Material Matters: The Promises and Perils of Reactive Materials | AIChE

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Material Matters: The Promises and Perils of Reactive Materials


The reactive metals titanium and zirconium are some of the most corrosion-resistant materials of construction, making them attractive options for severe-service applications. Reactive metals have a high affinity for oxygen and other interstitial elements at elevated temperature, which enables the formation of a corrosion-resistant oxide barrier that resists many different types of severe environments. They have been used in the chemical process industries (CPI) for more than a half a century — specified by engineers for use in heat exchangers, reactor vessels, columns, piping systems, pumps, valves, and other equipment in severe chemical environments to extend equipment life and reduce maintenance and downtime.

Despite the impression that titanium and zirconium alloys are invincible, they do age and are particularly vulnerable to corrosive attack in certain operating conditions. They can prematurely fail without proper maintenance and monitoring.

Depending on the severity of the environment and the time in service, reactive-metal components may be susceptible to general corrosion attack, weld attack, erosion, or hydriding (i.e., hydrogen pickup) that often require in situ repair and/or replacement.

Knowing the limitations of metals and alloys is critical, according to Rick Sutherlin, who will give a presentation on reactive metals monitoring at the Managing Aging Plants (MAP USA) Conference in Houston,...

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