Process Equipment: Auxiliary Components
A gray cast iron (ASTM 247 type A) gate valve in an oleum and sulfuric acid piping loop at a chemical process plant fractured catastrophically after approximately 10 years of service. The valve was a 150 mm (6 in.) bolted flange type rated to conform to ANSI B16.1 for service at 1034 kPa (150 psi) and 120 deg C (250 deg F) maximum in 93 to 99% sulfuric acid. The fracture originated at stress-corrosion cracks that occurred in a high-stress transition region at the valve body-to-flange juncture. The mechanical properties of the failed valve were below those of the manufacturer's cited specification, and the wall thickness through which the fracture occurred exceeded the minimum 9.5 mm (38 in.) thickness cited by the manufacturer The valve flange had been unbolted and rebolted to a maintenanced piping coil immediately prior to failure. It was recommended that the flange-to-valve body juncture be redesigned to reduce stress levels. A method of maintenance and inspection in concert with a criterion for life prediction for this and other valves and components in the system was also recommended.