You are on page 1of 8


No 3-1985

All rights reserved. Comments and correspondence can be directed to Dr Sten Nordin, Avesta Projects AB, P.O. Box 557, S-651 09 Karlstad, Sweden. Tel. +46 (0)54-10 27 70. Telex 66108 apab s. Telefax +46(0)54-18 82 54.

Optimization of High-Pressure Piping in Reverse Osmosis Plants

by Sten Nordin, Avesta Projects AB, P.O. Box 557, S-651 09 Karlstad, Sweden, Bengt Walln, Avesta AB, Research & Development, S-774 01 Avesta, Sweden, and Bernt Eriksson, VBB-SWECO, P.O. Box 5038, S-102 41, Stockholm, Sweden

When selecting materials for the high pressure piping in reverse osmosis seawater desalination plants many considerations must be made. The corrosion resistance in seawater is of outmost importance for safe and reliable service. In this respect stainless steel UNS S31254 is fully resistant to localized corrosion under the conditions at hand whereas stainless steel AISI 316L has exhibited questionable behaviour. An analysis of the mechanical properties shows that the superior mechanical properties of UNS S31254 makes it possible to reduce wall thickness in the high-pressure section of seawater plants. Estimations of the final costs for installed piping show that the premium to be paid for using the fully corrosion resistant piping material UNS S31254 will be only about ten percent above the price for AISI 316L.

Stainless steels have many desirable properties. In the environments existing in RO desalination plants they have a very low uniform corrosion rate and they are very resistant to erosion corrosion. There are many types of stainless steels, however, and the span in corrosion properties is very large. In this paper the corrosion properties of one of the most resistant grades will be discussed with special emphasis on the conditions existing in RO desalination plants.

The mechanisms for crevice and pitting corrosion are closely related and alloys possessing good crevice corrosion properties will also have a good pitting resistance. It has been known for a long time that chromium and, above all, molybdenum have a positive effect on the pitting and crevice corrosion resistance of stainless steels. By introducing the concept "Wirksumme"=%Cr+ 3.3 x %Mo an attempt has been made to establish a measure of the pitting resistance (1). According to this expression molybdenum is a considerably more powerful alloying element than chromium. A strongly positive effect of nitrogen was also observed quite early, e.g. by Steensland (2). It was not until recently, however, that the effect of nitrogen was quantified. According to Herbsleb (3) and Garner (4) the "Wirksumme" expression should be completed with a very high factor for the nitrogen content. For molybdenum alloyed austenitic stainless steels these authors state a factor 30 and 27 x % N respectively. Thus, nitrogen is a very important alloying element.

Avesta 254 SMO UNS S31254

In the early seventies Avesta saw the need for a stainless steel possessing better corrosion properties than the conventional stainless steels, but still being weldable in all gauges. The steel was to fill the great gap existing between the conventional grades and more exotic materials like Ni-Cr-Mo alloys and titanium. The development work resulted in Avesta 254 SMO which became commercially available in 1977. It soon became evident that the demands on the new steel were only met by an austenitic steel with a very high molybdenum content. Similar steels were already known but optimization of the composition gave Avesta 254 SMO superior corrosion properties and, not less important, made the steel available in a variety of product forms. The steel meets eleven ASTM specifications under the designation UNS S31254 and is covered by ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code Section VIII, Div 1. The delivery programme includes welded and seamless tube and pipe, sheet, strip, bar, plate up to 50 mm, wire, forgings and castings. Welding material was developed parallel with the steel. Initially the conventional philosophy was applied. It soon turned out, however, that the corrosion resistance of these welds, for reasons explained in later chapters, was inferior to that of the base metal. As a consequence, a filler metal more highly alloyed than the base metal was developed. Sufficiently high corrosion resistance could only be achieved by using a nickel base alloy and the filler metal recommended, Avesta P12, contains mainly 21 % chromium and 9 % molybdenum.

Field tests in natural seawater

There are numerous accelerated laboratory tests for evaluating the crevice and pitting corrosion resistance and many of these have been applied on UNS S31254 (5, 6). These accelerated tests have a merit in ranking the corrosion resistance of different alloys or of different states of the same alloy. However, they are doubtful for predicting the behaviour of an alloy in a natural environment such as seawater (7). In the following we will therefore restrict ourselves to field tests performed in natural seawater.

Filtered water
A series of exposures have been made in Atlantic Ocean water at LCCT, LaQue Center for Corrosion Technology, Harbour Island, on the US East Coast. In these tests welded specimens (100X150 mm) were used. The steel grades tested and the welding methods are shown in table 1. Each specimen was equipped with two continuous crevice washers made of acetal resin. The washers, which were bolted to the surface using a torque of 8.5 Nm, made contact with weld, heat affected zone and base metal.

Crevice and pitting corrosion

Influence of alloying elements
When highly alloyed stainless steels are exposed to chloride solutions the most dangerous types of corrosion are crevice and pitting corrosion. This is true for all kinds of chloride solutions, except the most acidic ones, at least up to the boiling point. However, crevice corrosion occurs under milder conditions than pitting on bare surfaces. In a practical construction, crevices will always exist e.g. between tubes and tube plates, under gaskets, deposits and marine fouling. Therefore the crevice corrosion resistance is the major factor in determining which alloy should be selected for use in seawater.

Table 1: Identification of welded specimens tested in Atlantic Ocean water. Welding according to Avesta recommendations.
Speci- Steel men grade No A B C D E F G AISI 316 N08904 S31254 S31254 S31254 S31254 S31254 Thickness, mm 3 3 0.8 3 3 15 15 Welding Method Filler metal SMAW SMAW GTAW GMAW SMAW GMAW SMAW Type 316 Type N08904 P12 P12 P12 P12 Remark

Annealed 1150C

acom No. 3-85

3 In the first tests the specimens were exposed to filtered seawater at 25 and 70C. The results are presented in table 2. The two conventional stainless steels were attacked by crevice corrosion at both temperatures although to a much greater extent in the cold water. UNS S31254 was very resistant and showed evidence of slight crevice corrosion on only one of 30 specimens. Some of the results in the last two tests have been reported a second time (10). By multiplying the number of specimen sides showing any attack with the maximum depth of attack an index is created which is said to allow for conclusions regarding the effect of alloying elements.

Table 2: Crevice corrosion in filtered Atlantic Ocean water. Velocity <0.1 m/s.
Speci- Steel men grade No A B C D E F G AISI 316 N08904 S31254 S31254 S31254 S31254 S31254 25C, 3 months Attacked Max specidepth mens mm 3 out of 3 3 out of 3 0 out of 3 0 out of 3 0 out of 3 0 out of 3 0 out of 3 1.1 1.5 Nil Nil Nil Nil Nil 70C, 6 months Attacked Max specidepth mens mm 3 out of 3 3 out of 3 1 out of 3 0 out of 3 0 out of 3 0 out of 3 0 out of 3 0.08 0.03 <0.01 Nil Nil Nil Nil

Ambient water
The exposures described so far have been in filtered seawater. In the industry unfiltered seawater is probably of greater practical importance. In this water marine macrofouling easily occurs on the test specimens forming another type of crevice than that formed by plastic washers. Two long term exposures were performed at the same test site as in the preceeding tests. The test conditions were the same except that unfiltered, ambient temperature seawater was used. The test results, separately reported for the two types of crevices, are shown in table 3. In the 18 months' exposure the two conventional stainless steels were attacked by severe crevice corrosion in both types of crevices. UNS S31254 was not affected at all by the fouling but received slight crevice corrosion under the plastic washers in two out of twelve specimens. In the 40 months' exposure only UNS S31254 was tested, the behaviour being much the same as in the 18 months' exposure. The propagation rate of the deepest crevice attacks was abt 0.06 mm/year in both exposures. There was no preferential attack in weld or heat affected zone in either exposure. Another test was carried out in a power plant situated at the Swedish West Coast. In this case the test specimens consisted of two tubes (OD 74 mm) joined together by an outer tube (ID 75 mm) which was welded (SMA, Avesta P12) onto the outside of the inner tubes. Three such tubes were exposed for one year in the cooling system of the power plant. In spite of the stagnant conditions existing between the tubes and in spite of the non-treated inside of the welds, there was no corrosion. In the same kind of test the weld of a highly alloyed ferritic stainless steel was severely attacked by crevice corrosion (11).

Two tests, very similar to the proceeding ones, have recently been reported (8,9). In these tests exposures were made in filtered seawater from the same test site at the US East Coast and the specimens were equipped with the same kind of crevice washers and applied with the same torque. The specimens were not welded, however, and the seawater temperature was 30C. In one of these tests 45 alloys were exposed for 1 month (8). Some highly alloyed ferritic steels behaved very well but among the austenitic and ferritic-austenitic alloys only Alloy 625 and Alloy C-276 were completely resistant. However, the degree of crevice attack on UNS S31254 and the nickel base Alloy G was reported as negligible. In the other test 13 stainless steels were exposed for 1-3 months (9). All but one very highly alloyed ferritic steel were attacked by crevice corrosion. Obviously, filtered seawater is more corrosive at 30C than at 25C.

Table 3: Crevice corrosion in Atlantic Ocean water. Ambient temperature (5-30C). Natural fouling conditions.
Specimen No A B D E F G Steel grade AISI 316 UNS N08904 UNS S31254 UNS S31254 UNS S31254 UNS S31254 Attacked specimens 3 out of 3 3 out of 3 0 out of 3 0 out of 3 1 out of 3 1 out of 3 18 months Max depth, mm Fouling >3 1.1 Nil Nil Nil Nil Attacked specimens 0 out of 3 1 out of 3 1 out of 3 0 out of 3 40 months Max depth, mm Fouling Nil Nil Nil Nil

Plastic 2.9 1.1 Nil Nil 0.09 0.01

Plastic Nil Nil 0.18 Nil

acom No. 3-85

Influence of welding
Welding of highly alloyed stainless steels might decrease their corrosion resistance independent of the microstructure of the steel. Weld metal of high molybdenum austenitic stainless steels could have a decreased pitting and crevice corrosion resistance when compared with the base metal of the same composition. In fact, a decreased weld resistance has been reported even for conventional steels like AISI 316. This is explained by microsegregations originating from the solidification of the weld metal. When welded with a filler metal of the same composition as the base metal the molybdenum content in the depleted areas may be as low as 4.8 % in UNS S31254. On the other hand when UNS S31254 is welded with Avesta P12 filler metal the lowest molybdenum content in the weld metal is around 7 %.

entire high pressure pipe system, connectors etc. in RO plants for desalination of seawater or highly saline groundwater. A corrosion test by VBB-SWECO in the Middle East in 1982 cited below exemplifies this. Six stainless steel test specimens of type 316, four of type UNS N08904 and four of type UNS S31254, 60 X 60 mm by size, were exposed under and above the surface of the local seawater in the Arabian Gulf at ambient temperatures. The specimens were fitted in multi crevice assemblies of Delrin plastic. Four of the type 316 specimens exposed above the water level and two of the type UNS N08904 as well as UNS S31254 submerged into the seawater were evaluated by the Swedish Corrosion Institute. The results of the evaluation, which was carried out by weighing and visual examination of the test specimens, are summarized in table 5.

Table 4: Influence of welding on critical pitting temperatures of UNS S31254 in 10 % FeCl3. According to Garner (12). Welding Method Base metal GTAW SMAW P12 Filler metal CPT C 87.5 32.5 62.5

Table 5: Evaluation of test specimens exposed between January 1st and October 15th 1982 above and below the seawater level in the Arabian Gulf. Steel grade Corrosion Crevice Corrosion rate, Max Number 2 mg/m h depth, attacked* mm 0.1 <0.1 27 0.1 <0.1 39 0 <0.1 8 0 <0.1 6 0 <0.1 8 0 0 0 <0.1 0 0 0 2 0 Pitting Max depth, mm 0 0 0 0 <0.1 0 0 0

The data presented in table 4, from an investigation by Garner, illustrate the influence of welding on the pitting corrosion resistance (12). The high CPT of UNS S31254 is considerably reduced when welding is carried out without filler metal. However, the use of Avesta P12 restores much of the corrosion resistance. It should be observed that 62.5C is a high CPT even compared with that of unwelded base metal of other stainless steels. When UNS S31254 is autogeneously welded, i.e. GTAW without filler metal, the welded objects normally have to be solution annealed at 1150C. This treatment adequately disperses the microsegregations and restores the corrosion properties of the weld metal. As shown in the field tests reported UNS S31254 has an excellent crevice and pitting corrosion resistance when welded according to Avesta's recommendations. Although the influence of different welding methods on the corrosion resistance is easily detected in accelerated laboratory tests, field tests show that UNS S31254, when welded according to recommendations, is not preferentially attacked in the weld or in the heat affected zone under any circumstances. On the other hand, when not welded according to our recommendations, the weld metal might be more prone to corrosion but only in the presence of very tight plastic crevices. Crevice corrosion under marine fouling and pitting corrosion on bare surfaces have never been found.

316** 316** 316 weld 316 weld UNS N08904 UNS N08904 weld UNS S31254 UNS S31254 weld

* of max 40 crevices ** exposed above water level, other test specimens were exposed fully submerged in the seawater

In spite of being exposed only above the water level, distinct crevice corrosion attacks were found on the specimens of type 316. This attack would of course have been much more severe on seawater submerged specimens. On the non-welded specimens, which form a wider contact area with the Delrin washers than the welded coupons, up to 39 of 40 possible crevices were attacked. Of the two steel grades exposed under fully submerged conditions UNS S31254 was completely free of attack whereas slight crevice corrosion in 8 of 40 possible crevices was detected on UNS N08904. Some very shallow pits were also seen on non-creviced surfaces of the last mentioned steel. The evaluation reveals that the high alloy steel UNS S31254 is the only one without any corrosion attack of the stainless steels tested during 10 months in the Middle East. The result is in good agreement with earlier experiences from seawater service of the steels in question.

The experience from several seawater desalination plants has shown that alloys such as AISI 316 have insufficient pitting and crevice corrosion resistance. Todd and Oldfield (13) have stressed, that in these environments high alloy stainless steels or nickel-base alloys are necessary. It is also VBB-SWECO's experience that high alloy stainless steels, such as UNS S31254, are to be preferred instead of lower grade materials for the

acom No. 3-85

Weight Optimization of Stainless Steel Piping in RO Seawater Desalination Plants

Aspects on weight optimization of pipe materials on offshore rigs have been discussed by Eriksen (14). It is believed that the piping structure in general is oversized with respect to weight. For these installations the piping weight is mainly governed by the flow velocity, as the internal pressure is relatively low. Criteria like resistance against buckling and distortion will more often be decisive for the wall thickness including a minimum thickness for proper welding etc. This results in similar wall thickness for materials of different strength properties. The situation is different for stainless steel grades used for the piping system in the high pressure section of an RO seawater desalination plant. This has been exemplified in the tables 6 and 7.

Stress calculation of piping is normally carried out in accordance with ANSI B 31.1 or ANSI B 31.3, with due consideration taken to the actual material strength properties. According to the latter code the pipe wall thickness is calculated using the following formula: t= PD 2SE

where t = wall thickness, mm 2 P = internal design gage pressure, N/mm D = outside diameter of pipe, mm 2 SE = allowable stress, N/mm , where S = basic allowable stress for materials, excluding casting, joint or structural grade quality factors E = quality factor The allowable stress is the lowest value of either 2/3 of the yield strength or 1/3 of the tensile strength. The former value has been the determining factor. It is obvious from the tables that the yield strength of the material has a great influence on the pipe wall thickness and the cost of materials. In table 6 the pipe wall thickness has been selected from the schedules of nominal thickness contained herein to suit the calculated value to fulfill the conditions for which the pipe is desired. The selected nominal thickness does, accordingly, not need to belong to the schedule ("non-scheduled wall thickness"). In table 7, however, the selected nominal pipe size is according to the schedule ("scheduled wall thickness"). In order to safeguard necessary dimension stability and to contribute to the prevention of overstress, damage, collapse or buckling due to superimposed loads the wall thickness should not be less than given for Schedule 10S in ANSI B 36.19 (ASTM A-312). The results in table 8 (page 6) show that increasing strength properties have a very favourable influence on the material cost. This influence will be less but still important if the total costs of the piping systems are compared. This is because the costs for fabrication and testing, valves and fittings, and installation, are roughly the same regardless of stainless steel grade and wall thickness. It is desirable to arrange the high pressure piping as flexible as possible in order to absorb expansions and contractions due to e.g. temperature variations without utilizing special expansion members. This will not call for heavier pipes than according to tables 6 and 7 but for a proper design of certain fittings viz. tees and branches. Computer aided calculations considering the requirements in ANSI B 31 are necessary in order to evaluate the influence of stresses due to temperature variations.

Table 6: Minimum nominal wall thickness (non-scheduled) at 1,000 psi internal pressure for RO seawater desalination (according to ASTM A-312)
Stainless steel 316L Type 317 UNS N08904 UNS S31254 Yield Tensile strength strength N/mm2 N/mm2 170 205 220 300 485 515 490 650 Nom. pipe size 4" 6" 12" Nom. wall thickness, mm 3.56 3.05 3.05 3.05 5.08 4.55 3.91 3.40 10.97 8.18 7.62 5.54

Note: The weld factor is assumed to be 1 in the calculation of allowable stress.

Table 7: Scheduled nominal wall thickness at 1,000 psi internal pressure for RO desalination (according to ASTM A-312)
Stainless Steel 316L Type 317 UNS N08904 UNS S31254 Nom. pipe size 4" 6" 12" Schedule number 40S 10S 10S 10S 40S 40S 40S 10S 80S 40S 40S 40S Nom. pipe size 4" 6" 12" Nom. wall thickness, mm 6.02 3.05 3.05 3.05 7.11 7.11 7.11 3.40 12.70 9.52 9.52 9.52

The flow velocity has been set to 2 m/s for the actual piping system from a hydraulic point of view. This is considerably lower compared to the limit based on erosion which is about 7 m/s for stainless steel and 3 m/s for Cu-Ni. The latter limit will, however, give rise to undesirable secondary effects in the exemplified piping systems, such as vibrations, noise etc. in tees and pipe bends. The maximum allowable pressure drop is, besides the maximum permissible flow velocity, dependent on the energy cost that can be accepted for the specific type of plant during the planned operation time.

acom No. 3-85

6 Table 8: System cost ratio for RO high pressure piping (1,000 psi) in seawater desalination with different grades of stainless steel. (Calculations based on ASTM A-312).
Non-scheduled wall thickness (cf Table 6) 316L Piping item: Pipe size: Pipes, according to weight I l+ll l+ll+lll I+II+III+IV=TOTAL 4" 1.0 1.0 1.0 1.0 1.0 6" 1.0 1.0 1.0 1.0 1.0 12" 1.0 1.0 1.0 1.0 1.0 4" 1.40 1.20 1.10 1.07 1.05 Type 317 6" 1.40 1.25 1.13 1.08 1.06 12" 1.40 1.05 1.03 1.02 1.01 4" 2.45 2.11 1.56 1.37 1.28 UNS N08904 6" 2.45 1.90 1.45 1.30 1.23 12" 2.45 1.73 1.37 1.24 1.18 4" 2.70 2.32 1.66 1.44 1.33 UNS S31254 6" 2.70 1.82 1.41 1.27 1.21 12" 2.70 1.39 1.20 1.13 1.10

Scheduled waII thickness (cf Table7) 316L Piping item: Pipe size: I l+ll l+ll+lll I+II+III+IV=TOTAL 4" 1.0 1.0 1.0 1.0 6" 1.0 1.0 1.0 1.0 12" 1.0 1.0 1.0 1.0 4" 0.73 0.87 0.91 0.93 Type 317 6" 1.40 1.20 1.13 1.10 12" 1.06 1.03 1.02 1.02 4" 1.28 1.14 1.09 1.07 UNS N08904 6" 2.45 1.73 1.48 1.36 12" 1.86 1.43 1.29 1.22 4" 1.41 1.21 1.14 1.10 UNS S31254 6" 1.32 1.16 1.11 1.08 12" 2.05 1.53 1.35 1.26

I= Materials, II= Fabrication and testing, III= Valves and fittings, IV= Installation price. Note: The price for non-scheduled pipe materials (cf Table 6) might be somewhat higher than the corresponding price for scheduled pipe materials (cf Table 7).

The results of the calculations and evaluation in tables 6, 7 and 8 can be summarized as follows: - The strength properties of stainless steel, particularly the yield strength, have a very marked influence on the pipe wall thickness and material cost in the high pressure section of an RO seawater desalination plant. - The results of the optimization studies show that the cost difference of the installed piping system with a higher grade of stainless steel is relatively small compared to stainless steel type 316L, e.g. only about ten percent higher for UNS S31254 (cf table 8). - The influence of the yield strength on the total cost for the piping system is less but still important. - The total cost difference between pipe systems with scheduled and non-scheduled, but nominal, wall thickness is relatively small on the average (cf table 8). - Arranging the pipework flexible enough to absorb thermal expansions without utilizing special expansion members will not have any significant influence on the cost ratio relations for the different grades of stainless steel piping systems (cf table 8).

1 Lorenz K, Mdawar G, Thyssenforschung 1, 1969, 3, p.97. 2 Steensland O, Anti-Corrosion, May 1968, p.8. 3 Herbsleb G, Werkstoffe und Korrosion 33, 1982, p.334. 4 Garner A, Pulp & Paper Research Institute of Canada, Personal communication, 1983. 5 Walln B, Liljas M, Olsson J, Materials Performance, June 1982, p.40. 6 Walln B, Proceedings of the Second BSE-NACE Corrosion Conference, p. 140, Jan 19-21, 1981 Bahrain. 7 Kain R M, Corrosion/79, Paper No. 230. 8 Hack H P, Corrosion/82, Paper No. 65. 9 Kain R M, US Department of Energy, Report No. ANL/OTEC-BCM-022. 10 Streicher M A, Corrosion/83, Paper No. 70. 11 Henrikson S, 9th Scandinavian Corrosion Congress, Vol. 1, p.349, Copenhagen, 1983. 12 Garner A, Welding Journal 62, 1983:1, p.27. 13 Todd B, Oldfield J, Int. Maritime Eng. Conference, Bahrain, 1984. 14 Eriksen T, Corrosion Control in Offshore Environment, Uddeholm Technical Seminar, Stavanger, Norway, 1984.

acom No. 3-85

This paper was presented at the SECOND WORLD CONGRESS ON DESALINATION AND WATER RE-USE, November 17-22, 1985, Bermuda.

7 acom is distributed free of charge to persons actively involved in the development of the processing industry and other areas where stainless steels are important. acom appears four times a year, and we welcome your application, as well as additional applications from your friends and colleagues.

Name: ___________________________________________________________ Title: _____________________________________ Company: ________________________________________________________ Position: __________________________________ Mailing address: ______________________________________________________________________________________________ Postcode/City: _______________________________________________________________________________________________ Country: ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ Please, add my name to your address list

acom 3-85

to Dr. Sten Nordin, Avesta Projects AB, P.O. Box 557, S-651 09 KARLSTAD, Sweden

acom No. 3-85