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Becht Engineering Research & Development Initiatives

In addition to providing expert consulting services to the Process and Power Industry, Becht Engineering is also engaged in meeting the research and development needs of its clients.

We are active in carrying out a range of R&D projects funded by industrial consortiums and professional societies, which include the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), and the Materials Technology Institute (MTI).  Recent R&D projects include:

Becht's professionals have published the results of their R&D and other novel work at conferences, and in books and peer reviewed journals.  

For a list of these publications, please Click Here

For information on Becht's involvement in Code Committees, pleaseClick Here

Statistical Analysis of NDE Data

Eileen Chant, Ph.D., P.E.; J. Robert Sims; William Meeker, Ph.D. (Iowa State University); Mark Stone, Ph.D. (Sonomatic Ltd.)

In October 2008, Becht Engineering was awarded a project by the Materials Technology Institute (MTI) to develop an inspection guideline document and software tool for the collection and analysis of inspection data for piping, piping components and pressure vessels.

ndeA typical refinery or chemical plant may have hundreds of miles of piping and hundreds of pressure vessels that require regular inspection to permit their safe and reliable operation. The inspection document we are developing is intended to provide a step-by-step guideline on planning, organizing and conducting an inspection program for piping circuits and pressure vessels. The data collected are typically thickness measurements and may involve a hundred or more data points for a particular piece of equipment or piping system.

The guideline document will enable MTI member companies to improve their inspection programs through reduction in errors and good data management practices, which can be a formidable task considering the number of data points multiplied by the miles of pipe and pressure vessels. In addition, a summary of the types of corrosion or other damage mechanisms for commonly used alloys is provided. This allows the inspection team to anticipate the type of damage and severity that can occur. The document also contains discussions of measurement theory and statistical techniques used in the software.

The spreadsheet-based tool uses statistical analysis for analyzing data from measurement locations in a pressure vessel or piping systems. The tool evaluates the quality of the data by identifying outliers that could be a result of measurement error, local metal loss, or inappropriate thickness measurement locations (TMLs), such as a piping section with a different thickness. Step-by-step instructions on how to handle flagged suspect measurements are provided. In addition, the tool uses statistical models to predict the maximum metal loss in a population of thickness measurements, corrosion rate, a prediction of when the thickness reaches an unacceptable level, and the recommended next inspection date. Plots are generated which are used to visually assess the distribution of the data and present corrosion rates.

The tool is user-friendly and portable so that it can be used to immediately analyze the data as it is collected so that suspect thickness measurements can re-measured while the inspector and measurement equipment remain available for additional or verification measurements.

The results from this project – when combined with appropriate risk-based inspection planning – are expected to benefit the chemical process and refining industry by optimizing inspection intervals, reducing the risk of leaks/fires by focusing on inspection locations with the highest risk and highest consequence, and – in some cases – reducing inspection costs while simultaneously reducing risks. This project is expected to be completed in April 2010.

Boiler Return Bend Remaining Life Estimator

Eileen Chant, Ph.D., P.E.; J. Robert Sims

boiler tubeBoiler tube failure is the leading cause of fossil plant downtime for utilities. In an effort to improve life assessment modeling tools which predict the time to failure for cracked boiler tubes, the Electric Power Research Institute commissioned Becht Engineering to develop a software tool providing a rapid remaining life estimate of tubes which have developed cracks at the return bends.

A series of 45 typical return bend designs with a range of outer diameters, wall thickness, design pressure and bend radius were selected. For each of these 45 designs, FEA analyses using Abaqus were completed for 6 ovalities to determine the maximum through-wall stress profile. The stress profiles from the FEA analyses were input into the Becht proprietary fracture mechanics spreadsheet-based software, which performs a Level 2 assessment of a growing crack subject to fatigue loading per Section 9 of API 579-1/ASME FFS-1, 2007 Edition. A series of starting crack aspect ratios (crack length to crack depth ratio) were simulated for each of the 270 FEA profiles to determine the remaining life to failure, which is defined as the crack breaching 80% of the wall thickness, or falling outside the FAD envelope.

A Windows®-based software program was developed for EPRI members which returns a remaining life estimate, based on user inputs and an interpolation of the calculated remaining life results residing in an MS-Access database. The user interface shows the simple inputs required to perform the remaining life estimate. This project was completed in December 2009.

Comparison of Creep Simulation Methodologies

Eileen Chant, Ph.D., P.E.; J. Robert Sims; Charles Becht V

 Boiler tube creepBoiler tube failures are the leading cause of fossil plant downtime worldwide. Advances in life assessment modeling tools could improve fossil plant reliability while minimizing maintenance costs by improving timing of inspection, repair and replacement activities. Becht Engineering was commissioned by the Electric Power Research Institute to better understand the remaining life predictions produced by the EPRI software programs Remaining Life Simulations and Monitoring (RLSM) and Boiler Life Evaluation and Simulation Software (BLESS), and compare those methods and results with the API 579-1/ASME FFS-1, 2007 Edition model. The types of damage considered in the study include creep rupture, creep-fatigue and creep crack growth.

RLSM and BLESS have many features in common with the modeling approaches in API 579-1/ASME FFS-1, the main exception being the absence of the Omega Material model in the EPRI software programs. Because of this, one emphasis of the project was to present the Omega model and contrast it with the legacy approach, the Larson Miller Parameter (LMP) model.

Some discrepancies between LMP and Omega models in API 579-1/ASME FFS-1 were discovered and described in our findings.For the BLESS comparison, data sources referenced by BLESS were reviewed in performing fatigue crack growth and creep crack growth and recreated these calculations. Comparisons with API 579-1/ASME FFS-1 predictions were made and the reasons for any noted discrepancies described.

Finally, Becht Engineering has made a number of recommendations regarding future enhancements of the EPRI programs.

Risk-Based Inspection for Polymers

Eileen Chant, Ph.D., P.E.; J. Robert Sims

rbi1Becht Engineering was awarded a project in 2007 by the Materials Technology Institute (MTI) to develop a Risk-Based Inspection (RBI) work process for above-ground, fiberglass reinforced polymer (FRP) storage tanks containing one of five designated chemicals. The process complies with American Petroleum Institute's Recommended Practice 580 – Risk-Based Inspection and the ASME PCC-3 Inspection Planning Document and uses Risk-Based methods that were developed for fixed equipment and piping in the hydrocarbon and chemical process industries. However the basic methodology can be adapted to any class of industrial equipment, such as FRP equipment.

Risk-Based Inspection Approach

Damage mechanism documentation for five selected chemical and tank construction combinations was developed to provide guidance in developing failure scenarios. The damage mechanism documentation included the following information for a given stored chemical:

  • Description of appropriate containment systems
  • Description of damage mechanism and appearance, including photos
  • Recommended temperature and concentration ranges of the stored chemicals
  • Typical fluid contaminants and their effects on damage rates
  • Failure modes and failure locations
  • Guidance on probability of failures
  • Inspection and mitigation techniques to detect and mitigate failures
  • Guidance on mitigated probability of failures

The RBI work process includes a benefit-cost analysis that compares the economic benefit of mitigation to the cost of the actions selected to mitigate the risk. Mitigation of the S/H/E risk is also an inherent part of developing the inspection and maintenance plan. This RBI work process allows plant personnel to monitor reliability while delivering a task-focused, cost effective inspection and maintenance plan for a FRP storage tank. This project was completed in June 2008.

rbi2 polymerrandd
Weeping from exterior in HCL acid service Sample Polymeric Risk-Based Inspection Plan Report

Repair and Modification of Lined Equipment

Harold G. Clem, Jr.; Charles Becht IV, Ph.D., P.E.

lined equip weldingBecht Engineering was awarded a project by the Materials Technology Institute (MTI) to develop a lining repair guidebook for owners of equipment lined with various generic types of polymeric lining materials and systems. The objective of this project was to provide guidance on the suitability of the lined equipment for repair, specific repair techniques for various lining materials and systems, and methods of assessment of the integrity of repaired equipment.

This guide is divided into 11 Sections and 5 Appendices. Sections 1-3 contain information applicable to all linings, while Sections 4-9 and 11 describe the repair of various generic types of lining systems. Detailed technical information on specific subjects such as thermoplastic welding and repair, and spark testing of lining systems are featured in Appendices. Key highlights and features of the guide are outlined below:

• The guide addresses the repair of the liner. Evaluation and repair of the pressure boundary or structural portion of lined equipment is not within the scope of this document. This pertains to lined metal equipment and the structural fiberglass overlay in dual laminate equipment. Repair of lining systems and concrete substrates are discussed in Section 11 – Sumps and Trenches.

• The assessment of lined equipment, inspection of in-service lined equipment, tables of in-service lining conditions and repair recommendations, and the general failure analysis of linings are discussed in Section 2 - Assessment, Inspection, and Engineering Analysis.

• Sections 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 each feature a table showing typical in-service lining conditions / defects and lining repair recommendations. Lining repair specifications, proof tests, and captioned step-by-step digital photographs of representative lining repair demonstrations conducted at leading lining supplier/installation companies are also included.

 This project was completed in August 2009. The "Guide for the Repair and Modification of Lined Equipment" is scheduled to be published by the Materials Technology Institute as part of a "Repair Manual Series" in 2010.

Pressure Equipment Integrity Life Cycle Management

J. Robert Sims

Guide to Life Cycle Management of Pressure Equipment Integrity / ASME PTB-2-2009

This ASME publication provides a guideline or "roadmap" to help users of pressure equipment as well as manufacturers, owners, regulators and other stakeholders identify the codes, standards, recommended practices, specifications and guidelines that apply to the life cycle management of pressure equipment integrity. It provides a summary of some of the more commonly used codes, standards, recommended practices, specifications and guidelines produced by organizations based in the United States that assist manufacturers, owners, users and their designated agents, regulators and other stakeholders in maintaining the integrity of fixed pressure equipment in process plants and in general industrial use. It includes documents that are pertinent to maintaining equipment integrity (e.g. pressure containment) through appropriate design, construction, inspection, maintenance, alteration and repair.