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The fabrication of structures for Arctic applications is expected to face major challenges when it comes to the fracture toughness of the heat affected zone and the weld metal. Although the initial base metal toughness may be excellent, a severe toughness deterioration normally occurs as result of the rapid heating and cooling cycles in welding. The present investigation addresses tensile behavior and toughness properties of 32 and 50 mm thick 420 MPa plates, including tensile testing at both room temperature and −60°C, and Charpy V impact toughness and CTOD fracture toughness at −60°C. The welds were deposited by gas shielded flux cored arc welding using a heat input of 2-2.4 kJ/mm. The results showed a dramatic reduction in the fracture toughness after welding, i.e., from CTOD level above 2.5 mm to below 0.25 mm for the 50 mm plate, and from ~ 2 mm to the lowest value of 0.12 mm for the 32mm plate. The Charpy V toughness appeared to be good for the 50 mm, both for the heat affected zone and the weld metal, while the 32 mm plate suffered from low values in the weld metal root area. The results for the 50 mm thick plate are very promising, particularly for use in the temperature range down to −20 to −40°C.
The oil and gas industry is moving north due to the large oil and gas reserves. For example, a preliminary assessment by the US Geological Survey suggests the Arctic seabed may hold as much as about 30% of the world's undiscovered gas and 13% of the world's undiscovered oil (Gautier et al, 2009), mostly offshore under less than 500 meters of water. In these areas, the temperature may occasionally fall below −30 to −40°C, which represents new challenges to the materials. Normally, structural steels and pipelines may easily satisfy toughness requirements at such low temperature. However, welding tends to be very harmful to low temperature fracture toughness. Both the heat affected zone (HAZ) and the weld metal may fail in providing sufficient toughness (e.g., Akselsen et al, 2011; Østby et al, 2011; Akselsen et al, 2012; Akselsen and Østby, 2014).
Akselsen, Odd M. (SINTEF Materials and Chemistry) | Lange, Hans I. (Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)) | Ren, Xiaobo (SINTEF Materials and Chemistry) | Nyhus, Bård (SINTEF Materials and Chemistry)
For steel structures to be installed in the Arctic region, the risk of brittle fracture represents a primary concern due to the ductile to brittle usually transition taking place at sub-zero temperatures. Therefore, the present investigation addressed the heat affected zone and weld metal toughness of two extra low carbon steels of 420 MPa yield strength grade, supplied in 20 and 50 mm thickness. The testing included tensile, Charpy V and CTOD. The results obtained showed that the Charpy V toughness was relatively high at -600C, but that some low values may occur for the fusion line position. The fracture toughness at -600C, based on SENB05 (a/t=0.5) geometry, appeared to be low for both weld metal and fusion line positions. More specific measures may be taken into account in welding procedure qualification of the current steels, such as using lower crack length (e.g., a/t=0.2), tension instead of bending (SENT testing) or a full engineering critical assessment.
The oil and gas industry has been gradually moving towards the north. In Norwegian waters, the Goliat field was recently set in production by ENI. The design temperature for this field was -200C, which is somewhat lower than previously experienced, and below the lowest design temperature in the NORSOK standard (2014), which is currently -140C. Not far from the Goliat, Johan Castberg may be the next field of exploration, and is now under evaluation by Statoil. When going further north and east, the ice edge is approached, and the design temperature may fall down to -300C, or even below. This represents huge challenges to the materials which are to be used. Normally, e.g. structural steels and pipelines may easily satisfy toughness requirements at such low temperature. However, welding tends to be very harmful to low temperature fracture toughness. Recent results have demonstrated that the toughness may be on the borderline for both the heat affected zone and the weld metal (e.g., Akselsen et al, 2015; Akselsen & Østby, 2014; Akselsen et al, 2012; Akselsen et al, 2011), indicating that required robust solutions are not yet available for the most challenging part of the Arctic region, unless some constraint loss corrections are applicable.
In the North Sea oil and gas installations, steel castings have been used for many decades. Here, high strength steel castings offer the chance to manufacture complex heavy-lift and fatigue-critical components for larger offshore structures without increasing the weight of the components or platforms. However, when the activities are moving north to colder climates, current existing castings may fail to meet the toughness requirements, and there is very limited information available on behaviour of weldments of castings under such extreme conditions. Therefore, the present investigation was carried out addressing the low temperature toughness of high nickel (~1.5% Ni) steel casting with 460 MPa yield strength. Preliminary welding trials were performed with flux-cored arc welding (FCAW) with an overmatch in weld metal strength. Both Charpy V notch impact and CTOD fracture mechanical testing were included at ?60°C. The results show that the Charpy V notch toughness is excellent at -60°C (> 100 J). The fusion line CTOD fracture toughness showed low values for the SENB05 samples, while SENB02 gave higher values. For both geometries, the lowest values were connected with pop-in events. The weld metal fracture toughness was satisfactory with the lowest value of 0.28 mm.