Materials Laboratory Case Study #1 | Manufacturing – Process Upsets News

Manufacturing Process Upsets


A small metallic particle that had contaminated a product line was brought to SI’s Materials Laboratory for analysis.  The goal of the analysis was to identify the particle’s composition to help identify its original source.

The particle was examined and documented in a scanning electron microscope (SEM) as shown in Figure 1. The particle was several millimeters long and appeared to have been originally round in cross-section with subsequent mechanical deformation. The particle exhibited intermittent areas of a surface deposits that appeared black in the SEM images.

Figure 1. SEM images of the particle

Figure 1. SEM images of the particle

An area that was relatively free of the surface deposit was analyzed using energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS) to identify the element present in the base material. The EDS analysis are provided in the table. The particle was attached to an aluminum planchet with a piece of carbon tape, so much of the carbon is from the sample preparation. The EDS results indicated the particle was essentially an iron-based metal with approximately 18% chromium and 8% nickel, which is consistent with Type 304 stainless steel. Knowing the composition, the manufacturer is investigating possible sources.

Element Weight %
Carbon 4.2
Oxygen 1.5
Aluminum 0.2
Silicon 0.9
Chlorine 0.1
Chromium 17.9
Manganese 3.8
Iron 63.5
Nickel 7.4
Molybdenum 0.4

EDS provides qualitative elemental analysis of materials based on the characteristic energies of X-rays produced by the SEM electron beam striking the sample. Using a light element detector, EDS can identify elements with atomic number 5 (boron) and above. Elements with atomic number 13 (aluminum) and higher can be detected at concentrations as low as 0.2 weight percent; lighter elements are detectable at somewhat higher concentrations. As performed in this examination, EDS cannot detect the elements with atomic numbers less than 5 (beryllium, lithium, helium or hydrogen). The relative concentrations of the identified elements were determined using semiquantitative, standardless quantification (SQ) software. The results of this analysis are semi-quantitative and indicate relative amounts of the elemental constituents.

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News & Views

NEWS August 19 - HRSG Forum Major Cycle Chemistry Aspects for HRS copy

HRSG Forum: Major Cycle Chemistry Aspects for HRSGs

‘SI is proud to have SI Expert and Senior Associate, Dr. Barry Dooley presenting at the HRSG Forum on August 19that 11 am (EST).  

TOPIC:  Introduction to the Key Cycle Chemistry Features for HRSG Reliability

HRSG ForumThe basic rules for providing optimum cycle chemistry control for HRSGs will be outlined. The latest statistics from over 100 HRSG plants worldwide will show how the lack of basic cycle chemistry controls leads to the major failure/damage mechanisms. The following two presentations will provide information on what is acceptable for the two top situations involving monitoring iron and continuous instrumentation.

Click here for more information

American Society of Civil Engineers, ASCE

Structural Design for Physical Security

Structural Integrity’s Own, Andy Coughlin published by American Society of Civil Engineers, ASCE

American Society of Civil Engineers, ASCEAndy Coughlin’s work has been published in the ASCE Structural Design for Physical Security: State of the Practice. The Task Committee on Structural Design prepared the publication for Physical Security of the Blast, Shock, and Impact Committee of the Dynamic Effects Technical Administration Committee of the Structural Engineering Institute of ASCE.  Andy wrote Chapter 10 on Testing and Certification for Physical Security and assisted on several other chapters.

Structural Design for Physical Security, MOP 142, provides an overview of the typical design considerations encountered in new construction and renovation of facilities for physical security. The constant change in threat tactics and types has led to the need for physical security designs that account for these new considerations and anticipate the environment of the future, with flexibility and adaptability being priorities. This Manual of Practice serves as a replacement for the 1999 technical report Structural Design for Physical Security: State of the Practice and is intended to provide a roadmap for designers and engineers involved in physical security. It contains references to other books, standards, and research.

Topics include

  • Threat determination and available assessment and criteria documents,
  • Methods by which structural loadings are derived for the determined threats,
  • Function and selection of structural systems,
  • Design of structural components,
  • Function and selection of window and facade components,
  • Specific considerations for retrofitting structures,
  • Testing methodologies, and
  • Bridge security.

This book will be a valuable resource to structural engineers and design professionals involved with projects that have physical security concerns related to explosive, ballistic, forced entry, and hostile vehicle threats.

Of particular note is the publication of the process by which products can be tested and certified to achieve physical security performance in blast, ballistics, forced entry, and vehicle impact.  Often unclear or overly specific requirements hamper the application of quality products which protect people and assets from attack.  The certification process below shows how approved agencies, like SI’s TRU Compliance, play a role in testing, evaluating, and selecting products for use in critical physical security applications, rather than relying solely on the claims of the manufacturers.  TRU’s certification program is the first of its kind to receive IAS Accreditation for the certification of physical security products.Certification Process

What’s All the Buzz About Hydrogen! News and Views, Volume 50

News and Views, Volume 50 | What’s All the Buzz About Hydrogen!

By:  Daniel Peters (SI) and Thomas Pastor (HSB Global Inspection & Engineering Services)

What’s All the Buzz About Hydrogen! News and Views, Volume 50

A recent news story reported:

  • Hydrogen initiatives are accelerating globally.
  • 200+ large-scale projects have been announced across the value chain, with a total value exceeding $300 billion
  • 30+ countries have national hydrogen strategies in place, and public funding is growing

Anyone who is following climate change issues and the expansion of the use of renewable energy would have seen the subject hydrogen popping up all over the place. Just do a Google search using the following words “hydrogen renewable energy climate change” and dozens of links will be displayed promoting the use of green or renewable hydrogen, made from the electrolysis of water powered by solar or wind, as indispensable in achieving climate neutrality.


Structural Integrity Associates | Wireless Sensor Node Featured Image

High Energy Piping Monitoring

High Energy Piping Monitoring

SI moves beyond the pilot application of a High Energy Piping monitoring program designed to reduce operational risk and optimize maintenance activities.

Structural Integrity Associates | Wireless Sensor Node 6.17ESI has successfully implemented the initial application of an integrated monitoring solution that provides insight into damage evolution and operational risk using real-time data and automated engineering intelligence. This solution will assist in the optimization of maintenance activities and downtime, helping utilities get the most out of their O&M budgets.  “This is a decisive step toward a more modern asset management approach that will lower O&M cost for our clients,” said Steve Gressler, Vice President, SI Energy Services Group, a division of Structural Integrity Associates, Inc. (SI) focused on power plant asset integrity.

Informed by decades of material performance knowledge, the SI team has refined a proprietary risk-ranking method to optimize sensor placement and deliver a high-value monitoring platform supported by the PlantTrack™ asset data management platform.  The integration of monitoring information into the platform further enhances equipment asset integrity data to simplify stakeholder decision making.   The SI solution incorporates various sensors working on a distributed wireless network to feed real-time data to SI’s state-of-the-art algorithms and is also capable of integrating with existing plant data historians to pull in other valuable operational data. The outcome is a cost-effective damage monitoring approach to focus resources and the timing of comprehensive field inspections.

“The architecture enables asset managers to obtain real-time feedback, alerts, and trends that clearly link actual operating conditions to the lifecycle of critical components.,” said Jason Van Velsor, Director of Integrated Monitoring Technology at SI.

“We have supported clients with asset integrity insights for decades and now offer enhanced monitoring technology that will help automate risk management for high energy piping and help obtain the most value out of field inspection and other maintenance activities during outages.”

Unique Features of the SI Solution include:

  • Design and application of a monitoring program that focuses on safety and reliability and is consistent with guidance contained in the ASME B31.1 regulatory code.
  • Expert assessment (or Gap Analysis) to optimize monitoring including health checkups to validate optimum monitoring for plant operation.
  • Decades of material analysis insights as algorithms to expertly inform decision making.
  • Customized automated alerts to notify operators of abnormal or undesirable operating conditions affecting the life of high-energy components.

Contact Steve or Jason to learn more (

News and Views Volume 49, Attemperator Monitoring with Wireless Sensors 02

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News and Views Volume 49, Attemperator Monitoring with Wireless Sensors

News & Views, Volume 49 | Inspection Optimization- Probabilistic Fracture Mechanics

News & Views, Volume 49 | Inspection Optimization: Probabilistic Fracture Mechanics

By:  Scott Chesworth (SI) and Bob Grizzi (EPRI)

News & Views, Volume 49 | Inspection Optimization- Probabilistic Fracture Mechanics

The goal was to determine whether the frequency of current inspection requirements was justified or could be optimized (i.e., increase the interval of certain inspections to devote more attention to higher-value inspections and thereby maximize overall plant safety).

Executive Summary
Welds and similar components in nuclear power plants are subjected to periodic examination under ASME Code, Section XI.  Typically, examinations are performed during every ten-year inspection interval using volumetric examination techniques, or a combination of volumetric and surface examination techniques.  Nuclear plants worldwide have performed numerous such inspections over plant history with few service induced flaws identified.


News & Views, Volume 49 | Materials Lab Featured Damage Mechanism - Soot Blower Erosion

News & Views, Volume 49 | Materials Lab Featured Damage Mechanism: Soot Blower Erosion

News & Views, Volume 49 | Materials Lab Featured Damage Mechanism - Soot Blower ErosionBy:  Wendy Weiss

Soot blower erosion (SBE) is caused by mechanical removal of tube material due to the impingement on the tube wall of particles entrained in the “wet” blower steam. As the erosion becomes more severe, the tube wall thickness is reduced and eventually internal pressure causes the tube rupture.


SBE is due to the loss of tube material caused by the impingement of ash particles entrained in the blowing steam on the tube OD surface.  In addition to the direct loss of material by the mechanical erosion, SBE also removes the protective fireside oxide. (Where the erosion only affects the protective oxide layer on the fireside surface, the damage is more properly characterized as erosion-corrosion.) Due to the parabolic nature of the oxidation process, the fireside oxidation rate of the freshly exposed metal is increased. The rate of damage caused by the steam is related to the velocity and physical properties of the ash, the velocity of the particles and the approach or impact angle. While the damage sustained by the tube is a function of its resistance to erosion, its composition, and its operating temperature, the properties of the impinging particles are more influential in determining the rate of wall loss.


News & Views, Volume 49 | Rapid Assessment of Boiler Tubes Using Guided Wave Testing

News & Views, Volume 49 | Rapid Assessment of Boiler Tubes Using Guided Wave Testing

News & Views, Volume 49 | Rapid Assessment of Boiler Tubes Using Guided Wave TestingBy:  Jason Ven Velsor, Roger Royer, and Ben Ruchte

Tubing in conventional boilers and heat-recovery steam generators (HRSGs) can be subject to various damage mechanisms.  Under-deposit corrosion (UDC) mechanisms have wreaked havoc on conventional units for the past 40-50 years and have similarly worked their way into the more prevalent combined cycle facilities that employ HRSGs.  Water chemistry, various operational transients, extended outage periods, etc. all play a detrimental role with regards to damage development (UDC, flow-accelerated corrosion, pitting, etc.).


News & View, Volume 49 | Piping Fabricated Branch Connections

News & Views, Volume 49 | Piping Fabricated Branch Connections

By:  Ben Ruchte

Fabricated branch connections represent a common industry issue in combined cycle plants. Many are vulnerable to early damage development and have experienced failures.  Despite these challenges, a well-engineered approach exists to ensure that the baseline condition is fully documented and a life management plan is put in place to help reduce the overall risk to personnel and to help improve plant reliability.

Fabricated branch connections between large bore pipes (including headers and manifolds) are often fabricated with a reinforced branch commonly in the form of a “catalogue” (standard size) fitting, such as an ‘o-let’. These are more prevalent in today’s combined cycle environment as compared to conventional units that used forged blocks or nozzles rather than welded-on, integrally reinforced pipe fittings. The fittings are typically thicker than the pipes in which they are installed to provide compensating reinforcement for the piping run penetration. Full reinforcement is often not achieved as the current Code requirements place all of the reinforcement on the branch side of the weld joint.  As a result,  higher sustained stresses are generated and, particularly in the case of creep strength enhanced ferritic (CSEF) steels, early formation creep cracking in the weld heat-affected zone (HAZ) can occur (known as Type IV damage – see Figure 1). The well documented challenges of incorrect heat treatment of the o-let weld can also add to the likelihood of damage in CSEF components.  Damage is therefore most likely to occur in fabricated branches that operate with temperatures in the creep range.


News & Views, Volume 49 | Attemperator Monitoring with Wireless Sensors - Risk and Cost Reduction in Real Time

News & Views, Volume 49 | Attemperator Monitoring with Wireless Sensors: Risk and Cost Reduction in Real Time

News & Views, Volume 49 | Attemperator Monitoring with Wireless Sensors - Risk and Cost Reduction in Real TimeBy: Jason Van Velsor, Matt Freeman and Ben Ruchte

Installed sensors and continuous online monitoring are revolutionizing how power plants manage assets and risk by facilitating the transformation to condition-based maintenance routines. With access to near real-time data, condition assessments, and operating trends, operators have the opportunity to safely and intelligently reduce operations and maintenance costs and outage durations, maximize component lifecycles and uptime, and improve overall operating efficiency.

But not all data is created equal and determining what to monitor, where to monitor, selecting appropriate sensors, and determining data frequency are all critical decisions that impact data value. Furthermore, sensor procurement, installation services, data historian/storage, and data analysis are often provided by separate entities, which can lead to implementation challenges and disruptions to efficient data flow.