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Title: Challenges and solutions for the retention of field production rates in high-strength pipe
Category: Technical papers from Pipeline World
Downloadable: Yes 
Catalog No.: 865
Date of Publication: December 04
Price: $25.00 US
Authors: Peter L Nicholson
Abstract: New, high-strength steels are offering many advantages to the pipeline industry: these steels allow for the use of thinner pipe at higher operating pressures; they can also drive down total construction costs. However, as pipeline owners and designers look to these new steels, they are presenting a challenge for the welding and fabricating industry that must respond with cost-effective ways of joining them. To complicate the matter, these high-performance steels have surpassed conventionally-fabricated weld metal in terms of hydrogen crack resistance and fracture toughness. The latest evolution in these high-strength pipe steels is X80, carrying a specified minimum yield of 80ksi. With even more advanced steels expected soon, unique opportunities are being created for the arc-welding industry to introduce new welding consumables and processes capable of welding these high strength materials. The welding industry's priority is quality: all pipeline fabricators need to provide repeatable, high-quality welds. Since SMAW has been adequate to produce safe, economic pipelines, the industry has been slow to adopt the more-recent advances in welding-process development. SMAW using cellulosic electrodes has remained the most common process for welding pipelines, and has a greater ability than other processes to accommodate non-ideal conditions such as poor fit-up or a change in terrain. However, as the strength of the steel increases, there has come a greater risk of failure, either due to hydrogen cracking or reduced toughness. It is this risk of hydrogen cracking that is the main issue with the cellulosic SMAW electrodes in higher-strength applications: hydrogen dissolves in the molten puddle during welding and, upon cooling, diffusable, as opposed to chemically-bound, hydrogen can cause porosity during solidification and cracking in the finished weldment. Attempts to adapt welding processes and procedures to X80 and higher-strength steels must be assessed. To take advantage of the pipe strength, the weld metal must either match the strength of the pipe or exceed it. The welding process and consumables must be controlled to minimize the risk of brittle fracture in the weld during pipeline fabrication and the resulting risk of hydrogen cracking. In addition, the demands of higher productivity and higher quality are always present.
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