by David A. Osage, P.E., ASME Fellow / May 21, 2009

Owner-users of pressurized equipment including pressure vessels, piping, and tankage are becoming increasingly interested in whole-life management of equipment to enhance reliability and availability. A key aspect of whole life management is the understanding and consideration of potential damage mechanisms in the design process, and the identification of active damage mechanisms when equipment is in-service. Welded components represent a particularly difficult challenge in that the associated damage mechanics are strongly influenced by materials of construction, environmental effects, and loading conditions. The Welding Research Council (WRC) and American Petroleum Institute (API) has produced publications to facilitate the damage mechanism determination process. In 2007, ASME released a new edition of the Section VIII, Division 2 Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code that provides new rules for the design of equipment based on the prevention of failure modes. These new rules include the use of Examination Groups that are employed in some European standards including EN 13445, permit ultrasonic examination in lieu of radiographic examination, and introduce the concept of weld joint efficiencies and the associated partial examination requirements into Section VIII, Division 2 for the first time. In addition, a new ASME Code Case to the 2007 Edition of Division 2 to permit the use of 2.25Cr-1Mo-V for Operating Temperatures Greater than 371°C (700°F) has been developed. Also in 2007, in conjunction with ASME, API released the second edition of API 579 designated as API 579-1/ASME FFS-1 2007 Fitness-For-Service. This new standard is based on the first edition of API 579 and incorporates all planned technical enhancements originally slated for the second edition, the key enhancements being the inclusion of assessment procedures for pressurized components operating in wet H2S service and for pressurized components operating in the creep range. These new standards in conjunction with API and The National Board inspection codes and a new series of post-construction standards form the basis of a whole-life management process for pressurized fixed equipment.

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