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Selecting process

piping materials
These guidelines and referenced
codes and articles aid selection of
piping for most HPI processes
R.B. Setterlund, Metallurgical Consultants, Inc. Houston


and petrochemical plants requires collaboration between the
corrosion piping and process engineers, and usually involves
more than determining if a material is compatible with a given
environment. Many questions must be answered before a pipe
and valve specification can be written. Is the alloy available in
the size and thickness required? Is it the most economical
choice? Should it be specified as seamless or welded? Is it
suitable for the maximum anticipated operating temperature or
will long-term exposure to these temperatures cause its
mechanical properties to deteriorate? Will it require special
welding or heat treatment requirements?
It should be noted at the outset that the best approach
to corrosion control may not involve the use of corrosion-
resistant alloy materials. Often adequate life can be obtained
in corrosion services with carbon steel piping in conjunction
with control of process and operating variables. In other cases,
in particular those piping systems handling corrosive fluids at
elevated temperatures, there is no alternative to corrosion-re- Fig. 1Cross section of a failed carbon steel piping weld carrying
sistant materials. Also, low or elevated temperature service caustic contaminated vacuum gas oil.
conditions can dictate the use of special materials.
General guidelines. Corrosion can be classified into three TABLE 1 Controlling stress corrosion cracking
general forms based on the type of damage that results. Some Metal Environment Common control measure
Carbon and alloy steels Caustic solutions at stress relief of welds and
types of damage can be tolerated, others cannot and it is Temperatures over 120F cold bends
important to be aware of these distinctions. The three general To over 108F depending
On concentration1 (Control of stress)
forms are: 1. uniform corrosion, 2. localized corrosion and 3.
stress corrosion cracking. Heat treated alloys with Sulfide solutions at
Hardnesses over HRC 22 ambient or elevated
Control of hardness or
selection of more
Uniform corrosion, in which metal is removed more to HRC 30 depending
temperatures resistant alloys2
on alloy group (Control of materials)
or less uniformly, is the most common form of corrosion and
the least dangerous. It is generally agreed that the maximum Austenitic stainless Chloride solution at Flushing, neutralizing,
steels with temperatures over 110F avoidance of crevices,
acceptable loss of metal due to uniform corrosion is susceptibility decreasing to 180F depending on coating
approximately 20 mils per year (mpy).1 This rate of corrosion with the more highly
alloyed grades4
chloride concentration
and alloy susceptibility (Control of environment)
is not usually desirable since high corrosion rates not only
reduce the thickness of piping but also can lead to plugging of
heat exchanger bundles and reactor screens by corrosion corrosion products. Type 304 stainless steel is often specified
deposits. Iron sulfide scale occupies a volume about seven for this service to avoid acid cleaning and to prevent rust
times the volume of metal that is removed, thus a ten in. pipe formation when the lines are drained.
corroding at 20 mpy would produce about three cubic feet of Localized corrosion involves selective removal of
loose scale per year per 100 feet of length. metal from part of the exposed metal surface. Pitting
Except where equipment becomes plugged, corrosion, crevice corrosion, galvanic corrosion and selective
contamination of process streams by corrosion products is not weld attack all fall under this category. These types of
usually as serious a problem in hydrocarbon processing plants damage are difficult to inspect for and, unlike uniform attack,
as in most chemical plants. One exception is equipment lube increased corrosion allowances are seldom an effective control
and seal oil lines which must be kept absolutely free from measure.
Fig. 2Valve stem that failed from Pipe and valve specifications. In most major projects,
sulfide stress cracking.
the preparation of the pipe and valve specifications starts in
Stress corrosion cracking the piping department of an engineering contractor. These
involves cracking of metal without engineering firms have standardized specifications which are
significant loss of metal and should usually coded to: 1. materials of construction, 2. primary
be evaluated when selecting flange pressure classification and 3. minimum allowances for
materials. Stress corrosion cracking corrosion. The codes are often subgrouped to provide for
occurs when certain metals are variations in valve trim material, types of small fittings,
exposed under a tensile stress to screwed or socket welded, or special heat treatment or
specific environments and failures material requirements. An example of a code system is shown
can occur rap- idly without below.
warning, thus it is important that
Pipe material (C indicates carbon steel
the risk be minimized. Stress pipe without special requirements)
corrosion cracking can be
prevented by 1: selecting metals
which are immune to failure (which Subgroup (C indicates carbon steel
valves with standard 12 chrome
is usually the preferred method), 2. stainless steel trim and socket weld
removal or reduction of stress or 3. fittings)
control of the environment (which C C 4
is the most risky method). Table 1
Corrosion allowance (4 indicates
illustrates how these three methods minimum corrosion allowance in
are used to control metal- 1/32s or 1/8-in. min)
environment combinations likely to
result in stress cracking failures.
Some stress corrosion cracking failures are difficult
to foresee. Fig. 1 shows a cross section of a steel pipe weld The pipe and valve specifications needed for a
that cracked in caustic-contaminated hydrocarbon at 475F. particular project are taken from the standard specification
This failure resulted from the use of contaminated stripping and, by use of a computer, are modified to meet the
steam and was overcome by operational changes. Had this not requirements of the operating company for whom the plant is
been possible, it would have been necessary to stress relieve being built. If necessary, a new pipe and valve specification
all of the welds in the piping system. may be developed to cover specific service conditions or
Most stress corrosion cracking failures, however, special requirements. As the project proceeds, these
could have been prevented using information available at the specifications are reviewed and revised. New specifications
time of design. Fig. 2 shows a stem from a new valve that are added and some specifications are dropped. Often
failed during startup of a hydrocracking unit. The valve stem specifications are discarded or combined to simplify the job by
failed during short-term exposure to 2,000 ppm H2S during standardization.
catalyst presulfiding operations. The stem was UNS S45000 It is usually desirable to employ the fewest possible
precipitation hardening stainless steel and failed due to a form different piping materials. This reduces construction costs and
of stress corrosion cracking referred to as sulfide stress is of particular interest to the maintenance departments or the
cracking (SSC). The valve stem was in the H950 condition operating company. For example, assume that one
with a hardness of Rockwell C40 making it highly susceptible specification calls for AISI 304 stainless steel pipe and another
to an SSC failure. For resistance to SSC, the S45000 valve calls for AISI 304L stainless steel pipe. If the quantity of 304
stem should have been in the Hl150 condition with a hardness stainless steel is small, it would be preferable to use only AISI
no greater than Rockwell C 31 or, alternatively, the stem could 304L stainless for both services. This eliminates the need to
have been of another SSC resistant alloy.2 Since failure can keep the two grades separated and reduces the chance of type
take place under short-term upset or transient conditions, a 304 piping being used where the lower carbon grade is needed
change to a more resistant alloy or heat treatment is usually to prevent weld zone attack. If, on the other hand, the project
the only reliable means to ensure freedom from SSC in involves the use of a large quantity of stainless steel in
refinery process units. services where ordinary type 304 has proven to be
satisfactory, then the cost of using both specifications may be
The material selection, justified.
produced by marking a process General hydrocarbons. The term "general
flow diagram, shows the hydrocarbons" refers to those hydrocarbon services where
composition, temperature and corrosion would not be expected and special requirements are
pressure of each process stream not needed. Hydrocarbons, by themselves, are not corrosive at
along with its appropriate the temperatures at which they are normally processed.
material of construction. Corrosion results from impurities in the hydrocarbon such as
chloride salts, organic acids, water and sulfur compounds or
by- products formed from breakdown of these impurities. containing organic chlorides without problems. This plant,
Also, chemicals added to hydrocarbons during processing, however, required that the minimum design temperature be
such as NaOH and H2SO4, may require the use of special reduced from -20F to -40F.
metals and/or certain precautions.5 The stainless steel piping was replaced in a matter of
The piping and valve specifications for general days using pipe from stock. Since the pressure in the failed
hydrocarbon service are most often written around ASTM A line was sufficiently low, ordinary A 53 Grade B pipe could
53 Grade B or A 106 Grade B seamless pipe, more familiar to be used without changing the -40F design temperature. Had
pipefitters as "black iron" pipe. The basic specification for impact tested material been required, the replacement may
petroleum refinery service will require that valves have cast have taken weeks or months.
steel bodies with stainless steel trim, usually 12% chromium Hydrocarbon-sulfur. At elevated temperature, iron
stainless steel. reacts chemically with elemental sulfur and/or sulfur
Specifications for less severe service may allow cast compounds to form iron sulfide. The corrosiveness of the
iron flanged valves under the limits for ductile cast iron and sulfur bearing hydrocarbons, unlike chemical mixtures, is not
for gray cast iron shown in ASME B 31.3, "Chemical Plant proportional to the weight percent sulfur. The reason for this is
and Petroleum Refinery Piping Code." Standard A 53 Grade B that the sulfur may be present in various forms such as
pipe is widely available and low in cost, can be bent hot and elemental sulfur, hydrogen sulfide, aliphatic sulfides, aromatic
cold, and cut and welded using simple methods and minimal sulfides, polysulfides, mercaptans and disulfides, all with
precautions. Carbon steel pipe has relatively high strength and different potentials for causing corrosion. At elevated
ductility, adequate toughness for most applications, and fair temperatures many organic sulfides break down to form
resistance to corrosion in a wide range of environments. hydrogen sulfide or sulfur which reacts with metal surfaces.
Changes from basic pipe specifications should be carefully Lighter molecules tend to promote corrosion more readily than
considered since any material substitution made to obtain an heavier sulfur compounds, some of which, because of their
improvement in either strength, toughness or corrosion stability, are essentially noncorrosive.7
resistance, will usually involve increased cost and decreased Sulfide corrosion is strongly temperature dependent.
availability. Some hydrocarbon services, however, require The sulfidation rate decreases in proportion to the amount of
alternative materials. One example is piping to handle hydro- chromium in the steel (Fig. 3).10 These curves have been
carbon at temperatures below ambient. drawn based on modified data from a 1963 American
Low temperature service. The fracture toughness of Petroleum Institute paper, "High Temperature Sulfidic
carbon steel and ferritic alloys decreases with decreasing Corrosion in Hydrogen-Free Environment."11 In crude
metal temperature.6 This phenomenon is the basis for the fractionation units, carbon steel is relatively unaffected by
corrosion at temperatures below 500F to 550F and marginal
20F minimum temperature limit in Appendix A of the
in performance at temperatures between 550F and 650F. 8
ANSI B 31.3 piping code. Some ferritic materials such as The most common carbon- to-alloy steel break temperature is
structural grade steels without chemistry limits and ductile and 550F, but some refiners will require the use of alloy steel at
malleable iron cannot be used below this temperature, but temperatures as low as 500F, while others have used carbon
most ferritic steels can be used to a lower temperature steel up to 600F. When carbon steel is used in contact with
provided they are stress relieved and qualified by impact sulfur over 500F it is common to specify silicon-killed grades
testing. such as ASTM A 106 pipe and A 105 fittings. Steels with
The B 31.3 code has an important exclusion to the 0.15% to 0.30% silicon have been shown to be greatly
impact test requirement based on the fact that brittle fracture superior to steels with under 0.1% silicon in some
initiation is related to the level of applied stress. Impact testing environments.9
is not required for temperatures between -20F and -50F
provided the actual stress is less than 25% of the allowable
stress above -20F. This exclusion should be applied with care
and post weld stress relief is advised as a precautionary
measure even though it is not mandated by the B 31.3 code.
Austenitic grades of stainless steel, provided they are
in the solution treated condition and contain less than 0.10%
carbon, can be used to temperatures down to -325F without
being impact tested. Liquefied natural gas as well as other
refrigerated hydrocarbons are often handled in austenitic
stainless steel pipe. Since austenitic stainless steel can be
taken "off the shelf" and applied directly to low temperature
service without special tests, there is a temptation to employ it
automatically for temperatures under -20F. This may lead to
unexpected problems, as illustrated by chloride stress-
corrosion cracking failures which recently occurred shortly
after the startup of a chemical plant. Three similar plants had
been constructed using A 53 B pipe to handle solutions
Fig. 3Effect of chromium content of steel on high temperature
. 10
corrosion rate in a hydrogen free environment
Hydrocarbon-organic acids. In crude distillation units, the
Standard A 53 Grade B pipe has no silicon requirements corrosion rate may be greatly affected by various organic acids
and can be furnished with or without silicon which resulted in present in petroleum stocks. These acids, referred to as
a 1986 failure having tragic consequences. A short section of napthenic acid, can cause severe corrosion to refinery piping
standard weight NPS 4 ASTM A 53 Grade B pipe was added and equipment operating at temperatures between 400F and
in the field to correct an interference problem. The added pipe 700F. 12
had only 0.016% silicon while the remaining shop spooled At higher temperatures, naphthenic acids are decomposed
pipe had 0.17% silicon or higher. The line carried hydrocarbon and do not contribute to corrosion of units downstream of the
with 0.06% sulfur at a temperature of 610F. A large number crude unit. Type 316 stainless steel is widely used to resist
of wall thickness readings had shown adequate wall thickness, naphthenic acid corrosion, however, under some conditions
however, no thickness readings had been made on the field- lower priced alloys may be suitable. A recent paper by Piehl
added splice section. After many years of operation the short gives current information on this complex subject and should
section was thinned (Fig. 4), and failed due to fluid pressure be reviewed prior to making decisions on materials for
resulting in a fire with fatalities. handling naphthenic acid crude.13
The workhorse alloy in petroleum refining is one Water-hydrogen sulfide. Another service conditiop
containing 5% chromium and 0.5% molybdenum. This alloy, calling for a separate specification is piping for either water or
often called simply "5 chrome," has a sulfidation rate of about wet gas containing hydrogen sulfide. While carbon steel with
one-third that of carbon steel, allowing it to be used in the extra corrosion allowance is usually suitable on the basis of
important 525F to 675F temperature range. Alloy steels. metal loss, consideration must be made for the hydrogen that
with lower chromium contents such as 1-1/4 Cr-0.5 Mo and 2- is charged into the steel due to corrosion in the presence of
1/4 Cr-l Mo steels are seldom employed for their corrosion sulfide ions.
resistance in hydrocarbon plus sulfur environments. These The primary consideration for sour service should be
alloys are primarily used either for very high temperature, avoidance of hard valve components to avoid sulfide stress
noncorrosive services or for service in high temperature, high cracking as illustrated by the broken stem shown in Fig. 2.
pressure hydrogen environments, as discussed later. Sulfide stress cracking of valve components can have serious
In applications where corrosion rates are too severe for 5 consequences especially when it involves the valve stem. Not
Cr-0.5 Mo steel, either 7 Cr-0.5 Mo or 9 Cr-1 Mo alloy steels only is there a chance of leakage but an open gate valve can
may be used. At present 7 chrome steel is rarely produced and, fail closed and shut off a line. For this reason it is good
when it is used either 9 chrome (A 217 Grade C12) or 12 practice to make all process valves inherently SSC resistant.
chrome (A 217 Grade CA15) castings must be specified for This can be done by referencing NACE Standard MR0175-90
valve bodies. on the valve purchase order, however, a more direct and less
time consuming method is to list approved valves by
manufacturer and model numbers and to review proposed
substitutions on an item-by-item basis.
Another NACE standard that in the writer's opinion
should be used for all applications, sour or not, is NACE
Standard RP0472-87, "Methods and Controls to Prevent In-
Service Cracking of Carbon Steel Welds in P-1 Materials in
Corrosive Petroleum Refining Environments." This standard
recommends that welds not exceed 200 Brinell hardness (HE)
and further, that postweld heat treatment (PWHT) of
weldments be considered.
It has been established over the past several years that
even welds of normal hardness are not immune to cracking in
Fig. 4 Cross section of a failed carbon steel piping weld carrying wet sulfide environments.14 While considerable attention has
naptha with 0.06% sulfur. been given to cracking of pressure vessel welds in wet sulfide
environments, failures of piping welds have been rare. A
possible explanation is the symmetry of piping welds which
produce a more even residual stress pattern than in pressure
vessel welds. One of the rare failures, shown in Fig. 5, took
place in a fitting-to-pipe weld and was largely attributable to
bending stresses. This weld had a hardness under 200 Brinell
but had not been postweld heat treated. No cracks were
detected in pipe-to-pipe welds which had similar hardnesses
but lower applied stress. Despite the rarity of problems, it is
common practice to stress relieve piping for wet sulfide
Fig. 5Cross section of a failed carbon steel piping weld carrying
wet sour hydrocarbon.
Hydrocarbon-hydrogen. Hydrogen at high temperature
and high pressure can permeate steel, and when the conditions
are severe enough, react with metal carbides in the
microstructure. Two types of damage are possible: 1. surface
decarburization, which may not be serious, and 2. subsurface
decarburization, which results in internal fissures that make
the steel unsuitable for safe operation.
Alloy steels containing chromium and/or molybdenum
contain carbides more resistant to reduction by hydrogen. The
limits for various alloys in terms of metal temperature and
hydrogen partial pressure are contained in API Publication
941, "Steels for Hydrogen Service at Elevated Temperatures
and Pressures in Petroleum Refineries and Petrochemical
Plants." The operating limit chart contained in API Publication
941, referred to as the Nelson curve, was developed over the
past 30 years and finds application not only in petroleum
refinery units but also in plants that manufacture ammonia,
methanol, edible oils and higher alcohols.
The Nelson curve is based on the partial pressure of
hydrogen in the vapor phase and the maximum anticipated
metal temperature. The user should ensure that the correct
Fig. 7 Effect of chromium content of steel on the high
process information and the latest revision are used. The temperature corrosion rate in hydrogen-hydrogen sulfide.

carbon-l/2% molybdenum limit was lowered in 1977 and

because of subsequent problems at temperatures below this
limit, the current revision contains a warning against the use of Hydrocarbon-hydrogen-hydrogen sulfide. Hydro-
carbon-l/2% molybdenum steel in high temperature re-former treating reactor inlet-outlet piping involves exposure of steels
units. 15 to H2S in the presence of hydrogen. There are various types of
When alloy steels are required by API 941 it is not only hydrotreaters, which is a general term to describe the catalytic
necessary to specify chromium-molybdenum alloy pipe but desulfurization, treating or cracking of hydrocarbons with
also to ensure that all components and welds are of the correct hydrogen. All the processes are similar and operate with
composition. In the example shown in Fig. 6, a section of reaction temperatures of around 700F to 850F. The
carbon steel pipe had been welded into a 2-1/4 Cr-l Mo steel operating pressures vary from 400 psig for units designed to
line. The carbon steel failed by high temperature hydrogen desulfurize light hydrocarbon streams to over 2,500 psig in
attack after 10 years. hydrocrackers designed to break heavy hydrocarbons into
more valuable, lighter hydrocarbons. The piping for these two
units may contain similar amounts of hydrogen sulfide but the
pipe materials may differ.
The solid lines in Fig. 7 illustrate the relative corrosion rates
of steels with varying chromium contents in naphtha
desulfurizer piping.16 As shown by the shape of the curves,
chromium is not nearly as effective in reducing corrosion as in
hydrogen-free atmospheres. Nevertheless, 9Cr-1 Mo alloy
steel is often used for reactor effluent piping. Another material
sometimes used is 12% chromium ferritic stainless steel (type
410), however, type 410 stainless steel will undergo a loss of
room temperature ductility and toughness on long-term expo-
sure to temperatures over 700F through an aging process
called "885 embrittlement." The 831.3 code contains a
warning but does not prohibit its use over this temperature.
One major refiner has made extensive use of centrifugally cast
type 410 stainless steel piping. Extruded type 410 stainless
steel pipe had operated for over 25 years at temperatures over
700F in units used to desulfurize synthetic crude oil from tar
The most frequently used material for high
temperature hydrotreater piping is austenitic stainless steel,
usually the titanium-stabilized type 321 grade. Austenitic
Fig.6Cross section of a failed piping weld carrying hydrogen at
800 to 880F. stainless steels are not susceptible to 885 embrittlement and
have excellent ductility and toughness even after long-term pressure of approximately 800 psig. The feed is assumed to
service. Austenitic stainless steels are susceptible to stress contain 6,000 ppm of sulfur. Some of the factors involved in
corrosion cracking when exposed to chloride environments selecting materials for the various operating conditions
and Appendix F of the 831.3 code contains a precautionary indicated by the numbered locations on the diagram are
warning against their use when chlorides are known to be discussed in the following paragraphs.
Hydrocrackers and heavy gas oil desulfurizers
present a more limited choice of piping materials than naphtha
desulfurizers, as shown by the dashed lines in Fig. 7. Nine
chrome steel is not acceptable and while 12 chrome stainless
steel has an acceptably low corrosion rate, its low code stress
values make it less attractive than austenitic grades of stainless
steel. Also, its low toughness becomes more significant as the
thickness of the pipe increases.
For hydrocrackers, where costs may exceed several
thou- sand dollars per linear foot of pipe, a more economical
alternative to extruded heavy wall type 321 stainless steel pipe
is centrifugally cast " HF modified" piping. Type HF modified
is a casting alloy developed for this application.17 It contains
more carbon than wrought 18-8 grades of austenitic stainless
steel which makes the metal more fluid at casting temperatures
and improves quality. Also, it is chemically balanced to
produce a two-phase ferritic-austenitic microstructure which
ensures the production of sound, crack-free castings. The high
chromium content gives the alloy very high resistance to high
temperature sulfide corrosion, however, it causes the alloy to
lose toughness after elevated temperature service. The loss of
toughness is kept to within acceptable levels by controlling the
ferrite level to under 15%. The usual composition of HF Fig. 8Simplified material selection diagram for the high pressure
modified is: portion of a gas oil desulfurizer.

Chromium 21% to 25%

Nickel 6.5% to 11% 1. Five-chrome alloy steel with a 1/8-in. corrosion
Carbon 0.15% to 0.20% allowance is the minimum requirement for pipe transporting
Ferrite 5% to 15% hot charge oil from the shell of the feed effluent heat
exchanger to the hydrogen-rich recycle gas mixing point. The
Due to its high chromium content and two-phase gas oil is free from hydrogen but contains hydrogen sulfide.
microstructure, type HF modified stainless steel is highly Fig. 3 indicates a corrosion rate of 10 to 12 mpy for 5 chrome
resistant to chloride stress cracking. It has lower ductility than steel at the 663F operating temperature. If the temperature
wrought type 321 stainless steel and cannot be formed into had been significantly higher, either a higher corrosion
bends. Straight lengths of pipe as well as flanges and other allowance or the use of 9 Cr-l Mo steel would have been
shapes can be produced by centrifugal casting, but other required. This is the only area where 5 chrome steel is called
shapes such as elbows may have to be statically cast with for, therefore, if the line was very short it may be preferable to
some resultant sacrifice in properties. employ type 321 stainless steel to reduce the number of alloys
Material selection diagram. An effective means to express 2. Type 321 austenitic stainless steel with 1/16-in.
the consensus among the corrosion engineer, the piping corrosion allowance is shown for the reactor inlet and outlet
engineer and the process engineer is the material selection piping. The predicted corrosion rate at the 747F outlet
diagram. The material selection, produced by marking a temperature is approximately 2 mpy for 18-8 stainless steel,
process flow diagram, shows the composition, temperature however, the rate for 5 chrome steel would be over 50 mpy
and pressure of each process stream along with its appropriate (Fig. 7). This selection assumes that appreciable chlorides are
material of construction. The drawing can be extended to not present. The flanged valves would be grade CF 8M
show the code number of the appropriate piping and valve stainless steel which is equivalent to type 316 since this is the
specifications. Corrosion allowances are usually shown along product form for which valves are normally supplied.
with inhibitor and water wash injection points and locations 3. Low alloy 1-1/4 Cr-l/2 Mo steel is selected for piping
for corrosion-indicating instruments. To illustrate, Fig. 8 in and out of the hot high pressure separator. The operating
shows a simplified material selection diagram for the high temperature is not high enough to require protection from
pressure loop of a gas oil desulfurizer designed to operate at a sulfur corrosion, but is high enough to cause hydrogen attack
in carbon steel. (Maximum rather than average conditions 12. "Corrosion of Refinery Equipment by Naphthenic Acid," Materials
should always be used in conjunction with the API 941 Protection, Vol. 2, No 9, 1963.
13. Piehl, R. L., "Naphthenic Acid Corrosion in Crude Distillation Units,"
hydrogen curves.) Materials Performance, Vol. 27, No 1, 1988.
4. The piping carrying liquid out of the bottom of the 14. Merrick, R D, "Refinery Experiences with Cracking in Wet H2S
hot high pressure separator is carbon steel because of the Environments," ibid.
15. "Steels for Hydrogen Service at Elevated Temperatures and Pressures in
lowered hydrogen content. The pressure letdown valve in this
Petroleum Refineries and Petrochemical Plants," API Publication 941,
line as well as downstream piping are specified to be stainless Third Edition, American Petroleum Institute, Washington, D.C., 1983.
steel to guard against corrosion/erosion by hot flashing H2S 16. Couper, A.S., and Gorman, J.W., "New Computer Correlations to
liquids. Sulfide corrosion is velocity dependent and the use of Estimate Corrosion of Steels by Refinery Streams Containing Hydrogen
Sulfide," Paper 67, National Association of Corrosion Engineers, 26th
carbon or low alloy steel is questionable. In this example, the Annual Conference, March 2, 1970.
letdown valve would be located to minimize the footage of 17. Prescott, G.R. and Heller, J.J., "Application of a Modified HF Alloy for
expensive stainless steel piping. Hydrocracker Service," Materials Protection, Vol. 7, No.3, 1968.
5. The mixture of sulfides, ammonia compounds and 18. Piehl, R.L., "Survey of Corrosion in Hydrocracker Effluent Air
water in the downstream piping can produce serious Coolers," Materials Performance, Vol. 15, No.1, 1976
corrosion.17 In this case, it was determined that carbon steel
with a high corrosion allowance could be employed provided
the fluid velocity was limited. In addition, injection facilities
were installed for wash water and for inhibitors to control
fouling and corrosion.
6. The hydrogen partial pressure in the recycle gas was
under 700 psig and the use of alloys was not required at the
maximum operating temperature of the recycle gas piping. To
prevent hydrogen attack resulting from the recycle gas being
further heated, the break point between carbon and stainless
steel was specified to be located well back from the mixing

Precautions. It is hoped that the information in this brief

paper will aid the engineer concerned with the selection and
specification of piping for refinery and petrochemical service.
The charts and examples in this article have been simplified
and are intended only to illustrate concepts. Engineers
involved in specifying materials should refer to the data
contained in the original articles and standards before actually
selecting material for process piping.

1. Corrosion Data Surry, 5th edition. National Association of Corrosion
Engineers, Houston, Texas, 1974
2. "Sulfide Stress Cracking Resistant Metallic Material for Oil Field
Equipment," NACE Standard MR0175-90, National Association of
Corrosion Engineers, Houston, Texas, 1990.
3. Fraser, J P and Treseder, R S.. "Cracking of High Strength Steels in
Hydrogen Sulfide Solutions," Corrosion, Vol. 8, 1952
4. Couper, A. S. and McConomy, H. F., "Stress Corrosion Cracking of
Austenitic Stainless Steels in Refineries," Proceedings of API Division
of Refining, 1966
5. Gutzeit, J., "Corrosion in Petroleum Refineries," Process Industries
Corrosion, NACE, 1988
6. Metals Handbook, Volume I, Ninth Edition, American Society for
Metals, Metals Park, Ohio,1978.
7. "'High Temperature Crude Oil Corrosivity Studies," API Publication
943, American Petroleum Institute, Washington, D.C., 1974.
8. Humphries, M. J. and Sorel, G., "Corrosion Control in Crude Oil
Distillation Units," Materials Performance, Vol. 15, No.2, 1976.
9. Minutes of the Refining Industry Corrosion Group Committee T-8,
National Association of Corrosion Engineers, 22nd Annual Conference,
April 20, 1966.
10. Gutzeit, J., "High Temperature Sulfide Corrosion of Steels," Process
Industries Corrosion, NACE, 1988.
11. McConomy, H F., "High Temperature Sulfidic Corrosion in Hydrogen-
Free Environment," Proceedings of API Division of Refining, May 1963