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51318-11098- Microbial Assisted Cracking of Admiralty Brass Tubes from Lube Oil Cooler

This work investigates unexpected leaks observed on several cracked admiralty brass tubes that failed after 7 years in operation. Both metallurgical and molecular microbiological methods were used to understand the root cause of these failures.

Product Number: 51318-11098-SG
Author: Yousif Al Rabie / Khalid Al-Nabulsi / Faisal Al-Abbas
Publication Date: 2018
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Cooling systems are prone to many corrosion deterioration mechanisms, one of which is Microbiologically Influenced Corrosion (MIC). Microbes are ubiquitous, they have been implicated in many major failures, and their control measures have a high economic impact on the oil and gas industry. This work investigates unexpected leaks observed on several cracked admiralty brass tubes that failed after 7 years in operation. Both metallurgical and molecular microbiological methods were used to understand the root cause of these failures. Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) analysis in all examined tubes (Cu-Zn alloy) showed localized pitting associated with cracks. X-Ray Diffraction (XRD) analysis carried out on the corrosion products confirmed presence of ammonic compounds (copper nitrate hydroxide-Cu2(NO)3(OH)3). The quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) technique used for microbiological DNA analysis revealed the coexistence of various strains of Sulfate Reducing Archaea (SRA), Acid Producing Bacteria (APB), Iron Reducing Bacteria (IRB) and Denitrifying Bacteria (DNB). It was postulated the lube oil cooler failed due to microbial assisted cracking driven by a collaborative metabolic reaction by the presence of microbial community. The study resulted in the development of a comprehensive control and monitoring plan to safeguard the integrity of the system and prevent damage recurrence in similar systems.

Keywords: Microbial, MIC, Cracking, SCC, Integrity

Cooling systems are prone to many corrosion deterioration mechanisms, one of which is Microbiologically Influenced Corrosion (MIC). Microbes are ubiquitous, they have been implicated in many major failures, and their control measures have a high economic impact on the oil and gas industry. This work investigates unexpected leaks observed on several cracked admiralty brass tubes that failed after 7 years in operation. Both metallurgical and molecular microbiological methods were used to understand the root cause of these failures. Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) analysis in all examined tubes (Cu-Zn alloy) showed localized pitting associated with cracks. X-Ray Diffraction (XRD) analysis carried out on the corrosion products confirmed presence of ammonic compounds (copper nitrate hydroxide-Cu2(NO)3(OH)3). The quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) technique used for microbiological DNA analysis revealed the coexistence of various strains of Sulfate Reducing Archaea (SRA), Acid Producing Bacteria (APB), Iron Reducing Bacteria (IRB) and Denitrifying Bacteria (DNB). It was postulated the lube oil cooler failed due to microbial assisted cracking driven by a collaborative metabolic reaction by the presence of microbial community. The study resulted in the development of a comprehensive control and monitoring plan to safeguard the integrity of the system and prevent damage recurrence in similar systems.

Keywords: Microbial, MIC, Cracking, SCC, Integrity

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