You are on page 1of 9

Paper presented at Seminario Sobre Soldabilidad de Materials para usos criognicas Bilbao, 25th September 2003

Welding Consumables for Cryogenic Applications

Graham Holloway Metrode Products Ltd, Chertsey, UK

Typical cryogenic applications for 304L and 316L stainless steels are covered, and the question what is good cryogenic toughness for 308L and 316L weld metal? will be addressed. The various controls that need to be imposed on the weld metal to achieve good toughness are also reviewed. Some examples of the projects the consumables have been used on are also highlighted.

Page 1 of 9

Welding Consumables for Cryogenic Applications

1 Introduction
The storage and distribution of various gases including liquefied natural gas (LNG) requires materials that have good mechanical properties, particularly toughness, at low temperatures. Gases are generally stored as liquids and this requires that the materials used for storage tanks and pipework are capable of withstanding the low temperatures encountered with liquefied gases. Some examples of the liquefaction temperatures of various gases are shown in Table 1.

Table 1 Gas

Liquefaction temperatures for various gases. Liquefaction Temperature, C

-33 -45 -78 -84 -88 -104 -163 -183 -186 -196 -253 -269 LPG

Ammonia Propane CO2 Acetylene Ethane Ethylene Methane Oxygen Argon Nitrogen Hydrogen Helium


The most important criterion for service at cryogenic temperatures is normally toughness, and it is important that the weld metals used are capable of achieving good toughness. Large land based storage tanks are normally fabricated from 9% nickel steel but pipework for distribution etc is often made from austenitic stainless steel. The 9% nickel steels and 304/316 austenitic stainless steel consumables are tested down to -196C. For applications down to -269C, 304/316 austenitic stainless steel (welded with fully austenitic stainless steel consumables) or aluminium are used. The materials and welding consumables suitable for use at various nominal temperatures are shown in Table 2.

Table 2 Temp
-50C -60C -75C -101C -196C -196C -269C

Low temperature alloys and associated welding consumables. Alloy

1%Ni 2%Ni 3%Ni 3/5%Ni 9%Ni 304L/316L 304L/316L

1Ni (ER80S-Ni) 2Ni (ER80S-Ni2) 2Ni (ER80S-Ni2) 20.70.Nb (ERNiCr-3) 62-50 (ERNiCrMo-3) 308L/316L (ER308L/ER316L) ER316MnNF (EN:E 20 16 3 Mn L)

Tufmet 1 Ni.B (E8018-C3) Tufmet 2Ni.B (E8018-C1) Tufmet 3Ni.B (E8018-C2) Nimrod 182KS/AKS (ENiCrFe-3/2) Nimrod NCM6 (ENiCrMo-6) Ultramet 308LCF/316LCF (E308L-16/E316L-16) Ultramet 316NF (EN: E 18 15 3 LR)

Metcore DWA 55E (E71T-9) Supercore 308LCF/316LCF (E308LT1-4/E316LT1-4) Supercore 316NF (nearest EN: T 18 16 5 NLR)

Page 2 of 9

As explained already, many different alloys are selected for LNG applications. This paper covers austenitic stainless steels, 304/304L and 316/316L, and the relevant weld metals 308L and 316L. The use of fully austenitic weld metals (eg 18 15 3 L types) is not covered, these fully austenitic weld metals have excellent toughness at -196C and useful properties down to -269C. The paper is divided into four main areas: typical toughness requirements, the effect of different welding processes, how weld metals achieve the required toughness and, finally, the effect of weld procedure.

Toughness Requirements
Design temperatures encountered for austenitic stainless steels vary considerably but for simplicity and ease of testing, Charpy tests are normally carried out at -196C because this is an easily achieved and convenient test temperature obtained by cooling in liquid nitrogen. The most commonly encountered requirement is based on Charpy lateral expansion. The requirement for 0.38mm (15mls) lateral expansion at -196C, which can be found in the ASME code (eg ASME B31-3), is frequently quoted even for projects which are not being fabricated to ASME requirements. Although 0.38mm lateral expansion is probably the most widely specified requirement, some European projects do have a Charpy energy requirement. For example projects being carried out under the scope of TV sometimes specify 32J at -196C (40J/cm2). The data presented in this paper assume that 0.38mm lateral expansion at -196C is the design requirement.


Welding Process
Gas-shielded processes The gas-shielded welding processes (GTAW/TIG and GMAW/MIG) have inherently good toughness even at cryogenic temperatures. The gas shielding provides a metallurgically clean weld metal with low oxygen, hence low inclusion, content. The GTAW process in conjunction with ER308L (W 19 9 L) or ER316L (W 19 12 3 L) wire produces exceptional toughness even at -196C. With both ER308L and ER316L it is possible to achieve typically 80J (100J/cm2) at -196C with a lateral expansion of 1.0mm, when using the argon shielded GTAW process. The GMAW process (with Ar-2%O2 shielding gas) using ER308LSi (G 19 9 L Si) or ER316LSi (G 19 12 3 L Si) wire is capable of producing typically 40J (50J/cm2) at -196C with a lateral expansion of typically 0.5mm. These excellent impact properties can be consistently achieved using the GTAW and GMAW processes using standard commercially available ER308L/ER308LSi and ER316L/ER316LSi wires, Table 3.

Table 3

Representative mechanical properties from all-weld metal joints using the gas shielded processes and 316L wire GTAW GMAW
ER316LSi (G 19 12 3 L Si) Ar-2%CO2 559 413 50 47 73 43 0.58 ER316L (W 19 12 3 L) Ar 605 466 41 37 62 105 1.17 Page 3 of 9

Consumable Shielding gas Tensile strength, MPa 0.2% Proof stress, MPa Elongation, % 4d 5d Reduction of area, % Impact properties -196C: Impact energy, J Lateral expansion, mm


Flux-shielded processes The flux shielded processes SMAW/MMA, FCAW and Sub-arc (SAW) do not achieve such low oxygen content, low inclusion content, weld metal, and hence have lower impact properties than the gas-shielded processes. If consistently good toughness is required at -196C, then it is necessary to provide careful control of the welding consumable because standard commercial SMAW electrodes and FCAW wires will not achieve 0.38mm lateral expansion at -196C. The controls required to ensure good toughness are discussed further in the next section.

Controls required for flux shielded processes

As already discussed in Section 4, the gas shielded processes do not require any special controls to achieve 0.38mm lateral expansion at -196C. With the flux shielded processes, controls are required to produce 308L/316L consumables capable of achieving good cryogenic toughness. Three areas in particular will be covered: ferrite content alloy content type of flux.

The discussion and data presented in Sections 5.1 and 5.2 concentrate on the SMAW process but the information presented is equally applicable to FCAW as will be seen in Section 7. 5.1 Ferrite Various standards specify ferrite limits for austenitic stainless steels. For example, ASME III requires 5FN minimum (3-10FN for service above 425C), and API 582 has 3FN minimum (although it is noted that for cryogenic service lower FN may be required). In order to achieve the 0.38mm lateral expansion requirement, Metrode controls the ferrite content of the flux shielded processes in the range 2-5FN. The effect of ferrite on toughness is well illustrated in Figure 1, which shows data from Metrode and other sources. As can be seen, the general trend is for the lateral expansion to decrease as ferrite increases, but once the ferrite goes above about 8FN the lateral expansion increases again; this is well illustrated by the E308L-16/17 series in Figure 1. The benefit of controlling ferrite in the range 2-5FN is shown by the 308LCF series in Figure 1, where all the points are in the 1-4FN range with about 0.4 0.7mm lateral expansion.
0.9 0.8

Lateral Expansion, mm (at -196C)

0.7 0.6 0.5 0.4 0.3 0.2 0.1 0 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 Ultramet 308LCF E308L-16 E308L-17 E308L-15

Ferrite (FN)

Figure 1

Ferrite versus lateral expansion for 308L SMAW electrodes at 196C.

Page 4 of 9

One concern that is sometimes expressed with austenitic consumables having low ferrite levels is the risk of solidification cracking. Most codes and specifications that specify a minimum ferrite do so because of the hot cracking risk, and at a typical ferrite of ~3FN the controlled ferrite (CF) consumables might be considered to be at risk. Numerous weld procedures and projects have been carried out with Ultramet 308LCF and 316LCF SMAW consumables and no solidification cracking or microfissuring problems have ever been encountered. The reason for this is that despite the low ferrite, the composition is controlled to achieve a Cr:Ni ratio which produces a desirable primary ferrite solidification mode. This tolerance to cracking can also be demonstrated by superimposing the 308LCF range on the Suutala diagram, Figure 2.

308LCF range

Figure 2

Suutala diagram with the 308LCF composition range superimposed.

Alloy control The composition of the CF type consumables is controlled to achieve the optimum ferrite level (Cr:Ni equivalent ratio) but there is also found to be a dependence on the actual chromium equivalent. This dependence on chromium equivalent is more noticeable with the 316L alloy than 308L, and the most obvious result of this is that with the 316L types Mo is controlled in the range 2.0 2.5%. This means that the 316L controlled ferrite SMAW electrodes and flux cored wire conform to the AWS specifications (E316L-16 and E316LT1-4) which have a Mo requirement of 2.0 3.0%, but not the Euronorms (E 19 12 3 L R and T 19 12 3 L P) which require 2.5 3.0% Mo. Although not reviewed here, the good cryogenic toughness of low chromium equivalent weld metal is also displayed by the lean 316 type 16.8.2.


Flux type With CMn and low alloy steels, it is traditionally accepted that the best impact properties are achieved using fully basic flux systems. With austenitic stainless steels, the effect is far less pronounced, Figure 3. The basic coated electrodes, E316L-15, produce a higher impact energy at a given lateral expansion, but the basic coating on its own is no guarantee of achieving 0.38mm lateral expansion. Because it is necessary to control composition and ferrite content whatever flux type is used, (E3XXL-15/16/17), the Metrode consumables use rutile flux systems which offer the best operability and welder appeal.

Page 5 of 9



0.5 Lateral Expansion,mm





E316L-16/17 E316L-16CF E316L-15 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70

0 Charpy Energy, J

Figure 3

-196C impact properties for 316L SMAW electrodes.

Weld Procedure
The mechanical properties of austenitic stainless steel welds are not generally considered to be significantly affected by welding procedure. A series of sub-arc welds made with heat inputs between 1.0 and 2.7KJ/mm showed an increase in toughness with increasing heat input, Table 4. The reason for this is not certain, but it is suspected that the reduction in the number of runs deposited reduces the strain ageing effect and hence improves the impact properties.

Table 4

Effect of heat input/number of runs on impact properties of 316L sub-arc welds produced with the same wire and flux in 22mm thick plate. Number of runs in joint
27 17 10

Heat input, kJ/mm *

1.0 1.8 2.7

Ferrite, FN
5 7 7

Cr+Mo, %
21.3 21.3 21.0

-196C Properties Charpy energy, J

28 34 46

Lateral expansion, mm
0.30 0.42 0.48

* Heat input altered by varying travel speed with current and voltage constant at 300A and 30V. The effect can also be seen with SMAW electrodes. The larger diameter electrodes , on average, produce higher impact properties, Figure 4. This could again be attributed to the larger diameter electrodes being deposited using a higher heat input hence producing larger weld beads with fewer runs per joint.

Page 6 of 9



Lateral Expansion,mm



0.45 2.5mm 0.4 3.2mm 4.0mm 5.0mm 0.35 26 28 30 32 34 Charpy Energy, J 36 38 40 42

Figure 4

Impact energy versus lateral expansion at 196C for 316LCF electrodes.

Flux Cored Wires

The information that has been gained over many years of manufacturing controlled ferrite SMAW electrodes has now been applied to flux cored wires. The compositional and ferrite aims for the flux cored wires are the same as for the SMAW electrodes. This means that the wires conform to E308LT1-4 and E316LT1-4 with a ferrite aim of 2-5FN. As with the SMAW electrodes, the 316L flux cored wire conforms to the AWS specification (E316LT1-4) but not necessarily to the EN specification (T 19 12 3 L P). The wires are based on a rutile flux system and are suitable for all-positional pipe welding using standard Ar-20% CO2 shielding gas. Figure 5 shows a plot of Charpy energy versus lateral expansion comparing the impact properties at -196C of standard wires with controlled ferrite wires for both 308L and 316L. The benefits of the CF type wires is very well illustrated with all of the data for the CF types exceeding 0.38mm lateral expansion at -196C.
0.9 0.8 0.7 Lateral Expansion, m m 0.6 0.5 0.4 0.3 0.2 0.1 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 Charpy Energy, J

308L SC308LCF


Page 7 of 9

0.7 0.6

Lateral Expansion, mm

0.5 0.4 0.3 0.2 0.1 0 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45

316L SC316LCF


Charpy Energy, J

Figure 5

-196C impact properties for flux cored wires: (a) 308L (b) 316L.

Numerous successful procedures have been carried out with the CF SMAW electrodes, and many tonnes of electrodes have been used on projects all round the world. Most of the projects that the electrodes have been used on are pipelines and process pipework, some examples are given here. The CF electrodes were originally designed over 10 years ago to satisfy the requirements of Mobil/Ralph M Parsons for the SAGE (Scottish Area Gas Evacuation) project terminal at St Fergus. The plant, run by ExxonMobil, has now been processing gas for nearly eleven years. A number of weld procedures were completed covering different welding processes and pipe sizes, an example of a PQR run for this project is shown in Figure 6. This procedure is for an ASME 6G / EN H-L045 joint in 200mm diameter schedule 160 (23mm wall thickness) pipe completed with GTAW and SMAW. More recently tonnage quantities of the CF consumables have been used in Kazakhstan on the Karachaganak Project where the contractors were CCC-Saipem. The CF electrodes were used on 304/316 process pipework. There has also been significant quantities of pipework welded with the CF consumables on the Mesaieed Q-Chem petrochemical complex in Qatar. The contractors were Snamprogetti and the CF consumables were used specifically on the NGL-4 plant (natural gas to liquids plant) which will produce ethane rich gas feedstock for the ethylene plant.

Page 8 of 9

Weld Procedure Record

Material Filler Metal Classification Process Current ASTM A312 type 316L pipe 8 inch Schedule 160 316S92 / Ultramet 316LCF ER316L / E316L-16 Gas Shield Position 15/150C None
mm Current Amp Arc Volts Travel Speed mm/min Heat Input kJ/mm

Weld Details

8 nb
Ar 6G


GTAW / SMAW DC- / DC+ Interpass

23mm 1.5mm 3mm

Preheat / Temperature PWHT

Run No

Procedural Comments Argon gas shield: Torch 10 l/min Purge 15 l/min P Cr 17.1 17.2 Ni 12.2 12.0 Cap J 58 55 56 70 60 74 186 180 mm 0.48 0.46 0.62 1.18 0.76 0.90 1.64 1.72 1.99 2.81 J 38 35 37 65 70 92 138 160 180 2.47 2.83 2.66 Mo 2.2 2.1 Nb 0.01 0.01 Root mm 0.48 0.48 0.56 1.17 1.04 0.99 1.52 1.67 1.85 2.47 2.83 2.66 Cu 0.11 0.11 FN 2 3

1 2-4 Rem

2.4 2.5 3.2

90 60 80

10 23 24 C 0.021 0.023 Mn 0.7 0.7

50 75 80 Si 0.6 0.6 S 0.014 0.013

1.3 1.0 0.9

Analysis SMAW 2.5mm SMAW 3.2mm Tensile (transverse)

0.026 0.026 Charpy -196C Weld

Ferrite Ferritescope
Cap Mid Root 2.3 3.8 2.7

526MPa 554MPa Failed in pipe.


FL + 2mm
Hardness HV (10) PM HAZ Weld Metal HAZ PM

Cap Root

176 197

204 225

205-225 215-235

190 233

171 193

FL + 5mm

298 298

2.73 2.83

Figure 6

Weld procedure, using 316LCF electrodes, from the SAGE project.

Page 9 of 9