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How do I assess the structural integrity of corroded regions at welds?


Frequently Asked Questions

The effect of loss of thickness due to corrosion or erosion at welds can be considered using existing procedures (see Further information, below: 'How should I assess the structural integrity of corroded regions?'). However, relatively little research has been done to confirm how conservative these procedures are for welds. Brittle fracture is particularly important at welds because corrosion can expose crack-like flaws such as lack of sidewall fusion, thereby increasing the risk of failure.

There is also concern that the locally high stresses associated with irregular corrosion damage could induce cleavage at locally brittle zones. To prevent this, the fracture toughness properties of the weld and heat affected zone need to be sufficient to avoid the risk of brittle fracture. It is therefore recommended that the methods used for assessing corrosion, described in Annex G of BS7910 [1] , are not used with flash welds, low frequency electrical resistance welds, or welds with particularly coarse microstructures such as electron beam welding, unless adequate toughness can be demonstrated. It is also recommended that the corroded welds should be thoroughly inspected to avoid the presence of flaws to ensure the component is 'fit for purpose'.

Note Annex G of BS7910 stipulates the procedure is not valid for:

i) Material of thickness greater than 12.7mm unless the full-scale initiation transition temperature is below the operating temperature
ii) Defects in mechanical joints fabricated, formed or cast fittings
iii) Lap welded or furnace butt welded pipe
iv) Sharp defects combining corrosion and cracks
v) Fabrication defects in welds

The provisions are largely to remove the risk of brittle fracture. If brittle fracture cannot be excluded, then it is conservative to assess the corroded region using the fracture assessment procedures of BS7910, assuming that the locally thinned region is equivalent to a planar defect.

Other than the risk of brittle fracture, the effect of mismatch between the weld and line-pipe strength should be considered. Weldments are usually designed to have overmatching strength compared with the parent material. Overmatching should improve the component’s resistance to plastic collapse, increasing the conservatism of the methods described in Reference 1 when they are applied to metal loss at a weld.


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