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Corrosion of a chrome-moly pipe transporting sulfuric acid in a demineralization section: a failure analysis

Andres Marquez (Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering Department, Faculty of Engineering, San Antonio, Texas)
Chris Maharaj (The University of the West Indies St Augustine Campus, Saint Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago)

Anti-Corrosion Methods and Materials

ISSN: 0003-5599

Article publication date: 13 May 2021

Issue publication date: 2 July 2021




The purpose of this study was to carry out an analysis of the corrosion failure on a chrome-moly pipeline transporting highly concentrated sulfuric acid in a demineralization section at a petrochemical plant, along with the feasibility of using inhibitors to minimize the corrosive effects of sulfuric acid.


X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy, high-resolution optical microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy and accelerated corrosion experiments (ACE) were performed.


Erosion-corrosion failure was confirmed by the significant reduction in thickness of the internal surface of the material exposed to sulfuric acid, as well as the formation of an oxide scale/layer. ACE accurately predicted high material loss from exposure to sulfuric acid. Moreover, adding ascorbic acid as a corrosion inhibitor (even at low concentrations) was found to reduce the oxidation by more than 50% in the presence of sulfuric acid.


The main idea/purpose of this work relies on the analysis of recurrent real-life corrosion-attributed failures that are common in industry but are not properly addressed for a variety of reasons, poor management and lack of corrosion preventive strategies being the main ones. This study once again highlights readily available solutions/implementations that are capable of not only addressing technically the issue investigated but also, and as important, economically. By using microscopic imaging, reliable well-tested and widely used characterization methods, all combined with basic experiments and tests, the nature of the repetitive failure investigated was clearly demonstrated as well as readily available alternatives to minimize it in the short term. Nevertheless, implementing material selection techniques appropriately as effective corrosion prevention/control and cost-saving strategies must be enforced in any process.



The authors would like to thank Ms. Janell C. Ramlal, Ms. Felisha Mohan and Mr. Nabeel Shorab for their support in carrying out these studies. .


Marquez, A. and Maharaj, C. (2021), "Corrosion of a chrome-moly pipe transporting sulfuric acid in a demineralization section: a failure analysis", Anti-Corrosion Methods and Materials, Vol. 68 No. 3, pp. 160-166.



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