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Failure investigation of Cu-DHP tubes due to ant-nest corrosion

Athanasios Vazdirvanidis (ELKEME-Hellenic Research Centre for Metals S.A., Oinofyta, Greece)
Sofia Papadopoulou (ELKEME-Hellenic Research Centre for Metals S.A., Oinofyta, Greece)
Spyros Papaefthymiou (School of Mining and Metallurgical Engineering, National Technical University of Athens, Zografos, Greece) (R&D Projects and Steel Physical Metallurgy Department, Hellenic Research Center for Metals – Elkeme SA, Oinofyta, Greece)
George Pantazopoulos (ELKEME-Hellenic Research Centre for Metals S.A., Oinofyta, Greece)
Dionysios Skarmoutsos (HALCOR Copper Tube Division, ELVALHALCOR S.A., Oinofyta, Greece)

International Journal of Structural Integrity

ISSN: 1757-9864

Article publication date: 31 May 2019

Issue publication date: 19 July 2019




The purpose of this paper is to address the main aspects of ant-nest corrosion failure mechanism of a Cu tube in heating ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) installations and analyze the possible root causes through various case studies presented.


Failure investigation process includes mainly stereo-, light optical and scanning electron microscopy coupled with energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy for elemental microanalysis, as the main analytical techniques for material characterization and root-cause analysis.


The investigation findings, obtained from corrosion products’ analysis in conjunction to metallographic evaluation in transverse sections, illustrate the principal characteristics (“fingerprints”) of ant-nest (formicary) corrosion mechanism.


This paper which deals with the presentation of applied failure analysis/case histories’ investigation, summarizing the main aspects of an important and insidious type of Cu corrosion, taken place in HVAC installation systems and, on the other hand, presenting a complementary analysis of the chemical processes involved in the progressive failure mechanism constitutes an integrated approach, aiming to become a concise contribution to this subject.



Vazdirvanidis, A., Papadopoulou, S., Papaefthymiou, S., Pantazopoulos, G. and Skarmoutsos, D. (2019), "Failure investigation of Cu-DHP tubes due to ant-nest corrosion", International Journal of Structural Integrity, Vol. 10 No. 3, pp. 325-336.



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