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Thin Wall Titanium Tubes from Power Generation to Desalination

Author: Pascal Gerard Presenter: Pascal Gerard Abstract: Since 1970, Titanium and Stainless steel tubing have been successfully used, within the global power generation market. Both, over the last 35 years, and in particular the titanium, have exhibited excellent service life and have demonstrated an excellent return on investment to the user. In power generation, titanium is used in the condensers, when the cooling water has high level in chlorides. For this application, the tube internal pressure is low, and consequently, engineering reduces the tube wall, first to reduce the tube cost, but also to optimize the global heat exchange, reducing the number of tubes. These points are extremely important with high valued material, and are the key of competitivity and right prices. The utilization of 0.5 mm titanium tubes is today very common, not only in the power generation, but also in MSF or MED desalination processes. The use of 0.4 mm tubes was a dream for a long time, but is now a reality in the power generation, and today, many power plants including nuclear, are now using these thin wall tubes. The utilization of such thin wall tubes can only be successful with a reliable material. A best example is the titanium, which is perfectly corrosion immune in sea water, but also with a reliable tube manufacturing process. This paper reviews the reasons of the choice for titanium, the key points for a reliable 0.4 mm tube manufacture, the experience in the power generation market and the benefices when using such tubes in heat exchanger (desalination) applications.

International Desalination Association World Congress: SP05-076 1

and also today the return of experience. both in desalination. Today. Commercially pure titanium grade 2 is most widely used. More than 14 million meters of tubing are currently installed in plants worldwide. and in condenser power generation. Attention was concentrated upon commercially pure titanium. with grade 7. this material was readily available. Downtime for tube replacement and other outages to repair corrosion damages was excessive. REASONS FOR CHOOSING TITANIUM 2. and for evaporators. which appeared to offer both the corrosion resistance. occured a major campaign with the supply of roughly 5. and the mechanical strength that was required Moreover. and other heat exchangers. the plant has a capacity of 1. This abrasion is also. at the origin of the copper pollution. International Desalination Association World Congress: SP05-076 2 . The MSF plant of St Croix (Virgin islands) was the first desalination plant proceeding with the application of titanium tubes for all exchangers . at the lowest cost. Many studies.I. and partial re-tubing for trials. Titanium is considered today the best cavitation resistant material available for seawater service. 12 or 16.1 Erosion Resistance and Wear For all the tubes in copper alloys (Alu brass. for higher temperature brine heaters. condensers. thin wall titanium welded tubes are now routinely specified for brine heaters with top temperatures up to 130°C. Consequently very high water velocity can be used without any risk for the tubes. and all associated harmful effects. II.5 mgd. In the 1970’s. both for the nature. Cu/Ni…) abrasion is the most detrimental mode. Saudi Arabia. At that time. but also on the humans. in the middle 1960’s . INTRODUCTION After satisfactory laboratory tests.7 million meter of tubes for Al Jubail. problems with corrosion of traditional copper based alloys were placing unacceptable restrictions on plant efficiency. have demonstrated the perfect insensitivity of the titanium versus this degradation mode. most usually grade 2. for the manufacture of welded tubes. unfortunately.

008 Table 1 : Erosion of commercially titanium [3] 2. Pitting corrosion is totally absent with unalloyed titanium. The most severe corrosive conditions for titanium in desalination is crevice corrosion. The crevice corrosion mechanism is similar to that for stainless steels in which oxygen-starved reducing acid conditions develop with tight crevices.013 0. 60 mesh sand Seawater at 2 m/sec with 40 g/l. for temperatures below 130°C.2 Corrosion Resistance in Sea Water 2.2.2 1 AVERAGE CORROSION RATE(mm/Y) 0. 80 mesh emery EROSION (mm/Y) No erosion 0.2 0 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 SAND CONTENT IN SEA WATER(g/l) Figure 1 :Sand erosion resistance of titanium and copper alloys in running seawater FLOW AMOUNT Seawater at 7 m/sec Seawater at 36 m/sec Seawater at 2m/sec with 40g/l. International Desalination Association World Congress: SP05-076 3 . The presence of sulphides in seawater does not affect the resistance to titanium to corrosion.6 CUNI 90/10 AL BRONZE CUNI 70/30 TI 0. 10 mesh emery Seawater at 4.1 m/sec with 4% . Crevices can stem from process stream deposits or scales.8 NAVAL BRASS Al BRASS 0.008 0.003 0. even when marine deposit forms.-1 Pitting and Crevice Corrosion The return of experience has shown that.1.4 0.

4) Excellent return of experience from power generation International Desalination Association World Congress: SP05-076 4 .The crevice corrosion increases with increasing temperature . CREVICE CORROSION COPPER ALLOYS Designation Sulfide attack Mn deposits Corrosive Agent Contributing factor Water pollution Low velocity Deposits + chlorides Unsufficient cleaning Low velocity Ordi High alloy ferr + High alloy aust ++ PITTING CORROSION TITANIUM COPPER ALLOYS Designation Impigement attack Corrosive agent Local erosion or Contributin acid attack g factor of passive layer High water velocity or acidity Compared resistances Adm i --Albr as -CuNi - STAINLES S STEELS Crevice corrosion STAINLESS STEELS Pitting TITANIUM Crevice corrosion never observed in Operation Chlorides Pittings never observed in operation Low water velocity Ord i -High alloy ferr ++ High alloy aust ++ Compared resistances ADMI --- ALB RAS -- CU NI - ADMI : Admiralty brass AlBRAS :Aluminium brass Ordi : ordinary Stainless steels (304. or. Grades 7 and 12 offer resistance to crevice corrosion in seawater at temperatures up to 260°C.2. 3) Reducing the tube wall will also decrease the tube price. Stress corrosion has never been met on titanium tubes.the CCT (critical crevice corrosion temperature )for unalloyed titanium in seawater is 96°C . both in power generation and desalination. the tube life time does not depend on the wall thickness (see here above). III. will decrease the heat exchange surface.2 Stress Corrosion Unalloyed titanium with an oxygen content lower than 0. 2) Reducing the tube wall will increase the heat exchange coefficient.25% are perfectly immune to stress corrosion cracking . INTERESTS OF USING THIN WALL TITANIUM TUBES There is basically 4 main reasons for using thin wall titanium tubes: 1) Thanks to the very good corrosion and erosion resistance. for a given heat exchange power.316) Tables 2 and 3 :Summary of unalloyed Titanium REX (return of experience)after more than 40 years in operation in condenser power generation 2.

WT : Wall thickness in mm 0.7 to 0.5mm. and 20% higher from 0.3.4 0.75 WALL THICKNESS (mm) Figure 2 : Wall thickness thermal resistance evolution The figure 2 gives the evolution of the wall resistance for titanium tubes 25.1 Heat Exchange Heat exchanger codes (HEI for instance) do not currently identify wall gauges less than 0.5 to 0.7 0.6 0.015 0.LN(OD/ID) (close to WT/TC) Where : WTR :Wall thickness thermal resistance in m°C/KW OD : Tube outside diameter in mm ID : Tube inside diameter in mm TC : Material Thermal conductivity in W/m°C.4 mm wall.5 0. WTR= (OD/2TC).3 0.7 to 0.45 0. the global heat exchange coefficient is 7% higher from 0. according to the thermal resistance evolution. neither uncorrected or corrected heat transfer coefficients are available. and the thermal resistance can be easily developed from existing data.4mm.55 0.35 0. International Desalination Association World Congress: SP05-076 5 .4 mm OD with different walls (with a fooling factor=0) From 0.65 0. Consequently.02 0.025 0. The global heat exchange coefficient K is given by : 1/K = 1/HE+(1/HI). However.005 0 0.(OD/ID)+WTR (2) For given internal (Hi)and external (He)heat exchange values. the thermal conductivity of titanium is readily available (22 W/m °C at 20°C) .01 0.4 mm the thermal resistance is reduced by 47%.035 (1) 0.03 THERMAL RESISTANCE (M°C/KW) 0.

length.5 1.8 1.6 1.3 1. wall thickness). The figures 4 and 5 give the evolution of the tube prices/meter according to these different parameters.45 1.2 1.55 0.1 1 19 PRICE EVOLUTION International Desalination Association World Congress: SP05-076 24 29 34 39 6 TUBE DIAMETER (MM) . Figure 4 : Price/meter evolution according to the wall thickness COST VARIATION ACCORDING TO WTH 1. For desalination. for a given heat exchange power.5 to 43mm and wall thickness between 0.4 to 0.4mm 1.7 0. tube lengths are generally between 5 and 25m .1 1.45 0.9 1.3 1.5 1.5 0.4 diameter between 12.7 1.65 0.7 mm.15 1. the tube surface could be reduced in the same proportions.2 1. diameter.25 1.4 1.Consequently.35 relative cost/0.6 0.05 1 0.4 1. 3.2 Tube Price Tube price depends on several parameters (quantity.75 Wall thickness (mm) DIAMETER INFLUENCE ON TUBE PRICE 2 1.

3 0.4mm wall thickness. and generally. located mainly in Europe. C :Conventionnal International Desalination Association World Congress: SP05-076 7 . higher is the tube diameter and higher is the weight/meter. but perfectly detected by ultrasonic test. defect not detected by eddy current. These installations have been in service for over 15 years with no documented problems. however. higher is the ratio diameter/wall thickness. thinner is the gauge. lower are the transformation cost/meter. YEAR 1981 1999 2001 2001 2002 2002 2003 2003 2004 2004 OD KM 5 1308 294 158 288 137 137 493 225 137 DESTINATION France SPAIN GB MALAYSIA VIETNAM Portugal Portugal France France PORTUGAL POWER STATION ** N N C C C C C N N C 17 22 24 24 21 21 21 20 17 21 **N :Nuclear. the main reason is the yield during the tube manufacture. the increase of weight/meter is not in the proportion of the increase of the tube price. the wall thickness has a great influence on the tube price.4mm. and easier is the welding operation. the tube length has few influence on the manufacturing costs.the strip price /Kg is higher. Consequently. of course. consequently. bigger is the tube diameter and higher is the cost/meter. Note: Passing the tube OD from 19 to 38mm increases the tube diameter and the tube surface of 100%. Between 5 and 25m.4 mm titanium tubes. mainly for 2 reasons : 1) The thin gauge tubes are usually welded tubes. In this range of diameter and wall thickness. in condenser for power generation. in both desalination and power plant applications. the main defect met is the « weld mismatch ».4 Mm Wall Tubing: Experience Of The Power Generation Market The Japanese society reported in earlier work successful installations of 0.4mm. but the price/meter is lower The figure 5 shows that for a 0. 2) For 0.As shown by the figure 4. there is an interest of using bigger tube OD. for a price increase of only 90%. and more difficult is the tube manufacture. In this field of range. The table 4 identifies more recent installations in 0. 3.3 and 0.

and it becomes more critical when using thin walls. different solutions have been successfully used.. For new installations the countermeasure is generally an adaptation of the support plate spacing.2 The Tube Vibration This problem is very well known. or covered with.. cathodic protection with impressed current…. We just recall for memory 4. absolutely no problems are declared. This phenomenon is today very known. tube sheet isolation with resins. in a nuclear power station. Today.4mm. and was also in a nuclear power station in Spain. earlier experimental works concluded support plate spacing to be 29’’.A first experimentation was done in 1981 in France.). however. on a total of 3182 km in service. because of the low young modulus of the titanium.1 Cares Linking With the Utilization Of Titanium The cares to be taken when using titanium are very well known. The first large utilization came 18 years after. For 0.1 The Galvanic Coupling The coupling of dissimilar materials may cause a galvanic corrosion of the less noble metal. CARES TO BE TAKEN WHEN USING THIN WALL TITANIUM TUBES 4. International Desalination Association World Congress: SP05-076 8 . Generally.1. and several solutions have been successfully developed to protect the tube sheets (tube sheets in titanium. This is the case when titanium is coupled with another material. VI. with excellent results. titanium is the cathodic member. rigid or expandable antivibration laths are now used with excellent results.1. and today. In case of retrofitting.. and it provokes the dissolution of the other metal (dissolution of the tube sheet around the tubes). 4. it appears today that the support plate spacing shall be closer to 24’’. The corrosion rate will depend on the potential difference.

and drill holes of 22. ultrasonic test and a pneumatic test. TUBE MANUFACTURING Welded titanium tubes are mainly ordered according to ASTM or ASME B338.10mm depth have been successfully used. with 22X0.2 Cares Linking With the Utilization of Thin Walls 4. Pull-out loads (lbs) 4000 3000 2000 1000 0 5 10 15 % wall reduction Mech exp Exp+ ID groove Exp + weld Figure 7 :Tube pull out load tests [5] V.2. and longitudinally TIG welded. these technologies also enhance the pullout strength.To-Tube Sheet Expansion Tube to tube sheet tests were done in 2000 with 22X0. ID grooves employing concentric rings 0.2255mm Five rolls.4mm tubes in the following conditions: Tube sheet: titanium B265 Drill out hole: 22. The raw material is strips. International Desalination Association World Congress: SP05-076 9 . continuously uncoiled.1 Tubesheet and Support Plates To prevent excessive tube-to-tube hole clearance. as well as ID controlled roughness (50 microns Rz).225mm. but it is recommended to deburr and chamfer both sides of the plates. formed in continuous forming mills. 4.4.2 Tube. both eddy current. a titanium tube sheet. which may induce undesirable tube deformation during the rolling operation.2. the TEMA close Fit tolerance is recommended. These specifications require for the non destructive tests. Support plates should be drilled according to standards (HEI for instance).4mm tubes. mechanical expansion with a 7 to 12% wall reduction gives generally good results The results given by the figure 7 were obtained by laboratory tests in 2001. to eliminate or at least minimize any damage initiation on the tubes.

CONCLUSIONS The manufacture of titanium tubes 0.D mc Cue. and dependent from visual acuity and motivation of the operators. J Martin .4 mm wall is today very well masterized and very common. • Air differential test: The best industrial method today. designers were so confident in the reliability of titanium thin wall tubes that they didn’t hesitate to use them. as already done for the power generation. As proven by the excellent REX in the power generation. VI. and consequently independent from operators: The tube is filled with air (generally 7 to 10 bars). Also. Yet.4mm has now been successfully produced according to ASTM B 338. The designers of desalination heat exchangers will evaluate. the test is manual.and an adapted strip forming has to be used . this existing possibility is extremely safe. D Dwyer. REFERENCES 1) Heat transfert tubing selection for MSF desalination plants . One of the most critical point for the manufacture of titanium 0. the following cares are recommended during the tube manufacture: 1) 2) 3) 4) No tube handling :it is better to conveyed the tubes one by one After welding. At that time. because fully automatic. the tubes are NDT inspected. before to being packed in wooden boxes. engineerings have today another possibility to reduce desalination heat exchanger cost. for a number of years. productivity and yields may be considered as fully acceptable. particularly in big nuclear power stations. This test is very sensitive. in addition to ASTM B 338 requirements (Eddy current. to ensure a good quality. so.Then. utilization of special protections at each stage of the manufacture to prevent dents Automatic and 100% OD and ovalization inspection Adaptations of the cutting machines to avoid any tube end ovalization during the cutting –tolength operation. AH Tuthill IDA 1995 2) Condenser operating experience with titanium tube and zinc anodes. if sufficient advantage exists to adopt also this technology. B Todd. the pressure is then measured and compared with a reference. Ultrasonic test. 0. several methods exist to check the tightness of the tubes : • The helium leak test : very good sensitivity.4mm welded tubes. and is able to detect leak rates between 1 to 10 Pa/sec with a pressure of 7 bars. 5) An important quality criteria for the tubes is the tightness : It is evident that all tubes have to be perfectly tight . pneumatic test…). and then isolated. but unrealistic in the practice. but long and expensive • Air under water pneumatic test: theorically good. with high OD/Wth ratio is the strip forming . International Desalination Association World Congress: SP05-076 10 . CD Hornburg. VII.

D J Schumerth 5) Thin wall titanium condenser tubing: The next plateau . first choice for desalination plant heat exchanger. VIII. International Desalination Association World Congress: SP05-076 11 .DJ Schumerth Condenser technology Sept 2002.Patrick Lhermitte and Marie-Agnes Gerard for their helpful contribution to this paper . Industrial water treatment July 1996 4) Thin wall titanium condenser tubing: Explore the opportunities . ACKNOLEDGEMENTS Many Thanks to Haydee Richaud. DK Peacock.3) Titanium. D mc Cue.