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Corrosion Case Study

Flare knockout drum

High Velocity Thermal Spray

Reduced life cycle cost


and effective risk mitigation

TA impact - 144 hours


Life cycle saving – $3.9M

Process Overview
Knock out vessels are used to slow down gasses and allow liquids to fall
out of the gas stream ahead of the flaring system. Knock out drums can
be installed either in the waste gas header, or in the flare stack base
itself. Water and oil drains with level controls are used to ensure that
liquids are drained from the drum and allow gas to proceed to the flare
Cladding of lower section
stack or for additional recovery.
of drum

Integrity Limiting Corrosion


Due to variability in feed entering the flare knock out system, it is
not always possible to directly determine the primary corrosion bad
actors. In addition to H2S, other sulfur compounds and even
elemental sulfur can be found. Chlorides (CaCl2, MgCl2 and NaCl) in
addition to wet carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide and amines can
result in high corrosion rates. Highest corrosion rates typically occur
in the lower section of drums, between the 4 and 8 o’clock
positions. In spite of post-fabrication heat treatment, the weld
areas around nozzles are highly prone to aggressive metal loss.

Prior Mitigation Strategies


Prior strategies for the protection of the class of vessels have included the use of
polymeric coating systems, vessel section replacement and complete vessel
replacement. Limitations exist with respect to the long term durability of the liquid epoxy
systems, with premature failure and shell loss occurring prior to the next TA. This
necessitates difficult repair, and negative impact on craft availability. Weather conditions
and curing time can necessitate additional environmental controls for effective curing.
Turnaround time limitations have limited section and vessel replacement.

Surface Protection Solutions for


Mission Critical Equipment
Corrosion Case Study

High Velocity Thermal Spray (HVTS) – New Application Technology


In the lower section of a flare knockout drum in a 2 billion cubic feet per day gas processing facility, metal loss around
nozzle penetrations and in other areas of the shell had resulted in corrosion rates of 4-5mm in 6 years. Prior polymeric
coatings had failed. Although the vessel was adequately heat treated post fabrication from manufacturing records,
given the mode of failure, particularly in areas adjacent to welds, IGS was contracted to employ a newly qualified
technology to apply a corrosion resistant metal coating to the internal surface to stop further corrosive attack. 390sqft
of shell was protected. The operation was completed with 3 technicians in 96 hours.

Turnaround Decision Process - Risk Mitigation


The drum was extensively evaluated after significant shell damage had been determined. As the damage had occurred
in a relatively short operating period, considerable concern was expressed with respect to repairing with like material
through section replacement and post weld heat treatment. Additionally, some of the areas requiring work were
adjacent to the drum saddles, making section repair particularly difficult. Too much shell loss had occurred for the area
to be left alone and prior experience with liquid coating systems was unsatisfactory. Furthermore, final inspection
findings were only determined 7 days into the turnaround, and a repair decision required selecting a method that could
be completed in the remaining 7 days for activity prior to box up activity. An HVTS corrosion resistant metal cladding
was selected as this had no impact on the pressure bearing material of the shell and had no cure time. Prior to the
metal application, surface profile grinding was conducted to open up pitted surfaces so that an acceptable surface was
available for coating. This grinding action took 24 hours, the HVTS coating process took 96 hours. Final inspection,
mapping and destructive testing of concurrently produced test plates took 24 hours.

Inspection / Integrity Assessment


Final inspection of the work scope involved the generation of an electronic thickness record with mapped
electromagnetic stand-off gage readings on a defined reference grid across the area coated. This record was used for
later inspection to confirm that after 4 years in service no material loss had occurred. Additional inspection technologies
that were developed for external, on-line verification of the coating condition by through vessel wall scanning were
also used. These verified that no delamination or separation had occurred. HVTS coating systems can be readily
inspected visually for any signs of deterioration without a need to high pressure water blast, sandblast or mechanically
abrade coating for inspection purposes. Unlike organic coating systems, HVTS metal coatings are long term durable
solutions with high mechanical toughness, abrasion resistance and wide service temperature and pressure ranges. This
substantially decreases life cycle cost and can extend required inspection intervals.

Value Proposition
As with other TA inspection driven activity, IGS’s ability to provide advanced alloy cladding protection to the vessel
shell within the remaining hours and limit the likelihood of turnaround extension was a key decision factor for the
client. The only other viable repair method available for the drum was a section replacement. The likelihood of an
effective weld overlay solution, given the corrosion experience, was deemed too risky. The position of the section
requiring replacement was significantly complicated from both a mechanical and post weld heat treatment perspective
due to the location of drum saddles with doubler plates in the area. The use of a high velocity thermal spray process
was deemed more economical when compared to this strategy due to the turnaround time sensitivity and the potential
for a necessary additional 6 day open, clean, inspect turnaround. Total life cycle cost savings compared to section
replacement of $3,900,000 were realized with HVTS application due to opportunity cost.

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