San Antonio researchers seek to prevent aerospace failures and oil spills disasters | 7/22/2019 | Staff
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In 2014, Kazakhstan's newest and largest oil field was slated to become a major contributor to the global supply. But within a month of operation, a total shutdown occurred. Without warning, large cracks appeared in its pipelines. For the next two years, the field remained idle due to costly repairs. The cause: embrittlement of the pipelines.

Like bones, oil and gas pipelines suffer from fragility and cracking. Now a group of researchers at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) propose to examine how hydrogen embrittlement conditions develop. Their research is focused on an alloy used in the oil and gas industry, but fabricated through additive manufacturing (AM).

Conditions - Oil - Gas - Industry - Embrittlement

"The operational conditions in the oil and gas industry can lead to hydrogen embrittlement. This phenomenon causes the premature failure of structures as result from hydrogen intake in the material. Hydrogen once inside the material interacts with the alloy microstructure degrading its mechanical performance and resulting on brittle fracture without any warning sign," said assistant professor Brendy Rincon Troconis in the UTSA Department of Mechanical Engineering.

AM has been embraced for many reasons on the factory floor. With the use of AM, more complex designs and materials can be created one layer at a time. AM also reduces overhead costs since parts can be assembled quickly on site, rather than keep a large expensive inventory.

Industries - AM - Researchers - Testing - Embrittlement

Although many industries are quickly adopting AM, the researchers are concerned that there hasn't been enough testing of how hydrogen embrittlement impacts the material performance of this particular metal. The San Antonio researchers will focus on the nickel-718 alloy because it can be used in critical conditions where high mechanical properties and corrosion resistance is desired.

Professor Rincon Troconis' research not only impacts the oil and gas industry. More and more AM metals are introduced in...
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