Positive Material Identification
Portable X-ray fluorescence (XRF) is a method of positive material identification (PMI) which is a nondestructive semi-quantitative method that determines the chemical composition of a material. History shows numerous industrial incidents have occurred as a result of inadvertent substitution of materials in piping systems, fittings, flanges, gaskets, bolting materials and other components. PMI 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.
Acuren uses two methods of portable XRF
- Isotope based X-ray fluorescence (XRF)
- Technology cannot detect elements with an atomic number less than 22 (titanium)
- X-Ray Tube Based X-ray fluorescence (XRF)
- Technology cannot detect elements with an atomic number less than 22 (titanium), with exception of 5 elements: Mg, Al, Si, P, and S
The principle of operation is that a source (isotope or x-ray) is used to generate a beam of low energy radiation to excite the material being examined. The analyzed material emits a characteristic radiation spectrum that is then analyzed to determine which elements are present and in what quantity. The instruments are small, lightweight, highly portable and deliver quick results in even the most demanding situations.
What can portable XRF 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 and specifications
- Ensure welded components have the correct filler metal
- Identify incorrect or potentially mixed-up materials (e.g. carbon steel substitutions in low alloy steel systems)
- Assess for enhanced corrosion potential in HF alkylation units due to residual elements in carbon steels (such as 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 XRF Limitations
Both isotope and x-ray methods of XRF are semi-quantitative as there are various elements that avoid detection. These instruments cannot detect carbon, therefore alloy grades such as SS304 and 304L cannot be differentiated. Acuren reports the results as “closest match”, which indicates the alloy composition is consistent with the specified alloy material. The amount of specific elements detected are also reported for each material tested. Portable XRF should not be used on components in significant vibration service or where background electromagnetic fields are excessive.
Why Use Acuren for your portable XRF needs?
Acuren ensures the appropriate technology for chemical analysis is selected for each application. Technicians deliver rapid and reliable XRF 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. Our quality program is one of the most rigorous in the industry with all of our reports being peer reviewed.
Acuren provides responsive turnaround times and are able to meet the customer’s required operational schedules. If necessary, Acuren can provide an onsite quantitative chemical analysis via optical emission spectroscopy (OES), and our laboratories can follow-up with a chemical analysis to verify XRF findings.
Acuren technicians can perform XRF utilizing rope-access methods to test materials in hard to reach and confined space locations.
Positive material identification (PMI) by x-ray fluorescence (XRF) is performed in every industry sector including offshore, pipeline, oil & gas, structural, manufacturing, aerospace, agriculture, mining, pulp & paper, nuclear, power generation, and more.
Richardson 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.