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6th Middle East Nondestructive Conference and Exhibition

Engineering Critical Assessment (ECA) in Combination with AUT


Binu Rajendran(GE Inspection Technologies) & Santanu Saha (International Inspection Services)
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Abstract Weld quality is a critical part of any project in the O&G market whether a new refinery, offshore platform or cross country or subsea pipeline. Most of the acceptance criteria for NDT are based on the criteria for workmanship. The same acceptance criteria are used for different services which vary in temperature, pressure, ambient conditions, etc. With Engineering Critical Assessment (ECA) acceptance criteria the maximum allowable flaw sizes are determined specifically for the service. This may allow larger imperfections compared to the workmanship acceptance criteria. Though it sounds scary we should understand that the ECA acceptance criteria is developed under operating conditions and extreme environmental conditions specific for the structure. With ECA acceptance criteria the through wall height of the flaw, location of the flaw, surface or subsurface are important. Radiography will provide only the length and width of the flaw not the height of the flaw. Ability of AUT to determine the height, length and location of the flaw make AUT an accepted NDT technique when ECA acceptance criteria is applied. Keywords: Engineering Critical Assessment (ECA), Automated Ultrasonic Testing (AUT), welding, Workmanship Acceptance Criteria, Phased Array and Time of Flight Diffraction Technique. Conclusion Advantages of Engineering Critical Assessment (ECA) in combination With AUT Ability to size the through thickness size of the flaw, location and length with AUT More lenient acceptance criteria compared to workmanship criteria Reduce unnecessary weld repairs Save money, time

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Introduction: Quality of any component including welds joining components are very critical for pressure bearing components e. g. pressure vessels, piping etc. particularly in the Oil & Gas Industry. Whether it is an Oil refinery, Petrochemical, Oil & gas exploration offshore platform or cross country or subsea pipeline, all of the industries need to cut the cost of repair/ replacement by way of better evaluation criteria rather than a most conservative approach. This is important not only for the newly built plants but also for the plants which are already in service for a long time. Most of the acceptance criteria for NDT are based on the criteria for workmanship. The same acceptance criteria are used for different services which vary in temperature, pressure, ambient conditions, etc. With Engineering Critical Assessment (ECA) acceptance criteria the maximum allowable flaw sizes are determined specifically for the service. This may allow larger imperfections compared to the workmanship acceptance criteria. Though it sounds scary we should understand that the ECA acceptance criteria is developed under operating conditions and extreme environmental conditions specific for the structure. With ECA acceptance criteria the through wall height of the flaw, location of the flaw, surface or subsurface are important. Radiography will provide only the length and width of the flaw not the height of the flaw. Ability of AUT to determine the height, length and location of the flaw make AUT an accepted NDT technique when ECA acceptance criteria are applied. Engineering Critical Assessment (ECA): When it is necessary to critically evaluate the acceptability of engineering components/ structures by the use of Non-Destructive Examination, establishment of prior acceptance levels are also a mandatory requirement. Generally, the acceptance of flaws are based on their location and size and moreover the proposed use of the component. This is where the Fitness for Service criteria come in to picture. This is generally defined as the criteria by which a fabrication/ component is considered to be adequate for its purpose of service, provided the conditions to cause failure are not reached during its intended service period. There two distinct ways of evaluating the acceptability of the fabrication/ component, the most commonly used one is based on Quality control or workmanship criteria. The other one is Fitness for Purpose or Fitness for Service criteria. Quality control/workmanship based acceptance levels are both arbitrary and conservative and mainly based on Industry experience. Anyway these criteria have been used successfully over the years. They are having considerable value in the monitoring and maintenance of quality during production. Flaws that are evaluated as less severe than the current application standard in accordance with workmanship based criteria do not require any further evaluation. However

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if the flaws are evaluated as more severe (or not acceptable) than the current application standard, may not be necessarily rejected; rather a fitness for purpose analysis can be performed based on Engineering Critical Assessment. This will allow the manufacturer & Owner more flexibility for acceptance without compromising the quality of the component. Here, we would like to discuss the importance of flaw assessment and sizing by Automated Ultrasonic testing and its role in ECA. 3. Overview of ECA: Prior to apply the ECA for a engineering component, there are few things to be understood and implemented. Some of the information is essential for the assessment of the acceptability. Few details are given below: 3.1 Type of flaws (e.g. Planer; Non-planer or shape imperfection) 3.2 Modes of failure & material damage mechanism (e. g. Fracture/plastic collapse; fatigue; creep/creep fatigue; leakage of containment; corrosion/erosion; environmentally assisted cracking and instability/buckling) 3.3 Other Essential information: 3.3.1 Nature, position and orientation of flaws. 3.3.2 Structural & weld geometry; fabrication procedure. 3.3.3 Stresses (Pressure, thermal, residual or any other from any type of mechanical loading) 3.3.4 Yield stress/ proof stress, tensile stress & elastic modulus. Sometimes, depending on situations, a complete engineering stress/ strain curve is required. 3.3.5 Fatigue, corrosion fatigue, SN curve and/or crack propagation data. 3.3.6 Fracture toughness (KIc or J values or CTOD). 3.3.7 Creep rupture, creep crack propagation and creep fatigue data. 3.3.8 Bulk corrosion and stress corrosion data. 3.4 Non-Destructive Testing: Non-destructive testing is an essential part of ECA. The NDT techniques to be used for flaw evaluation should be chosen to provide type of information required to an acceptable degree of accuracy. Such information should include some or all of the following: 3.4.1 Flaw length 3.4.2 Flaw height 3.4.3 Flaw location 3.4.4 Flaw orientation with respect to the principal stress direction. 3.4.5 Flaw type (planer; volumetric; surface; sub-surface). The degree of accuracy varies on the methodology adopted for flaw characterization and evaluation. For surface breaking or near surface flaws, magnetic particle, Liquid Penetrant and/ or Eddy current & ACFM techniques can provide important information. For embedded (internal) flaws Conventional NDT methods like radiography and ultrasonic can be used with moderate accuracy. ECA & AUT: Engineering critical assessment is highly dependent on the accuracy of sizing flaws by the non-destructive test methods. This is where automated NDT comes into the picture. During the past few years, there is a considerable improvement in the automated NDT particularly in ultrasonic testing for embedded flaws. Specifically ultrasonic Phased arrays and ToFD have gained considerable importance in the field of automated NDT, although the methods of Phased array and ToFD are not new. The most important thing of the automated methods of ultrasonic testing is that they have high accuracy, reliability and repeatability. Why AUT is preferred? Conclusion.

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