Microstructural investigation of vintage pipeline steels highly susceptible to stress corrosion cracking

Monica Torres, University of Texas at El Paso


The use of pipelines for the transmission of gas offers not only efficiency, but a number of economic advantages. Nevertheless, pipelines are subject to aggressive operating conditions and environments which can lead to in-service degradation [1] and thus to failures. These failures can have catastrophic consequences, such as environmental damage and loss of life [2]. One of the most dangerous threats to pipeline integrity is stress corrosion cracking (SCC). Despite the substantial progress that has been achieved in the field, due to the complex nature of this phenomenon there is still not a complete understanding of this form of external corrosion. This makes its detection and prevention a challenge and therefore a risk to pipeline integrity, and most importantly, to the safety of the population. ^ SCC cracks are the result of the interaction between a corrosive environment, applied stresses, and a susceptible microstructure. To date, what defines a susceptible microstructure remains ambiguous, as SCC has been observed in a range of steel grades, microstructures, chemical composition, and grain sizes. Therefore, in order to be able to accurately predict and prevent this hazardous form of corrosion, it is imperative to advance our knowledge on the subject and gain a better understanding on the microstructural features of highly susceptible pipeline materials, especially in the subsurface zone where crack nucleation must take place. Therefore, a microstructural characterization of the region near the surface layer was carried-out utilizing TEM. TEM analysis revealed the dislocation character, ferrite morphology, and apparent carbide precipitation in some grain boundaries. Furthermore, light microscopy, SEM, and hardness testing were performed to expand our knowledge on the microscopical features of highly SCC susceptible service components. This investigation presents a new approach to SCC characterization, which exposed the sub-surface region microscopical characteristics of service components with confirmed SCC.^

Subject Area

Materials science

Recommended Citation

Torres, Monica, "Microstructural investigation of vintage pipeline steels highly susceptible to stress corrosion cracking" (2016). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI10118232.