Portable optical emission spectroscopy (OES), also known as Spark Testing, is a method of positive material identification (PMI). History shows numerous industrial incidents have occurred as a result of the inadvertent substitution of materials in piping systems, fittings, flanges, gaskets, bolting materials and other components. OES techniques can be implemented as a stand-alone program or as part of an API 578 Program to identify potentially rogue materials in high-risk systems to prevent catastrophic failures
What Is OES?
OES involves applying electrical energy in the form of an arc generated between the electrode and metal sample in an argon atmosphere, where vaporized atoms are brought to a high energy state and light is emitted. The excited atoms and ions have a characteristic emission spectral line for each element. The light channels through photo multiplying detectors which measure the presence and intensity of each element of the spectrum to perform a quantitative analysis of the elements. A wide range of elements can be detected using this method of chemical analysis.
What can Portable OES do?
Be applied to QA/QC on new construction, maintenance activities and existing equipment.
Verify a product chemistry conforms to the correct material standard, code, specification and Material Test Report (MTR)
Identify incorrect or potentially mixed-up metals (e.g. carbon steel substitutions in low alloy steel systems)
Ensure welded components have the correct filler metal
Be used to calculate carbon equivalent (CE) so welding and heat treatments can be applied to minimize cracking and avoid formation of unwanted metallurgical phases
Assess for enhanced corrosion potential in HF alkylation units due to residual elements in carbon steels (such as C, Ni, Cr, Cu)
Identify process units susceptible to sulfidation: carbon steels with low silicon (<0.10%) content can corrode at an accelerated rate when exposed to hydrogen-free sulfidation conditions
Test components to form the basis of API 578 Material Verification Programs (piping flanges, fittings forgings, valves, welds, instrumentation, overlays, bolting, expansion joints and gaskets)
Portable OES Limitations
OES is generally limited to applications where the instrument can be physically transported. The instrument is larger than other methods of chemical analysis and is not as easy to use in locations where space is limited. The OES instrument is not intrinsically safe as a spark is generated during operation.
Why Use Acuren for your portable OES needs?
Acuren ensures the appropriate technology for chemical analysis is selected for each application. Technicians deliver rapid, reliable, OES test results to help ensure our customer’s components meet industry quality standards to help eliminate costly failures and downtime. Our highly skilled technicians follow our internal qualification process to safely operate the instruments, follow internal safety and quality procedures, industry standards, and client specifications. Technicians provide on the spot results and interpretations with a certified report to follow.
Acuren’s extensive database allows us to provide value to the customer far beyond our competitor’s capability. For example, we are able to match material to a grade for clients who are attempting to determine the grade in instances where it isn’t supplied by the manufacturer, or there is some question about the actual grade. We can also reverse engineer material to determine the chemistry as we have standards for virtually every metal in our extensive library. Where our competitors might test for one, or a handful of materials, we can test for almost every metal. Results are available within minutes with reporting done onsite.
Acuren provides responsive turnaround times and are able to meet customer’s required operational schedules. If necessary, Acuren’s laboratories can provide follow-up with a chemical analysis to verify OES findings.
Richarson Oilseed is one of Canada’s oldest and largest fully-integrated crushing, refining, processing and packaging operations. In the absence of timely manufacturer support for a critical equipment issue, the full time onsite Acuren Condition Monitoring Specialist was able to diagnose and provide a detailed correction path on a defective trunion bearing.
When our large refining customer was faced with the requirement to upgrade one of their major crude storage tanks they turned to Acuren’s expertise. We were able to eliminate the hydrostatic test activities through the application of Fitness For Service (FFS) Methodologies as permitted by API 653.