Failure Analysis

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Our mission is to provide a knowledgeable resource for corrosion and materials sciences, especially if equipment failure occurs.  We help our clients implement preventative measures to increase the safety, reliability, and lifespan of their equipment through materials analysis and failure investigations.  We work in partnership with our clients, who provide expertise in their equipment and processes, as we apply our background in materials, metallurgy, and corrosion to provide answers supported by reliable laboratory results.

FA Investigation Metholodogy

Below is an overview of methodology and some of the techniques that we commonly use when approaching a failure investigation:

  1. Identify corrosion attack mechanism through macroscopic/microscopic examination and other laboratory techniques.  Evaluation of the pipes/welds metallurgically to verify that it apparently conforms to specification
  2. Determine source of corrodent or incompatability (e.g., improper material selection, condensing corrodents, excessive flow).  This is where we’d evaluate the role of the product in the failure.
  3. We review the background & understand the system.
  4. Summarize findings in a report that includes photodocumentation.

Examples of FA Investigations

  • Boiler tube evaluations from refineries, paper mills, residential homes, etc. [Examples of mechanisms & techniques: short term and long term overheating, stress assisted corrosion, deposit weight density evaluation, creep, and fly ash or salt cake corrosion.]
  • Heat exchanger tubes from chemical processing [Examples of mechanisms: MIC, errosion, fatigue]
  • Fire supression systems [Examples: Leaking pendent sprinklers, thread engagement analysis, large HDPE burried lines]
  • Potable and waste water piping

Besides the more common components, we’ve analyzed chilled beverage dispensers, solar panels, residential piping systems, ball valves, shafts, bolts, and everything in between.

For additional information about case studies please click here.

Reporting Options

Our failure analysis services and reports are tailored to customer needs.  We offer a variety of options to satisfy the levels of reporting required.  Our common report styles include:

  1. Informal Email: Straight to the point, reporting the cause and mode of the failure.  It is intended for informal use only, with no letterhead, signature, or specific structure used.
  2. Summary of Findings: Presents the findings of the examination, testing, or field work. No interpretation of the results are given.  Good for measurements, chemical analysis or metallographic examination of material.
  3. Executive Summary: This report is typically 3 pages long with text and pictures.  The report is to the point without formal headings. This format is suitable for internal use for cases in which our client only seeks a confirmation of a failure mode that is already strongly indicated by the background information and circumstances of the failure. Background is summarized in the 1st paragraph, Findings presented in several paragraphs with limited photo-documentation and Conclusions in final paragraph.
  4. Comprehensive Report: This report is typically 6 to 10 pages long with 6 to 10 pictures; the report is rigidly structured with formal headings. This format is suitable for use with third parties or for cases with potential legal implications.  The report format can also be used when the cause of the failure is obscure or the failure has severe economic consequences.  We attempt to be thorough in discussion of the failure and the environment causing the failure.  Frequently, literature is reviewed for aspects of the failure that are unusual.