Pipeline Corrosion

Pipeline corrosion is the deterioration of pipe material and the related system due to its interaction with the working environment. It affects pipeline and accessories made of both metals and non-metals. Pipeline corrosion—and the related catastrophic failures that it can cause—cost billions of dollars to the economy. A study released by the U.S. Federal Highway Administration in 2002 estimated that the direct cost of corrosion in the United States was $276 billion each year, or about 3% of the nation's GDP.

The corrosion process

Corrosion of most pipelines occurs due to an electrochemical reaction in the presence of an electrolyte. The electrochemical nature of the process also facilitates the detection and mitigation of this deterioration, which is accomplished by monitoring the voltages and the currents associated with the corrosion rate.

The rate of corrosion of a piping system is generally related to external and internal factors. External factors include a working environment of pipes, soil chemistry and moisture for buried pipes or water chemistry in the case of submerged pipes. Internal factors that contribute to corrosion may include:
  • The oxygen content or reactivity of liquids and gases carried
  • The use of dissimilar metals within the piping system
  • The temperature, flow rate and pressure of the fluids and gases
Types of pipeline corrosion

There are a few different types of corrosion.

-  Uniform Pipe Corrosion
As the name indicates, uniform pipe corrosion causes uniform loss of the material along the surface of the pipe, resulting in a continuous thinning of its solid structure. The rate of reaction is measured by the depth of penetration of the surface in millimeters per year. By selecting a suitable piping material and a combination of corrosion protection methods such as cathodic protection as well as surface coatings, it is possible to prevent this type of deterioration.

- Pitting Corrosion
Pitting corrosion is the severe, localized deterioration of a limited surface area, leading to cavity formation, or pits, on a pipe's surface. In some cases, these pits may puncture the pipe. The reasons for pitting corrosion include:
  • Pipe material defects or surface defects
  • Mechanical damage to the protective passive film
  • Penetration by an aggressive chemical species, such as chlorides
This type of corrosion is frequently found in passive metal alloys and metals, such as aluminum or even stainless steel. Pits normally vary in shape and depth. Improper material selection for piping can be one of the causes.This corrosion can be prevented by:
  • Selecting a pipe material for the specific service environment, such as the temperature and chemical concentration of a reactant (resistant to pitting)
  • Devising cathodic or anodic protection
Pitting corrosion
Source: http://www.merusonline.com/images/stories/Specific/pitting.jpg
 -  Selective Leaching
Selective leaching, or graphitic corrosion, occurs when a noble metal and a more reactive element form an alloy. This may result in the loss of the reactive element from the pipeline's surface, causing loss of strength and premature failure. A typical example of this is the removal of nickel, cobalt or zinc from copper alloys. This can result in color changes or changes in density in the affected material. The addition of aluminum or tin can, in some cases, provide protection from leaching.

Selective leaching corrosion
Source: http://www.performancewire.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Selective-Leaching.jpg
-  Galvanic Corrosion
Galvanic corrosion occurs when dissimilar alloys or metals of different corrosion potentials are connected electrically. In this case, only the metal working as an anode with respect to the other will deteriorate. This reaction can be prevented by using a combination of metals that are closer in the galvanic series, and by placing insulation between the two. Coating of the cathodic surface will also help.
Galvanic corrosion
Source: http://www.performancewire.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Galvanic-Corrosion-.jpg
-  Crevice Corrosion
Crevice corrosion is caused by an accelerated reaction at joints and other crevices of a pipeline due to differential oxygen availability. The surfaces starved of oxygen become the anode in an electrochemical reaction. Replacing riveted joints with welded joints can help overcome such problems.

Crevice corrosion
Source: http://www.ssina.com/corrosion/crevice-pitting_clip_image004.jpg
 Intergranular Deterioration
Intergranular deterioration refers to the selective deterioration at a surface's grain boundaries (due to high temperature) when the grain boundary reaches high activity, which is prone to corrosion. Heat treatment and welding heat can cause this transformation, leading to corrosion. This problem can be prevented by selecting extra-low carbon stainless steel materials.

Intergranular deterioration
Source: http://www.performancewire.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Intergranular-.jpg

Cavitation and Erosive Corrosion
Cavitation damage occurs in a pipeline when the fluid’s working pressure drops below its vapor pressure, leading to the formation of vapor pockets and vapor bubbles that collapse at the internal surface of pipeline. This can also lead to erosive corrosion. Parts of pipelines such as pump suctions, discharge pipes, elbows, tees or expansions or fitments at heat exchangers—even valve seats—may be extremely prone to this damage under certain operational conditions.

Cavitation can be prevented at the design stage by reducing fluid pressure gradients and excessive pressure drops in the range of the vapor pressure of the liquid, as well as ensuring zero air ingress. Coatings can also reduce the rate of material loss.

Erosion corrosion is due to the relative movement of fluid and the inner surface of the pipe. Fluid turbulence can result in a rapid rise in erosion rates. Poorly finished internal pipe surfaces or pits that may form can disturb smooth fluid flow, leading to localized fluid turbulence. This can result in a high erosion rate. A combination of cavitation, erosion and corrosion—at a high temperature or high pressure—can lead to very severe pitting corrosion.

The addition of chromium or molybdenum to steel can improve the corrosion protection in this case.

Stray Current Corrosion
Stray current corrosion is caused by the flow of stray currents through pipelines. This can cause localized pitting and pin holes on metal surfaces at the precise points where stray currents leave the surface.
Sources of stray electricity include:
  • High voltage overhead or buried lines nearby
  • Electric railways
  • Electric welding machines
  • Earthed DC source
  • Cathodic protection
Damage can be reduced by controlling electricity leakages, bypassing stray current to an earthing station or the use of an additional protective system.

Stray current corrosion
Source: http://www.qualitymarineservices.net/images/DSC03202.jpg
 Stress Corrosion Cracking
Stress corrosion damage is the growth of pre-existing cracks in corrosive conditions. It can lead to the sudden failure of ductile metal pipes under tensile stress, particularly at higher temperatures. Cracks grow rapidly in the case of alloys, but failure occurs only if the amount of stress exceeds a specific threshold level. Therefore, preventive measures for stress corrosion cracking include limiting the loads to ensure they are below threshold stress levels.

Stress Corrosion Cracking
Source: http://met-tech.com/images/preheater-tube-failure-4.jpg

Protecting pipelines from corrosion

Studying the mode of corrosion damage of a particular pipeline aids in the determination of the root cause of corrosion, and a suitable solution. Corrosion can be minimized by selecting suitable systems and materials at the design stage. Cathodic protection systems facilitate the continuous monitoring of pipelines. While planning new pipelines, the advanced methods of monitoring and protection should be incorporated.



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  4. but what about corrosion that we found in many types of valves in industries

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