Materials Upgrade to Refinery Boiler Feed Pumps Delivers ROI Within One Year

A materials upgrade performed by the aftermarket team at Celeros Flow Technology, has prevented repeated pump failures at an oil refinery in the US, delivering a return on investment (ROI) of less than one year.
Materials Upgrade to Refinery Boiler Feed Pumps Delivers ROI Within One Year

Celeros FT was asked to investigate repeated failures of the casings and casing covers on a refinery’s OH2 pumps in boiler feed water service. (Image source: Celeros Flow Technology)

The Celeros FT aftermarket team was called in to investigate the cause of repeated failures of the casings and casing covers on the refinery’s OH2 pumps in boiler feed water service. The client asked Celeros FT to evaluate the failed components and make recommendations to prevent future damage.

Failure mechanism
Initial inspection showed that the damage was to random areas of the casing and cover, and limited to cast steel (ASTM A216-WCB) components only. In order to determine the root cause of the failure, the operating parameters of the pump were investigated. Particular emphasis was placed on the temperature and conductivity of the water, with key properties of interest as follows:

• Temperature – 269ºF
• Conductivity – 11 μmho/cm
• pH - 9

Inspection of the failed components revealed damage consistent with the use of carbon steel in hot, low conductivity water service. The type and random nature of the damage along with service conditions were key factors in making this determination, which was later supported by an independent metallurgical examination.

This failure mechanism involves erosion and corrosion of the metal, where the protective oxide scale at the surface is dissolved, and the underlying metal is removed due to the velocity of the water. Generally speaking, carbon steel casings must be avoided in boiler feed applications where the water temperature is greater than 200ºF, and the conductivity of the water is less than 20 μmohs/cm. In these cases, damage will occur primarily in high velocity areas.

Problem solved
For this boiler feed water application, the pump experts at Celeros FT recommended the replacement of the carbon steel components with 12% chrome (CA-6NM), 316 stainless, and 400 series stainless steels (CA-6NM and CA-15), which are not affected by this failure mechanism. The customer approved the recommended course of action and replacement pump casing and casing covers were provided in upgraded materials.

Celeros FT estimates that the one-off cost of the materials upgrade is approximately one third of the annual maintenance cost of replacing or repairing the carbon steel pump casings. This represents a significant reduction in ongoing maintenance costs and a much-improved Mean Time Between Outages (MTBO) for the customer. Taking all these savings into account, the materials upgrade has paid for itself within 12 months of implementation.

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