Materials Analysis & Testing
When SOCOTEC’s Specialty Engineering group was founded in 1885 by Dr. Lucius Pitkin, its mission was to provide chemical consulting to local industries. One hundred forty years later, we continue the tradition as a leading consultant in materials. SOCOTEC provides a wide range of materials analysis and testing services for design, selection and specification as well as performance, aging and failures. We dedicate the use of novel alternate materials for applications through analysis and testing. We provide training in all aspects of materials engineering.
SOCOTEC has worked with many industries on improved material design in response to failures and unanticipated loads or conditions. We have particular expertise in materials condition assessment—crucial in a time of aging infrastructure. Our work with the Electric Power Research Institute has addressed material issues in transmission and distribution, equipment and subcomponents, material degradation mechanism such as FAC and MIC, and material property degradation due to radiation.
In many instances, improved structural or equipment performance is obtained by material enhancements. SOCOTEC’s comprehensive engineering experience provides the basis for addressing today’s most complex materials problems. Such experience is most vital in the joining of materials—i.e., welding and bolting—and the fabrication of connections, where most failures occur.
Accurate fracture and failure analysis also require extensive experience and technical capabilities. Understanding the mechanisms and root cause of a failure generally solves not only short term operational problems, but if properly performed can lead to structural or equipment performance improvements.
Degraded plant components require appropriate informed evaluations to ensure continued operations, repair and replace decisions, and corrective action. SOCOTEC offers comprehensive metallurgical and materials evaluations, either directly in the field or in our comprehensive laboratory in New York. Our technical specializations include corrosion assessments, IGSCC determinations, corrosion fatigue, and creep evaluations. The SOCOTEC staff can provide insight in the material selection process of design and to assist maintenance organizations throughout the complete life cycle of components installed at plants.
Fitness for Service (FFS)
When cracks or corrosion damage in a structure or component have been discovered, owners are faced with a decision—continue to operate at full or reduced capacity, repair or replace? The economic decision must be subordinate to plant and personnel safety. SOCOTEC can perform a fitness-for-service evaluation to determine whether equipment or structures can remain operational and for how long. Our extensive experience in materials, fracture mechanics and fatigue analysis, stress analysis, corrosion and NDE are strategically suited for performing the assessments necessary for continued use.
SOCOTEC’s Non-Destructive Examination group provides comprehensive, expeditious quality inspection services worldwide. We have over forty years of experience in evaluation of all types of structures and equipment. Our nondestructive examination services include remote sensing and monitoring, ultrasonic flaw detection and wall thickness surveys, radiography, eddy current, thermography, liquid dye penetrant, magnetic particle, and visual inspections. To augment the visual inspections, SOCOTEC maintains fiber-optic and video borescope imaging units, digital image correlation equipment and complete in situ metallographic replication equipment. In addition, leak detection and subsurface locating equipment are available. We also have the expertise and experience to devise special equipment or techniques for unique applications.
SOCOTEC’s welding engineers and AWS-certified technicians have been involved in numerous welding-related investigations. In many cases, fabrication and/or assessment procedures have been devised to obtain structurally sound welded connections which otherwise might have been impractical. In addition, we provide welder and procedure qualification testing to the requirements of the American Welding Society, American Bureau of Shipping and ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel codes. SOCOTEC is an AWS Accredited Test Facility.
Fatigue and Fracture Mechanics
Fatigue and fracture mechanics analyses have become an essential tool for the evaluation of structures and equipment. The development of structural integrity programs based on fracture mechanics concepts involve an assessment of structural integrity and fracture and crack growth characteristics in various, sometimes harsh environments. Component flaws, when identified, require assessment to support continued operations, and to enable the scheduling of a repair either immediately or at some future repair window. A sound understanding of fracture mechanics and fatigue is essential to performing FFS assessments. SOCOTEC's experts can perform such assessments to meet applicable code requirements, such as API 579/ASME FFS-1 or ASME Section XI flaw evaluations. SOCOTEC utilizes the ANSYS FEM code to perform deterministic analyses. Our capabilities extend to performing probabilistic assessments when specific input parameters are not well defined.
SOCOTEC uses a range of computer-based applications to characterize static, dynamic and thermohydraulic loads, calculate structural and equipment response to these loads, and determine and qualify material stresses. These can be used in conjunction with failure analysis to validate loads and stresses. Our engineers use computational fluid dynamic (CFD) codes such as ANSYS CFX and RELAP5, structural programs such as SAP2000 and STAAD for general mechanical and thermal applications, and non-linear codes such as ANSYS and LS-DYNA.
Measurements Group—Field Engineering
After an incident, speed is essential in collecting critical evidence. SOCOTEC’s Measurements Group maintains a full suite of measurement and recording equipment that can be staged worldwide within 24 hours. This includes high speed audio and video recorders, strain gauges, accelerometers and pressure transducers, laser measurement systems and portable PC-based data acquisition systems. We have special capability to perform residual stress (strain) measurements of structures in place. We also maintain a variety of pumps, rams and calibrated load cells capable of testing a wide range of structures large and small—bolts and cables to subway cars, buildings and bridges.
SOCOTEC maintains a pair of laboratory facilities to support our failure analysis and materials testing efforts. The main Materials Testing and Analysis Laboratory in Brooklyn boasts state of the art equipment for materials characterization, testing, performance simulations and analysis. Its capabilities include:
- Mechanical and structural testing
- Materials testing and analysis: metals, concrete, polymers, composites, coatings, adhesives, lubricants
- Fracture mechanics
- SEM and EDS
- Metallurgical tests
- Electrical component operation simulations
- Mechanical simulations
- Environmental effects: accelerated corrosion, salt spray, adverse chemical exposure
- Loading tests: static and dynamic, vibration, hydraulics, impact, explosion
Tests and simulation mock-ups are used to solve engineering problems or to assess material, component or system integration performance. SOCOTEC can conduct full scale simulations and tests in our Brooklyn. This facility hosts environmental studies for building facades, fluid flow simulations including waterhammers, and other tests requiring expanded testing volume.
SOCOTEC can receive low level radioactive component samples through our Annex in Amesbury, Massachusetts. Samples can undergo direct analysis and testing including SEM, EDS, fractography, microscopy or strength testing. Alternatively, we can decontaminate and forward them to our main laboratory facilities.
SOCOTEC offers failure analysis-related training in our core areas that are designed for the plant engineer, technician, operations, or maintenance individual. The courses cover a wide range of subjects:
- Material and engineering fundamentals—material aging degradation, fracture mechanics and fatigue, corrosion, extreme loads
- Failure analysis tools and methods—FMEA, HAZOP and FTA, walkdowns and surveys, critical thinking skills for failure determination, instrumentation design and deployment
- Design for lifecycle—strategies for reducing premature structure or component failure by identifying and designing for failure mechanisms.