Inspectioneering Journal

XRF Inspection of Piping Systems to Reduce Sulfidation Corrosion Risk

By John Morgan at Thermo Fisher Scientific, and William Fotoples at Thermo Fisher Scientific. This article appears in the March/April 2013 issue of Inspectioneering Journal.


Sulfidic corrosion of piping and equipment within the refining industry continues to be a significant cause of leaks and issues that can lead to early replacements, unplanned outages, and incidents potentially resulting in loss of property and injury to workers. Carbon steels with low silicon (<0.10%) content have been shown to corrode at an accelerated rate when exposed to sulfidation corrosion conditions1.

Figure 1. An inspector using a handheld XRF analyzer on piping.
Figure 1. An inspector using a handheld XRF analyzer on piping.

According to the American Petroleum Institute (API) Recommended Practice 939-C (Guidelines for Avoiding Sulfidation Corrosion Failures in Oil Refineries), one-third of high-temperature sulfidic corrosion failures are the result of low silicon content in piping2. API RP 939-C is a subcomponent of the larger API RP 578 (Material Verification Program for New and Existing Alloy Piping Systems) Positive Material Identification (PMI) program – the verification of correct alloy installation in all sulfidation surfaces, both proactive and reactive.

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