et al. / Engineering Failure Analysis 12 (2005) 634651

647

4.6. X-ray diraction and chemical analysis


The XRD of the cavity surface showed the presence of mainly magnetite (Fe3O4) and a-iron. The
soil adhering to the pipeline adjacent to the corroded surface showed the presence of quartz (SiO2),
anorthite (CaAl2Si2O8), albite (NaAlSi3O8) and orthoclase (KalSi3O8), which are normal constituents
of the soil. The chemical analysis of the pipe sample at dierent locations is tabulated In Table 6.
The EPMA of the cavity surface showed presence of chlorine and calcium in addition to iron. No
chlorides were detected either on the cavity surface or in the corrosion product by XRD. Scanning
electron microscopy at the cavity also did not indicate inter-granular or trans-granular stress corrosion
cracking normally associated with chlorine. Further, the soil analyses had indicated chlorine concentrations much below the threshold levels. It is possible that the presence of chlorine in the cavity surface

Fig. 10. Variation of the soil surface potential gradient with time under stray current-interrupted conditions.

Fig. 11. Variation of the pipe-to-soil potential with time at the excavated site P1.

648

S. Srikanth et al. / Engineering Failure Analysis 12 (2005) 634651

detected by EPMA was restricted to small local regions. Conventional analysis of the corrosion product scraped from the cavity also showed slightly higher presence of chlorine in comparison to the concentrations in the soil.
4.7. Soil surface potential gradient
The results of the soil surface potential measured using two matched Cu|CuSO4 electrodes at various
locations are shown in Table 7. The potential gradient in the soil, which is linearly proportional to the current density, was then evaluated by dividing the recorded potential dierence by the distance separating the
two matched half-cells. These results derived under static conditions are tabulated in Table 7. Higher current density regions indicate anodic regions where stray current corrosion is most likely to occur. The regions of relatively high potential gradient where stray current corrosion is most probable are indicated in

Fig. 12. Variation of the pipe-to-soil potential with time at the excavated sites P2 and P3.

Fig. 13. Variation of the pipe-to-soil potential with time at the excavated site P4.

S. Srikanth et al. / Engineering Failure Analysis 12 (2005) 634651

649

Fig. 1. It is seen that the predicted regions of high current density that are susceptible to pipeline failure by
stray current corrosion roughly agrees with the regions where the actual failures occurred over the past several months (shown in Fig. 1). The variation of surface potential gradient with time over a three-day period
is shown in Fig. 9. From the plot it is seen that the surface potential gradient between points C6 and C7 has
shown a spike in the positive direction, probably indicating discharge of current at that location during the
time period of the spike. The variation of surface potential gradient with time under power-interrupted conditions is shown in Fig. 10. When the regular power supply is interrupted by a switch over to the diesel
generator, there is a positive spike in the surface potential between the points C6 and C7 and a corresponding ve spike between the points C5 and C6 probably corresponding to the interruption of the stray
current.

Fig. 14. Variation of the pipe-to-soil potential with time at the excavated site P1 under stray current-interrupted conditions.

Fig. 15. Variation of the pipe-to-soil potential with time at the excavated sites P2 and P3 under stray current-interrupted conditions.

650

S. Srikanth et al. / Engineering Failure Analysis 12 (2005) 634651

Fig. 16. Variation of the pipe-to-soil potential with time at the excavated site P4 under stray current-interrupted conditions.

4.8. Pipe-to-soil potentials


The results of the pipe-to-soil potentials at the various locations as a function of time over a three day
period are shown in Figs. 1113. It is seen that the pipe-to-soil potential at all locations is more positive
than 500 mV. It was observed that the pipe-to-soil potentials remained reasonably steady over three days
at all locations except the ones corresponding to P3C8 and P1C3b. The pipe-to-soil potential P3C8 showed
a positive spike at around 15 h indicating a discharge of current from the pipe at this location and at the
time of the occurrence of the spike. The pipe-to-soil potential P1C3b showed a steady increase after 25 h.
The pipe-to-soil potentials at all the locations during the period that the regular power supply was interrupted (diesel generator set operative) is shown separately in Figs. 1416. It is seen that there is a large negative spike in the pipe-to-soil potentials P2C6 and P3C6 immediately upon activating the DG set indicating
an interruption of the stray current source at this location upon the switching on of the diesel generator set.
The pipe-to-soil potential values return to their original values after about an hour and half.

5. Conclusions
Based on the analysis of the experimental results, the following conclusions can be reached:
(a) The redox potential measurements indicate that the soil is highly oxidizing and is not conducive to the
growth of anaerobic bacteria.
(b) The laboratory analysis of the soil indicates that the soil resistivity, pH and the water-soluble chloride
and sulphate concentrations in the soil surrounding the pipeline are not likely to result to initiate rapid
corrosion due to aggressive conditions of the soil. The XRD and scanning electron microscopy results
conrmed the absence of chlorine or sulphate induced corrosion.
(c) The material properties such as microhardness, microstructure and composition were uniform in all
the regions (in the corroded as well as the uncorroded surfaces) of the pipe.

S. Srikanth et al. / Engineering Failure Analysis 12 (2005) 634651

651

(d) The surface potential gradient survey showed regions of possible high current density in the soil. The
spike in the surface potential gradient at the location between C6 and C7 indicates possible current
discharge at this location. The pipe-to-soil potential at the same location at that instant also conrmed
this.
(e) The sudden decrease in the pipe-to-soil potential upon the interruption of the regular power supply
implies the existence of a source of stray current close to location P2.
In conclusion it can be said that the corrosion in the pipeline was promoted by stray current corrosion as
evidenced by the uctuations in the pipe-to-soil potentials and the surface soil potential gradient. The current source probably lies close to the location P2 and is conrmed by the shift in the electrode potentials
related to the location P2 to more negative values. There exists an earthing from a battery backup close to
the point P2 that was identied as the source of DC stray current. Its discharge from the pipe occurs at
various locations depending on the location of the in-homogeneities in the pipe and bitumen coating.

Acknowledgements
The authors are thankful to Director, National Metallurgical Laboratory for permission to publish this
paper. The authors are also thankful to B. Ravikumar, NML, Jamshedpur for carrying out the XRD and
to Ms. Sandhya Rani, NEERI Chennai Centre for the bacterial count in the soil and corrosion product.

References
[1]
[2]
[3]
[4]
[5]
[6]
[7]
[8]
[9]
[10]
[11]
[12]

Pope DH, Morris EA. Some experiences with microbiologically inuenced corrosion of pipelines. Mater Performance 1995:238.
Barton LL. Sulfate-reducing bacteria. New York: Kluwer Academic Publishers; 1995.
Nikolakakos S. Stray currents generation, interference eects and control. NACE CORROSION/98, Paper No. 559, 1998.
Park KW, Cho YB, Jeon KS, Lee SM, Kho YT. Evaluation of stray current eect on the cathodic protection of underground
pipeline. In: Proceedings of the rst international pipeline conference, Calgary, Canada; 1996. ASME, p. 455462.
Bonds RW. Stray current eects on ductile iron pipe. Alabama, USA: Ductile Iron Pipe Research Association; 1997.
Radiodetection Corporation, 35, Whitney Road, Mahwah, NJ 07430, USA.
California Test Method 424, Method for testing soils and waters for conductivity. Department of Transportation, California,
1995.
California Test Method 417, Method of testing soils and waters for sulfate content. Department of Transportation, California,
1999.
California Test Method 422, Method of testing soils and waters for chloride content. Department of Transportation, California,
2000.
Colins CH, Lyne PM, Grange JM. Microbiological methods. 7th ed. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann; 1995.
Postgate JR. The sulphate-reducing bacteria. In: Library of Congress Catalogueing in Publication Data. 1st ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 1979.
Videla HA. Manual of biocorrosion. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press Inc.; 1996.