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CladdingProtectsVesselfromSulfideStressCracking

inSourService
ByKathyRiggsLarsen,Editoron11/2/20156:00AM

TheHVASthermalspraymethodisusedtocoattheinternalsurfacesofmanytypesofrefneryequipment.Hereitisbeingusedtoapply
aprotectiveinternalcoatingonaboiler.PhotocourtesyofIntegratedGlobalServices.

Whenadeethanizercolumninarefiningfacilitywasshutdownfortestingandinspectionin2013,
cracksinsidethecolumnwerediscovered.Thecrackdepthsrangedfrom1to10mm.Mostofthe
crackswerelocatedattrayringsupportwelds,whilesomewerefoundatcircumferentialweldsand
inthecolumnshellsbasematerial.Allpossibleunderlyingcausesforthecrackswereassessed
basedonthecolumnsprocessparameters,serviceconditions,previoushistory,andhardness
testingofmaterialfromtheaffectedareas.Theprocessfluidcontainedhydrogensulfide(H2S).
Cracksfoundduringpreviousinspectionshadbeenrepairedbygrinding.Theinvestigatingteam
concludedthatthelatestcrackswerecausedbysulfidestresscracking(SSC)atlocationswhere
weldswerepreviouslyrepairedandhadhighhardnesslevels.
Theextentofthecolumnsfailure,therootcauseofthecracking,mitigationsteps,andlongerterm
remedialactionsarediscussedinCORROSION2015paperno.5952,ApplicationofHVAS
CladdingtoMitigateSulfideStressCrackingandHydrogenInducedCrackinginaDeethanizer
Column,byI.Hall,T.Sabti,S.Dossary,etal.Accordingtotheauthors,thedeethanizercolumn
sufferedfromH2Scorrosion,orsourcorrosion,whichoccurswhenH2Sgasreactswithcarbonsteel

(CS)inawet,sourenvironment.Duringsourcorrosion,hydrogenatomsformedduringthe
corrosionprocessatthemetalsurfacewilldiffusethroughthecrosssectionoftheCSandbecome
trappedatlaminationscausedbyvoidsandnonmetallicinclusions.Whenatomichydrogenis
absorbedbysolidmetals,hydrogeninducedcracking(HIC)canresult.Thehydrogenatoms
combinetoformmolecularhydrogen(H2),whichcreatespressurefromwithinthemetal.Trapped
H2gathersattheselocationsandformsblistersaspressurebuilds.Eventuallystepwisecracking
occurswhenseveralhydrogenblistersconnectinthebasemetal.
Intheindustryitswellunderstoodthathydrogenpermeationtakesplaceinthesteelshellsof
vessels,saysNACEInternationalmemberIainHall,chieftechnologyofficerwithIntegratedGlobal
Services(Richmond,Virginia).Inasourenvironment,thecorrosionhappeningatthecarbonsteel
shellinterfaceisrelativelylowanddoesntreducematerialthicknessquickly.Theproblemiswith
materialsthataresusceptibletohydrogeninducedcracking.Heexplainsthehydrogenatomsthat
wouldnormallypassthroughtheCSshellinverylowconcentrationsinsteadwillaccumulateat
dislocationsorweaknessesinamaterialparticularlyatornearweldsandcausehydrogen
blistersorHIC.TheauthorsalsonotethatinthecaseofSSC,anyregionsintheCSmaterialorits
weldsthathavehardmicrostructureandareexposedtosourcorrosioncanexperiencehydrogen
embrittlement(HE)duetothehighconcentrationofdiffusedhydrogenatoms,andthathardness
levelsforCSinsourserviceshouldbebelow200Brinellhardness(HB).1Currentstandardsfor
pressurevesselsinsourservicecallfortheuseofHICresistantsteel,whichismanufacturedwith
reducedimpuritiesandcontrolledmorphologytopreventlaminationsandtrapsiteswherehydrogen
atomscouldcollect.
Thedeethanizercolumnwasfabricatedin1975,beforeHICresistantplaterequirementswerein
effectattherefinery.Additionally,Hallnotes,weldsthatwerenotpostweldheattreated(PWHT)
werealsohighlysusceptibletoHIC.SeveralmitigationmethodsareknowntopreventSSC.Oneis
toperformastressrelievingtreatmentonthemetaltoreducehardnesslevelstoacceptablelevels
inanannealedmicrostructure.AsecondmethodistocladtheCSbasematerialandweldswitha
corrosionresistantalloy(CRA).Claddingtheinteriorofthedeethanizercolumnwithathermal
sprayappliedCRAwouldformabarrierbetweentheCSandthesourprocessfluidandprevent
sourcorrosion,whichwouldstoptheformationofhydrogenatomsandtheirsubsequentmigration
intothesteel.Thermalsprayingisanindustrialcoatingprocessthatuseseitheranelectrical
(plasmaorarc)orchemical(flame)heatsourcetomeltacoatingmaterial(powderorwire)intotiny
dropletsandspraythemontosurfaces.
Toevaluaterepairalternativesforthedeethanizercolumn,ariskmatrixwasdeveloped.Because
ofthepresenceofhydrogenblisteringandtheconcernthatstepwisecrackingwouldoccurbetween
theblisters,stressrelievingoptionswerenotconsidered.Thermalspraycladding,usingaHIC
resistantNiCrMoWalloytocoattheinteriorofthedeethanizercolumn,wasselectedastherepair
method.ThistypeofCRAisknowntoprovidecorrosionprotectioninsourenvironmentshowever,
thethermalspraymethodselectedforapplyingthematerialisalsokeyforoptimumcorrosion
protection,Hallsays.Hecommentsthatthermalspraytechniques,likeweldingtechniques,vary
andthetechniqueselecteddependsontheprocessenvironmentandthecoatingsintendeduse.
Unlikeametallicthermalspraycoatingthatisdesignedtoactasasacrificialcoatingandcorrode

preferentiallytoprotectthesubstrate,Hallnotes,athermalspraycoatingforthisapplicationwould
needtocompletelyblockthefluidscorrosiveconstituentsfromcorrodingthebasemetal,so
porosityanddensityoftheappliedcoatingareimportantconsiderationsforpreventingcorrosionof
thesubstrate.
Athermalspraycoatingisanaccumulationofsplatsofdepositedmaterialonthesubstrate.When
splatsaredeposited,thininterlaminaroxidescanformasaresultofinflightoxidationofthe
claddingmaterial.Theseoxidebandsactasstressconcentrationsitesaswellaspathwaysfor
corrosivemediatopermeatethecoating.Acriticalparameterindeterminingtheintegrityofa
thermalspraycoatingsystemisthesplatsize,andasmallersplatsizeformsadensercoatingwith
littleornoporosity.2Theabilityofthecladdingmaterialtoformanonporouscoatingisa
considerationaswell.HallnotesthatsomeCRAs,whenusedwithcertainthermalsprayprocesses,
willdegradeandproduceaporouscoatingwithoxides.
Ahighvelocityarcspray(HVAS)thermalspraymethodandhighperformancemodifiedNiCrMoW
alloydevelopedbyIntegratedGlobalServicesspecificallyforsourservicecladdingapplications
wereevaluatedforuseonthedeethanizercolumn.AccordingtoHall,thisHVAStechniquereduces
theoxidationofthecoatingmaterialduringapplicationthroughanatomizationprocessthatdeposits
fineparticlestoproduceahighlydensecoatingandthealloywasfinetunedtoresistdegradation
duringapplicationandformanoxidefree,nonporouscoating.Electrochemicaltesting,inadditionto
standardmetallographicevaluation,wasconductedtoquantifythesuitabilityoftheHVASprocess
andmodifiedNiCrMoWalloy.Testresultsindicatedthecoatingscorrosionperformancewassimilar
towroughtHastelloyC276(UNSN10276)plate,andthedecisionwasmadetousethemodified
NiCrMoWalloyHVAScoating.
Thedeethanizercolumnwascoatedinsituonsite.Thiswasthefirsttimethatthisparticular
coatinghadbeenusedonsuchalargescalefortheinternalprotectionofavessel,Hallcomments,
notingthatitpreviouslyhadbeenusedonsmallscaleprojectstoprotectagainsthydrogen
blistering.Surfacepreparationbeforecoatingincludedrestorativeweldingworkcomprisedof
grindingandrepairingSSCcrackshighpressurewaterblastingandabrasiveblastingtoNACENo.
1/SSPCSP5,3whichremovedcorrosionproductsanddepositsontheshell.Anygeometrical
featuresthatcouldcontributetopoorcoatingdeposition,suchsharpedges,weldspatter,anddeep
groovesbetweenweldbeadsontheshellandtraysupportrings,wereremoved.TheHVAScoating
wasappliedatameancoatingthicknessof20mils(500m).
ThevesselwaslatertakenoutofserviceinJuly2014forsubsequenttestingandinspection.An
inspectionteamcombiningbothvendorandclienttechnicalpersonnelevaluatedtheintegrityofthe
appliedHVAScoating.NoindicationsofSSCorcorrosivecoatingdelaminationwereobserved,and
thevesselwasreturnedtoservicewithcontinuedmonitoring.
ContactIainHall,IntegratedGlobalServicesemail:iain.hall@integratedglobal.com.
Tradename.

References

1.APIRP571,DamageMechanismsAffectingFixedEquipmentintheRefiningIndustry(Washington,DC:
AmericanPetroleumInstitute,2011).
2.T.Shrestha,I.Hall,CorrosionMitigationUsingThermalSprayCoatingpresentedatNACE
CORROSION2014,SanAntonio,TX,2014.
3.NACENo.1/SSPCSP5,WhiteMetalBlastCleaning(Houston,TX:NACE).