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Industry Headlines

LyondellBasell to Build the World's Largest PO/TBA Plant

Friday, 21 July 2017  |  Chris Guy

LyondellBasell has made the final investment decision to build the world's largest propylene oxide (PO) and tertiary butyl alcohol (TBA) plant in the ...

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How to Choose the Best Rapid Prototyping Method

How to Choose the Best Rapid Prototyping Method

Tuesday, 18 July 2017  |  Kate Kunkel

As new products are designed, including valve bodies and the parts that comprise the finished valve, prototypes must be created. How that is achieved ...

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Industry Headlines

Badger Alloys Joins VMA as Associate Member

4 DAYS AGO

This week the Valve Manufacturers Association (VMA) welcomes Badger Alloys as an official associate supplier member. This is VMA’s fourth new member in 2017.

Located in the heart of Milwaukee and founded in 1966, Badger Alloys offers single source capabilities for custom castings. The company pou...

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Thermodyn Joins VMA as Associate Member

4 DAYS AGO

This week the Valve Manufacturers Association (VMA) welcomes Thermodyn Corporation as an official associate supplier member. This is VMA's third new member in 2017.

In 1979, Thermodyn began business with the dual purpose of selling A.W. Chesterton products and manufacturing high-temperature elastomers ...

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LyondellBasell to Build the World's Largest PO/TBA Plant

1 DAY AGO

LyondellBasell has made the final investment decision to build the world's largest propylene oxide (PO) and tertiary butyl alcohol (TBA) plant in the Houston area. The project is estimated to cost approximately $2.4 billion, representing the single-largest capital investment in the company's history...

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EPA Selects Projects for Water Infrastructure Loans

2 DAYS AGO

The EPA is inviting 12 projects in nine states to apply for Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loans. These potential applicants were selected from a group of projects that represent large and small communities from across the U.S. that submitted letters of interest to EPA in Ap...

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Leading Economic Indicators Increased in June

1 DAY AGO

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index (LEI) for the U.S. increased 0.6% in June to 127.8 (2010 = 100), following a 0.2% increase in May, and a 0.2% increase in April.

“The U.S. LEI rose sharply in June, pointing to continued growth in the U.S. economy and perhaps even a moderate improvement...

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U.S. Jobless Claims Fall to Near Five-Month Low

2 DAYS AGO

In the week ending July 15, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 233,000, a decrease of 15,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 1,000 from 247,000 to 248,000. The 4-week moving average was 243,750, a decrease of 2,250 from t...

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Cobalt-base Alloy 6

materials_q_and_a_graphicQ: Is there a problem using cobalt-base Alloy 6 material in amine applications in refineries and gas treatment plants?

A: This is a very good question, and the answer may be somewhat surprising to many people.

The Materials Q&A column in the Winter 2006 issue of Valve Magazine covered erosion-corrosion issues that can occur when cobalt-base Alloy 6 is used for boiler feedwater service in power plants. To review, boiler feedwater is often treated with amine compounds to deoxygenate the water, which reduces the corrosion rates in the steel piping system. It has been theorized (but not proven) that the presence of the amine compounds somehow prevents the reformation of the oxide passive layer on the Alloy 6 after it has been removed by high-velocity flow impingement. What is not understood is why this only occurs in cobalt alloys and not in other materials (such as austenitic stainless steels) that also rely on an oxide passive layer for corrosion protection.

In refineries, amine compounds are used to absorb unwanted dissolved gases—primarily hydrogen sulfide (H2S)—from liquid hydrocarbons. In natural gas treatment plants, the amine compounds are used to absorb H2S and carbon dioxide (CO2). This process is usually called “sweetening.” The most commonly-used compounds in these applications are the alkanolamines—monoethanolamine (MEA), diethanolamine (DEA) and methyldiethanolamine (MDEA).

The gaseous or liquid hydrocarbon is passed up through an absorber, and the amine fluid is passed in a counterflow direction (i.e., down) through the absorber. The unwanted H2S (and CO2 in the case of natural gas) are absorbed by the amine solution, which results in what is called “rich amine.”

In common systems, the rich amine exits the bottom of the absorber and passes through a rich amine letdown valve, where the pressure drop causes the gases to come out of solution.

Commonly, an amine regenerator valve is present that eventually takes a second pressure drop going into the regenerator. Some outgassing also occurs at this valve, but not to the same extent as is present in the rich amine letdown valve.

The regenerator produces what is called “lean” amine solution, which is then recirculated to the absorber.

Valves controlling the lean amine solution are not susceptible to sulfide stress cracking, and not especially susceptible to corrosion (because no H2S or CO2 is present). However, they do tend to be susceptible to cavitation because of the large pressure drops. These valves are usually supplied with anti-cavitation trim in standard hardened stainless-steel materials.

Valves controlling the rich amine are susceptible to both corrosion and sulfide stress cracking because of the H2S (and CO2 in gas treatment) and are susceptible to erosion damage because of the two-phase flow caused by the outgassing. Therefore, it would be favorable to be able to use a trim material in these valves that is known to be resistant to corrosion and sulfide stress cracking and resistant to erosion by the two-phase flow. Alloy 6 is famous for its resistance to various types of mechanical damage, including cavitation damage, flashing damage (which is similar to the two-phase gas-liquid erosion mechanism encountered here) and galling. It’s also commonly used in applications where sulfide stress cracking is a concern. The big question is, how well does Alloy 6 hold up against corrosion, given the fact that there are amines present in the fluid?

One might theorize that the Alloy 6 would suffer the same erosion-corrosion damage in the rich amine solution as it does in boiler feedwater applications. After all, the amines would scavenge oxygen from the water in the amine solution just as they do in boiler feedwater applications.

Deoxygenation does actually occur. In fact, the theory is this may be the reason for the successful use of 316 stainless steel in gas sweetening systems where temperatures and chloride levels would seem elevated enough to cause chloride stress corrosion cracking (SCC). It is known that as dissolved oxygen decreases, the tendency to suffer chloride SCC decreases. Elimination of dissolved oxygen may be the reason that SCC does not occur.

Despite the fact that theory would indicate a danger of erosion-corrosion for Alloy 6 in these applications, experience has indicated that this material actually works very well. There are literally thousands of control valves installed in rich amine letdown service and amine regenerator service that use Alloy 6 trim components. These valves include Alloy 6 in all the various product forms—solid cast components (UNS R30006), solid wrought components (UNS R30016) and hardface overlays (AWS CoCr-A), and they all work well in practice.

In other words, there is no reason to restrict the use of Alloy 6 trim materials in amine applications in refining and gas treatment systems. Save those restrictions for boiler feedwater applications.


Don Bush is principal materials engineer, Advanced Technology Group, Fisher Division, Emerson Process Management.

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