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4/23/2017 StressCorrosionCrackingofSteelinLiquefiedAmmoniaServiceARecapitulation

StressCorrosionCrackingofSteelinLiquefiedAmmoniaServiceA
Recapitulation

A.W.Loginow
SelfemployedconsultingcorrosionengineerretiredfromU.S.SteelCorporation

January1989

Category:Incidents

Summary:ThefollowingarticleisapartofNationalBoardClassicSeriesanditwaspublishedintheNational
BoardBULLETIN.(9printedpages)

Introduction
Thefollowingarticleisafollowupto"IndustryStudyIndicatesStressCorrosionCrackinginAnhydrousAmmonia
StorageVessels,"whichappearedintheOctober1988BULLETIN.Thisrecapitulationofexperienceswithstress
corrosioncrackingofsteelinliquefiedammoniasummarizesthesubjectoverthelastthreedecades.Fromthemany
reportsreviewed,aneffortwasmadetoconcentrateonthosethatwouldleadtoabetterunderstandingoftheproblem
facingtheindustrytodayandsuggestasolutiontotheproblem.Thereviewisaimedtowardasummaryofthe
conclusionsfromvarioussourcesspecificdetailsareavailableinthereferencedreports.

Abstract
Stresscorrosioncrackingofsteelinliquefiedammoniaistracedfromitsearlyrecognitioninthe1950s,from
experiencesinagriculturalandindustrialusefromNACE(NationalAssociationofCorrosionEngineers)recommended
DOT(DepartmentofTransportation)regulationstopreventdamage,andfromlaboratorystudiestoexplainthefactors
involved.Controlmeasuresarediscussedincludingcontrolofaircontamination,inhibitionbywateraddition,postweld
heattreatments,influenceofthestrengthofthesteelsusedandtheappliedstress,andperiodicinspectiontechniques.

AgriculturalAmmonia
SoonafterWorldWarIItheMississippiStateCollegeproposedamethodofinjectingliquefiedammoniadirectlyintothe
soilasachiefsourceofnitrogenfertilization(ammoniacontainsabout82percentnitrogen).Becauseexcellentresults
wereachieved,verysoonalargenetworkofammoniadistributionandapplicationfacilitiesdeveloped,whichusedmany
pressurevesselsconstructedprimarilyofcarbonsteels.Althoughliquefiedammoniahadbeenusedwithoutsignificant
difficultiesforseveraldecadesintherefrigeration,chemicalandsteelheattreatingindustries,inexplicablerupturesof
ammoniacontainersintheagriculturalserviceoccurredsoonaftertheintroductionofammoniaintothisservice.A
surveyindicatedthatabout3percentofthepressurevesselsfailedwithin3yearsofservicelife[1]**.Thereupona
researchcommitteewasformedbytheAgriculturalAmmoniaInstitutetodeterminethecausesofequipmentfailureand
torecommendpalliativemeasures.Byevaluatingthestorageandhandlingfacilitiesandpracticesforliquefiedammonia
andbyconductingcontrolledtests,itwasdeterminedthatstresscorrosioncracking(SCC)wasthemostlikelycauseof
thefailures[2].TheprobabilityofSCCincreasedwithincreasedstresslevelaswellaswithincreasedyieldstrengthof
thesteel.Ofthemanycontaminantsthatcouldhavebeenpresentintheammonia,airwasidentifiedasthespecific
agentwhichcausedSCC.(Althoughatthattimethenormalcarbondioxidecontentofairwasbelievedtobeessentialto
thecrackingprocess,laterstudiesmodifiedthatconcept.)Itwasalsoshownrepeatedlythatatleast0.1percentofwater
intheliquefiedammoniainhibitsSCCofconstructionalsteelsusedinthefabricationofthepressurevesselsfor
agriculturalservice.Astheresultofthestudiestheresearchcommitteerecommended[2]that:

Pressurevesselsshouldbeeitherfullystressrelievedorfabricatedwithheadsthatarehotformedorstress
relieved.

Extremecareshouldbeusedtoeliminateairfromtheammoniasystemsnewvesselsmustbethoroughly
purgedtoeliminateaircontamination.

Ammoniashouldcontainatleast0.2percentwatertoinhibitSCC.

Thereport[2]alsoremarkedthat,inasmuchaseachoftheserecommendationshaslimitationswhenconsidered
individually,allthreeshouldbefollowedtoavoidSCC.Theadoptionoftheserecommendationswasveryeffectivein
practicallyeliminatingSCCincarbonsteelvesselsusedintheagriculturalindustry[3].

IndustrialAmmonia
OutsidetheagriculturalindustrySCCbegantooccurinthemid1960s,primarilyinvolvingDOTSpecificationtruck
transportcargovessels.ThisonsetofSCCmayhavebeenduetoimprovementsinammoniaproductiontechnology
whichresultedinagradualincreaseoftheammoniapurity,mostlybyareductionofthewatercontentwhichinhibits
SCC[4].Anexaminationof19ammoniavessels,thatwasperformedatthattime,includedseveralsteelsrepresentinga
widerangeofstrengthlevels.Sectioningeightofthesevesselsthathadbeeninammoniaservicefor8to23yearsand
conductingadetailedinspectionbyawetfluorescentmagneticparticletechniqueoftheentireinteriorsurfacedidnot
revealanyindicationofcracks.However,twoadditionalDOTSpecification3AAvesselscontainedstresscorrosion
cracks.Thehardnessofthesteels,obtainedinlieuoftensilestrength,whichdidnotcontainSCCrangedfrom134to
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272HV,andthehardnessofthecrackedvesselswas207HVand241HV.Thereasonforthislackofspecificitywith
respecttothehardness(orstrength)levelisnotknown.Perhapstheappliedstressofthecrackedvesselswashighin
relationtotheirstrength,orthecontaminationoftheammoniawasatadetrimentallevel.Thespecificgradeofammonia
thatwascontainedinanyofthesevesselsisnotknown,butitcanbeassumedthatitwasmetallurgicalorrefrigeration
gradeammonia,whichdonotcontainappreciableamountsofinhibitingwater(33ppmmaxor150ppmmax[5],
respectively).SCCwasalsofoundinthreerefrigerationsystemammoniacondensersfabricatedofASTMA515Grade
70steel[6].Thecondensershadnotbeenpostweldheattreatedandthecrackswerelocatedinthebasemetalnear
welds.TworefrigerationsystemammoniastoragevesselsofthissteelalsoshowedSCCincoldformedvesselheads
nearweldsthatwerenotpostweldheattreated.

AnASTMA202GradeBhotrolledsteeltrucktransportvesselcontainedSCCinandadjacenttorepairwelds[6].
Althoughthevesselhadbeenpostweldheattreatedafterfabrication,subsequentrepairwelds,however,werenotheat
treatedandtheresidualstressescausedstresscorrosiontooccur.NotethatCompressedGasAssociationguidelines
fortherepairoftrucktransportcargovessels[7]permit"minorrepairs"withoutsubsequentheattreatmentthisaspect
willbediscussedinalatersection.SCCinASTMA202GradeBsteelammoniatransportvesselsthatwereheattreated
afterwelding,however,wasconspicuousbybeingessentiallyabsent.

In1967DOTreportedabout8000trucktransportcargovesselsinexistence,ahalfofthisnumberbeingfabricatedof
quenchedandtempered(Q&T)alloysteels(ASTMA517),whichrepresentedtheupperendofthestrengthrange
examined.Atthattimeabout2000vesselswereexaminedbyvesselmanufacturersforevidenceofcracking,andabout
400vesselscontainedsomedefects,buttheDOTcommentedthatmostofthedefectswereassociatedwithpoor
workmanship,thebalanceprobablybeingcausedbySCC.Intheperiodfrom1965to1977thewriterexaminedeight
cargovesselsthatwerefabricatedofASTMA517Q&Tsteelswithapostweldheattreatmentandthatcarriedavariety
ofammoniagrades,someofthemwithoutwaterinhibition[6].Theobservedcracks,inallinstancesidentifiedby
metallographicexaminationasbeingcausedbySCC,occurredontheinsidesurface,mostlyinthelowerquadrantofthe
vessel,thatisexposedprimarilytoliquidammoniaatorwithinafewinchesofinternalweldsaswellasinareasopposite
externalwelds,especiallyoppositethoseweldsthatattachloadbearingpads.Crackswerealsoassociatedwithrepair
weldsthatwerenotheattreatedaftertherepairs.

Untilthemid1960stheserviceperformanceofhighstrengthquenchedandtemperedsteel(ASTMA517)trucktransport
cargovesselswasexcellent[3].However,asSCCstartedtooccurinsuchvessels,NACErecommendedasetof
preventivemeasuresthatwereadoptedintheU.S.asDOTregulationsin1968and1975[8].Theseregulationsrequired
thatcargovesselsofQ&Tsteelsinliquefiedammoniaservicebeusedonlyforammoniacontainingatleast0.2
percentwater.(Aninitiallypermittedammoniaofatleast99.995percentpuritywaslatereliminatedfromthe
requirements,becausethispuritydefinitionconsideredonlywaterandoilasimpuritiesanddidnotincludeairasa
contaminant).CargovesselsofotherthanQ&Tsteelswerepermittedforusewithanygradeofammonia.The
regulationsalsostatedthatallnewcargovesselsforammoniaservicebepostweldheattreated.Awetfluorescent
magneticparticleinspection[7]oftheinternalsurfaceswasalsorequiredofallvesselsinconjunctionwiththe
hydrostaticretestevery5years.AmajorvesselfabricatorreportedthatsubsequenttotheserequirementsSCCdamage
toQ&Tcargovesselshasdecreasedsubstantially.

BeneficialandDetrimentalFactors
TheexperienceofSCCwithliquefiedammoniacontainersandtheresultingregulatoryactivityintheU.S.prompted
severalinvestigationstobeconductedinlaboratoriestofurtherdeterminethefactorsinvolved.RaddandOertle[9]
suggestedthatthecrackingwasduetohydrogenembrittlement,thatwateradditionswereactingtoacceleraterather
thaninhibitcracking,andthattheobservedinhibitionwasduetodissolvedoxygeninwaterratherthanintrinsicallytothe
water.BasedonacceleratedtestswithC02saturatedammonia,Naitoetal.[10]proposedthatSCCinthetest
environmentwasinitiatedbypittingandpropagatedbyhydrogenembrittlement.Additionofabout0.75percentwaterto
thisenvironmentreducedthecracking.Also,theadditionof0.01percentNH4C1suppressedtheSCC.Furukimietal.
[11]proposedtocoveruptheSCCproblembydecreasingthehardnessofthesurfaceofhighstrengthQ&Tsteelto
lessthan190HVbydecarburizingthesteelsurfaceandcontrollingthecoolingrateduringtheQ&Ttreatment.

AtU.S.SteelResearchmanyinvestigationswereconductedbytheuseoftheslowstrainratetechnique[12].This
technique,whichiseffectiveinproducingSCCinrelativelyshorttimeperiods,employeddynamicstrainingtostressa
specimenataratethatismuchslowerthanthatusedinaconventionaltensiontest.Wilde[13]developedspecial
samplingandgaschromatographyanalysistechniquesthatovercometheproblemofselectiveevaporationfrequently
encounteredindeterminingthesmallconcentrationsofgaseouscontaminantsinliquefiedammonia.Withrespectto
SCCbyliquefiedammoniamostoftheslowstrainratetestswereconductedonthehighstrengthASTMA517steel.
Deeganetal.[14,15]havedemonstratedbytheuseofanodicandcathodicpolarization,inconjunctionwiththeslow
strainmethod,thatSCCinaircontaminatedammoniaisanodicallycontrolledandthatcathodicpolarizationprevents
cracking.

Hennecken[16]alsofoundthatSCCofcarbonsteelinliquidammoniaisanodicinnature,andexpandedfurtherfrom
polarizationteststhatoxidizersinammoniaincreasethedangerofSCC.TheanodicnatureofSCCinammoniawasalso
verifiedbyWildeandKim[17]whodemonstratedbytheslowstrainratetestthataluminum,whichisanodictosteelin
aircontaminatedammonia[18],whencoupledtothestrainingsteelspecimencanpreventSCC,apparentlybycathodic
protection.However,therelativelyhighelectricalresistivityofliquefiedammoniaandtheresultingpoorthrowingpower
militateagainstasuccessfuluseofcathodicprotectionbysacrificialaluminumanodesincombatingSCCinindustrial
applications.ThisreservationissupportedbyobservationsthatSCCoccurredinammoniatrucktransportcargovessels,
whichwereequippedwithaluminumbaffleselectricallycoupledtothesteelvessels[6].

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ThestudiesoftheASTMA517steelalsoshowedthatuncontaminatedmetallurgicalgradeammoniadoesnotcause
SCC[14],butthatan0.38psigoverpressureofaircanresultinSCC[15].Thelatterauthorsalsoshowedthatseparate
additionsofeither9ppmoxygenor3ppmnitrogentotheammoniadidnotcauseSCCinA517steel,butthatSCC
occurredwhenbothofthesecontaminantswereaddedtogetherasmalleradditionof0.9ppmoxygentogetherwith3
ppmnitrogenalsoresultedinSCC[15].Later,Wilde[13]showedthatintheabsenceofnitrogengreateramountsof
oxygen(200ppm)cancauseslightSCCinplasticallydeformedsteel.Healsodeterminedthat0.02ppmoxygen(added
asairtoammoniacontaining18ppmwater)didnotcauseSCCinA517steelslowstrainratespecimens.Astheair
contaminationlevelwasincreased,markedSCCoccurredbetween1and200ppmoxygen,andastheaircontamination
wasincreasedfurthertheSCCseveritybecamelesspronounceduntilatanoxygenconcentrationof920ppmandabove
SCCwasnotobserved.TheroleofoxygenwasalsoconfirmedbyLyle[19]whoconcludedfromslowstrainratetests
thatoxygencontaminationistheprimarycauseofammoniaSCCofsteel,aswellasbyFarrowetal.[20]whoconcluded
thatoxygencontaminationisnecessaryforSCCofmildsteelatalevelofmorethan5ppmincommercialgrade
ammonia,butaslittleas1ppmmaybesufficientwhenwaterisabsent.

TheearlyconclusionbyLoginowandPhelps[2]thatasmalladditionofwaterinhibitsSCCofsteelinaircontaminated
ammoniawaslaterconfirmedinslowstrainratetestsonA517steel[14,15,21].DeeganandWilde[14]alsoshowed
thatforthedegreeofaircontaminationused(approximately2atmospherespartialpressureofairat25C)alimitforthe
effectivenessofwaterasaninhibitorwasobservedat0.08percent,whichisinverycloseagreementwiththelowest
amountof0.1percentreportedearlier[2].Hennecken[16]statesthathighoxygencontentsintheammoniarequire
increasedwatercontentstoprovideinhibitionagainstSCCincarbonsteel,andconversely,thatlowoxygencontents
couldbecounteractedbylowwatercontents.Healsoconcludesfrompolarizationmeasurementsthatthepresenceof
oxidizersinliquidammoniaimpedetheinhibitingpropertiesofwater.Examinationofsomefailuresofagriculturaland
industrialammoniavessels,thatwerediscussedearlier,suggestedthattheinhibitionwithwaterwasnotpracticed
continuouslyandthusresultedinSCC.In1975,PoulsonandArup[22]showedexperimentallybytheuseoftheslow
strainratetestonmildsteelthatwhenwaterinhibitedammoniaisreplacedwithawaterfreeaircontaminatedammonia,
crackingstartedwithoutsignificantdelay,therebyconfirmingthesuspicionthatanintermittentexposuretouninhibited
ammoniacanresultincracking.

Althoughcracksintrucktransportcargovesselsandstoragespheresappearmostlyinthelowerpartthatis
continuouslyexposedtoliquidammonia[2,6,16],variousreportsfromEuropewereconcernedwithSCCinthevapor
spaceofstoragespheres(mostlyfabricatedoflowstrengthcarbonsteelwithoutpostweldheattreatmentoftheentire
sphere)thatcontainedwaterinhibitedammonia.Theseobservationssuggestedthattheinhibitivepropertiesofwaterin
liquidammoniaarenottransferredtothevaporphase.StudiesbyLudwigsenandArup[23]showedthatammoniawhich
condensesonacoolsteelsurfaceatnonequilibriumconditions,suchasonacoolnight,iscapableofcausingSCC.
Theyconcludedthatsuchacondensedammoniacontainsmuchlessinhibitingwaterandmuchmoredetrimentaloxygen
thantheliquidammoniafromwhichitevaporated.Later,Brownconfirmedbycalculationthepaucityofwaterinthevapor
overliquidammonia[24],andWildeconfirmedtheenrichmentofairinthevaporbyexperimentallydeterminingthe
partitioncoefficientsbetweenliquidandvaporphasesofammoniatobe587foroxygenand603fornitrogen[13].
LudwigsenandArup[23]suggestthattheliquidammoniabemaintainedatatemperaturethatislowerthanthatofthe
steelincontactwiththeammoniavaportopreventcondensationandconsequentSCC.Thisapproachapparentlydoes
notavoidSCCinthemeniscusbetweenvaporandliquid.Lunde[25]reportsthatSCCoccurredinthevaporphasewhen
thesteelwasatambienttemperature,whereascrackingwasobservedonlyinthemeniscuswhenthetopofthe
containerwaswarmerby5Cthanthewaterinhibitedliquidammoniaandcondensationdidnotoccur.

Theenvironmentaleffects,thataresummarizedabove,togetherwithelectrochemicalstudiesledtotheformulationofa
mechanismofSCCGfconstructionalsteelsinliquefiedammonia[15,21].

"Inoxygencontaminatedammoniaanadsorbedfilmexistsonthesteelsurfacewhichmaintainsthecorrosionpotential
atverynoblevalues.Duringstrainingafteryield,breaksinthefilmexposefilmfreemetalatslipsteps,andthismetal
dissolvesrapidlyunderthenoblepotentialimposedbydirectgalvaniccouplingtothefilmedmetalsurface.

Intheabsenceofanyotherimpurity,oxygenhasthetendencytorefilmthebaremetalandtosomedegreeinhibitsthe
severityofSCCdependingontheconcentrationandthestrainrate.Nitrogendissolvedintheammoniainhibitsthe
filmingofthebareslipstepsbyaprocessof'competitiveadsorption'withtheoxygenandconsequentlyincreasesthe
severityofSCCthroughaprocessofadsorptionratherthanthroughaprocessofelectrochemicalorigin.Waterinhibits
SCCbyactingasanadditionalfilmformerwhichhastenspassivationandhealingoffilmbreaksatslipsteps"[18].

InthisproposedmodelnomentionismadeaboutthecontributionofcarbondioxidetotheSCCprocess.Wilde[13]has
shownthat,contrarytotheearlyconclusionthatcarbondioxideisessentialtothecrackingprocess[2],thisnormal
constituentofairwhenaddedtoammoniaresultedinseveregeneralcorrosion,butnotSCCforSCCtooccur,airmust
alsobepresent.InthisstudyWilde[13]alsoexaminedtheeffectsofvariousothercontaminantsandconcludedthat
CO,CO+O2,CH4,SO2,S02+02,NH4C03,(NH4)2CO3NH4N03,NaN03,N0,N02,N20,NaC1,NH4C1,NaN02,and
NaNH2+airdidnotcauseSCCwhenaddedtoanairfreetestammonia.Someofthetestadditives(S02,S02+02,
NH4N03,andNH4C1)causedgeneralcorrosiontovaryingdegrees.

Althoughithasbeenshownconvincinglythatadditionsofwaterontheorderof0.1percentandmorecaneffectively
inhibitSCCinaircontaminatedammonia,thereareendusesofammoniainwhichevensuchsmallamountsofwater
cannotbetolerated,suchasinmetalheattreatingorrefrigerationapplications.Therefore,somestudiesweremadewith
additivesthatwouldbecompatiblewiththeenduseofammonia,primarilyaminecompounds[13].Thetestsshowedthat
someinorganicaminesandethylenediamideinhibitedcrackinginaircontaminatedammonia.Becausethemolecular

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constitutionofhydrazine(N2H4)issimilartothatofammonia(NH3),thiscompoundwassubjectedtofurthertestsat
concentrationsrangingfrom0.002to1.0percent.Theinhibitivepropertiesofhydrazineinaircontaminatedammonia
wereobservedatconcentrationsof0.025percentN2H4andabove.Apparentlyhydrazineactsasanoxygenscavenger
inasmuchasinahydrazinetreatedammonia,thatwasinitiallycontaminatedwithairandwhichsubsequenttothe
hydrazineadditiondidnotcauseSCC,theoxygencontenthaddecreasedtozero.Theinhibitoryeffectsofhydrazineand
waterwerealsoreportedinrelationtomildsteelaswellasthoseofammoniumcarbonate,ammoniumbicarbonate,and
carbamate[20].Lyle[19]reportedthatwater,methane,andnitrogenexhibitinhibitingproperties,thelatterbeingat
variancewiththefindingsdiscussedearlier[15,21].

PreventiveMeasures
TheprecedingdiscussionofpracticalexperienceandthemanyinvestigativestudiesofSCCofsteelsinliquefied
ammoniaservicesuggestseveralmeasuresthatcouldpreventSCCorreducetheprobabilityofcracking.However,it
shouldberecognizedthateachmeasurehaslimitationswhenconsideredseparately.Formaximumbenefitasmany
proceduresaspossibleshouldbeemployedintheattempttocombatSCC.

Aircontamination(evenafewppm)isconsideredtheprimarycauseofSCCofsteelsinliquefiedammonia.Itis
thereforegoodengineeringpracticetopurgenewvesselsofairandtoeliminateanyconceivablepossibilityofair
ingressintotheammoniahandlingsystem,suchasatdetachableammoniatransferpoints.Becauseairtendsto
concentrateinthevaporspaceabovealiquidammoniapool(thereisabout600timesmoreairinthevapor
phasethanintheliquidinequilibriumwithit)itisadvisableinthecaseoflargestoragespherestocontinuously
condensetheammoniavaporwithasimultaneousdischargeofthenoncondensables,whichismostlyair,andto
returnthecondensedliquidtothevessel.Forrelativelysmallunitsitwasdemonstratedthatableedingorboiloff
methodcaneffectivelyremoveairfromammoniatoavoidSCC[2,13].GoodresultsinreducingSCCdamageto
storagesphereshavebeenachievedbyacarefulcontroloftheoxygencontentinammoniahavingalowwater
content[26].

Similartothedetrimentaleffectofoxygen,theinhibitoryeffectofwatercontentinliquidammoniahasbeenwell
documented,theoptimumdoseapparentlybeing0.2percentwaterinthoseapplicationswherethisamountof
watercanbetoleratedalthoughitwassuggestedthatalowerwaterconcentrationmaybeadequatewhenthe
oxygencontentislow[16,20].NotethatforeffectiveinhibitionofSCCtherequiredwatercontentmust
constantlybepresentinammonia.Shouldthewatercontentdropbelowthecriticalconcentrationevenfora
relativelyshorttime,asbyinfluxofwaterfreeammoniaintoavessel,theirreversibleSCCdamagecanoccur.
Thusitisimportanttomonitorthewatercontentonafrequentandregularbasisandtoreplenishthewaterifit
startstofallbelowthecriticalconcentration.Inmetalheattreatingandrefrigerationapplicationswherethislow
concentrationofwaterinammoniaisundesirable,laboratorytestshaveshownthat0.025percenthydrazine
additionisadequateininhibitingSCC.Althoughindustrialutilizationofhydrazineinammoniaisstillforthcoming,
suchuseofhydrazineshouldverifythelaboratoryfindings.

Theinhibitoryeffectofwatermaynotberealizedinthevaporspaceofliquidammoniastoragetanks,and
calculationsandlaboratorystudiesindicatethatmeasures,whichpreventcondensationofammoniaonthesteel
surface,wouldtendtoavoidSCC.Simultaneousreductionoftheoxygencontentoftheammoniavaporshould
alsobebeneficial.

PostweldheattreatmentsareeffectiveinsubstantiallyreducingtheprobabilityofSCCofsteelincontactwithair
contaminatedammonia.Althoughpostweldheattreatmentsarefrequentlyconsideredonlyfromthestandpointof
reducingtheresidualstresses,itshouldberecognizedthatsuchthermaltreatmentsresultintwoconsequences,
bothofwhicharebeneficialinreducingSCC.First,properlyconceivedandexecutedthermaltreatmentscan
substantiallylowertheresidualstressesthatresultfromfabrication(weldingandcoldforming),erection,and
restraintofthesteelstructure,suchasstoragesphere.Secondly,anappropriatepostweldheattreatmentcan
significantlyreducethepeakhardnessintheheataffectedzone(HAZ)oftheweldment[16].Thus,ahardness
peakof443HVintheHAZofanammoniatankofASTMA202GradeBhotrolledsteelwasreducedto280HV
byapostweldheattreatment,andsimilarlya447HVpeakhardnesswasreducedto290HVinanASTMA517Q
&Tsteelweldment[6].SuchreductioninHAZhardnessbenefitstheresistancetoSCC,especiallyin
conjunctionwithothermeasures.InthiscontextnotealsothatguidelinespromulgatedbytheCompressedGas
Associationforrepairsofvesselspermitminorweldingrepairstobeperformedwithoutasubsequentheat
treatment[7].However,thesizeofthearearepairedbyweldingortheextentofweldingdonotaffectthe
hardnessoftheHAZanditssusceptibilitytoSCC.ThereforefromthestandpointofavoidingSCC,itisgood
engineeringpractice,thatsteelequipmentforliquefiedammoniaservicebeheattreatedafteranywelding
operationregardlessofsize,whichisarequirementintheUnitedKingdom[27].Althoughitisgenerally
consideredtobedifficultandcostly,asuccessfulfullscaleheattreatmentofalargefabricatedanderected
storagespherewasreportedfromJapan[28].Shotpeeninghasbeenproposedtoreduceresidualstressesin
areasofweldjointsoreventoinducecompressivesurfacestresses.However,experiencehasshownthatthis
approachonlyreducedtemporarilytheincidenceofammoniaSCC,butdidnotpreventit[16,27,31].

Itisrecognizedthat,ingeneral,theprobabilityofSCCofsteelinliquefiedammoniaserviceisthegreater,the
higherthestrengthofthesteel.Theformulationofalowerstrengthlimit,belowwhichSCCwouldnotoccur,is
notpracticalbecauseitdependsonthelevelandnatureofcontamination,thedegreeandnatureofinhibition,the
magnitudeofresidualandoperatingstressesandtheoperatingtemperature.Nevertheless,alowerstrengthsteel
appearstoprovideahigherdegreeofresistancetoSCCthanahigherstrengthvariety.Withrespecttothestress
thatexistsinasteelcomponentotheraspectspertaintheupperlimitisgovernedbyapplicablestatutory
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regulations,andthelowerend,whichisdesirablefromthestandpointofcombatingSCC,isgovernedbythe
operatingpressure,thetechnologicallyachievablereductionofresidualfabricatingstresses,andeconomicand
safetyconsiderations.Itisgoodengineeringpracticetoavoidstressconcentratingfeatures.Notealsothatif
SCChasinitiated,theeffectivestressatthetipofthecrackcanbeveryhighindeed.Noveldesignaspects,
suchasexternalreinforcementsthatwouldplacetheinteriorsurfaceofatankincompression,couldreducethe
operatingstresslevelandbenefitindecreasingthelikelihoodofSCC.

Manycatastrophicfailures,withresultantpersonalinjuriesandpropertydamagethathavetheirorigininSCC,
couldbeavoidedbyperiodicandfrequentinspectionsofthesteelsurfacesthatareincontactwithammonia,and
bymakingrepairswhenneeded.Cracknell[26]hasproposedaninspectionscheduleforasweldedcarbonsteel
vesselsthatisbasedonoxygenandwatercontents.Guild[30]recommendsinspectionstobeconductedboth
beforeandafterpressuretestingofstoragespheres,becausefinecrackscanopenupduringthepressuretest
andbecomevisibleafterward.Inthewriter'sexperience,themostsensitiveinspectionmethodfordetectingthe
frequentlyveryfinestresscorrosioncracksisthewetfluorescentmagneticparticlemethodwithanalternating
currentyoke16,7,31].Anacousticemissiontechnique[32],whichdetectsactivelypropagatingcracksby
sensorsappliedtotheoutsideofanoperatingvessel,couldfurnishacontinuousreportonthesoundnessofthe
vesselifequippedwithappropriatemonitoring,processing,andwarningdevices.

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4/23/2017 StressCorrosionCrackingofSteelinLiquefiedAmmoniaServiceARecapitulation

*ReprintedwithpermissionfromMaterialsPerformance,Vol.25,No.12,December1986,pp1822.1986,National
AssociationofCorrosionEngineersHouston,TX.Reprintedtexthasbeeneditedforclarificationandspace
requirements.

Editor'snote:SomeASMEBoilerandPressureVesselCoderequirementsmayhavechangedbecauseofadvancesin
materialtechnologyand/oractualexperience.Thereaderiscautionedtorefertothelatesteditionandaddendaof
theASMEBoilerandPressureVesselCodeforcurrentrequirements.

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