Corrosion and erosion are the stealth enemy of pipes. Attacking invisibly, if left unaddressed, the damage can be catastrophic. Nicola Curtis explores how different solutions are tackling this increasing problem, both inside and out.
From food and beverage to oil and gas, pharmaceuticals to plastics, at the heart of every process plant lies a complex network of pipes and connectors. As the efficiency of each plant is highly dependent on its ability to successfully transport process fluid to various equipment to function collectively, this maze of non-descript tubing fulfils a fundamental role.
Taking care of such a crucial asset needs to be a top priority for any plant operator as pipe failure can negatively impact not only operational integrity and running costs but, in extreme cases, may also put people at risk and may be responsible for significant environmental damage.
Unfortunately, operators today are working against a backdrop of smaller budgets and fewer staff and are under constant pressure to improve financial performance. With outputs, in many cases, also higher than originally planned – facilities are being driven to breaking point.
One of the biggest challenges in maintaining pipes and connectors is keeping corrosion and erosion at bay. Attacking invisibly both phenomena, if left unmonitored, lead to leaks and operational failure which, in turn, result in unplanned operational shutdowns and profit losses.
Corrosion is an increasing problem, particularly in refineries. All crude oil contains some level of corrosive contaminants but the higher the sulphur content the more likely it is to destroy a pipe. As the oil and gas industry shifts its production to fields where sulphur and other corrosive agents are more abundant, so the issue gets worse.
Additionally problematic is the serious issue of corrosion under insulation (CUI). A dilemma for all process industries, again it is the oil and gas industries that feel the impact most sharply. Miles of inaccessible pipelines combined with the possibility of calamitous consequences if a pipe develops a leak mean CUI is a big deal for oil and gas operators.
Wireless data retrieval enables cost-effective deployment at scale, class-leading data visualisation and analysis software, and connected services for our clients to fully monitor their corrosion and erosion challenges to drive maximum capability and profitability in their plant assets
Jake Davies, global product director, Emerson Corrosion and Erosion Solutions
Fortunately, as a variety of sophisticated monitoring solutions become available, keeping an accurate check on corrosion and erosion both inside a pipe and on the outside becomes easier.
Employing a corrosion monitoring solution that monitors for fluid corrosivity as well as assessing the remaining thickness of the fixed equipment will enable operators to drive their plant to its maximum capability.
Emerson has introduced a complete corrosion and erosion monitoring portfolio with digital capabilities and full integration with the Plantweb digital ecosystem through the new Rosemount 4390 series of corrosion and erosion wireless transmitters and Plantweb Insight Non-Intrusive Corrosion application.
The monitoring portfolio turns existing offline corrosion probes into online tools to monitor for the risk of corrosion or erosion in oil and gas processing.
Combined with Emerson’s range of non-intrusive Rosemount Wireless Permasense sensors for monitoring metal thickness, which is a major factor in determining the health of piping and other fixed equipment, Emerson now offers a comprehensive solution to monitor both the risk of corrosion or erosion, and the impact of that risk on the health of the plant or asset.
The new Plantweb Insight Non-Intrusive Corrosion application for non-intrusive corrosion monitoring complements the existing suite of Plantweb Insight applications, enabling comprehensive corrosion and erosion analysis at the end user’s desk.
When instrumented with inline probes, changes in corrosion risk can be detected in minutes, enabling sites to take corrective action before damage occurs. The Rosemount 4390 series of corrosion and erosion transmitters leverage WirelessHART for reliable and robust data retrieval and work with Emerson’s inline probes that measure the corrosive and erosive nature of the fluid and provide early risk detection for a site.
The Plantweb Insight Corrosion applications allow users to access and analyse data from pipe thickness monitoring sensors and inline probes at their desk and gain real-time advanced analytics to assess the risk and impact of corrosion or erosion on the asset or plant.
“Launching these products augments Emerson’s existing corrosion and erosion monitoring capability within our Plantweb ecosystem.
“Wireless data retrieval enables cost-effective deployment at scale, class-leading data visualisation and analysis software, and connected services for our clients to fully monitor their corrosion and erosion challenges to drive maximum capability and profitability in their plant assets,” says Jake Davies, global product director, Emerson Corrosion and Erosion Solutions.
The launch of Emerson’s complete suite of digital solutions for operators monitoring corrosion and erosion allows plants to be driven to their full potential while operators avoid costly incidents.
CorrosionRADAR Ltd (CR) specialises in providing CUI monitoring systems based on unique patented technology known as Electro-Magnetic Guided Radar (EMGR).
The main products in their growing portfolio are the Corrosion Monitoring System and the Moisture Monitoring System which are important enablers for the move towards Predictive Corrosion Management (PCM).
They are recent winners of the prestigious Materials Performance (MP)/Association for Materials Protection and Performance (formerly NACE) Corrosion Innovation of the Year Award for their Predictive CUI Monitoring System – a next generation technology solution [pictured above].
Co-inventor of EMGR, which underpins the system, and chief technology officer of CorrosionRADAR, Prafull Sharma comments: “We are thrilled that the CorrosionRADAR Predictive CUI Monitoring System has been selected by the panel as a winner of these highly respected awards.
“Our team has received tremendous support from the asset integrity and corrosion industry and our technology partners both at the development stage and in the roll-out of the system at plants across the globe. This award reflects the hard work contributed by everyone in creating an exciting digital product with the potential to completely change the industry approach to managing corrosion under insulation.”
The winning solution combines real-time field data and predictive analytics generated via wireless sensing waveguides embedded under the asset insulation, with quality, integrity and risk-based inspection methodologies to drive repair or rehabilitation schedules.
For operators this means a more sustainable future with informed decision making, optimised maintenance programmes, safer and more reliable operations with decreased risk, and more production uptime. The integrated system is equally suitable for existing plants and incorporation in new build.
The company is accelerating the roll-out of PCM with the launch of an accessible StarterPACK for the oil and gas, petrochemical and chemical industries. StarterPACK combines the unique functionalities of CorrosionRADAR’s moisture and corrosion monitoring systems in one package, with a user-friendly analytics dashboard.
Appreciating what is going on in relation to erosion and corrosion in a plant and then acting appropriately in response will generate significant returns. From safety improvements as leaks and product releases decline to less downtime as plant availability increases with fewer unplanned outages. As all the factors begin to add up operations become safer, more sustainable, and ultimately more profitable.