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First Remote Field Testing Standard for Heat Exchangers Establishes Credible Techniques

“Excruciating attention to detail” by Canadians and Americans involved in remote field testing (RFT) has led to the release of a long-needed standard for the nondestructive testing (NDT) of heat exchangers used in the oil and gas, power, and petrochemical industries. Now available from ASTM Committee E07 on Nondestructive Testing, ASTM E 2096, Standard Practice for In Situ Examination of Ferromagnetic Heat Exchanger Tubes Using Remote Field Testing, offers a uniform communication reference when hunting for damaged tubes.

“It was either create a standard, or watch a valuable technology get abad name,” said David Mackintosh, P.Eng., research engineer, Russell NDE Systems Inc., Edmonton, Canada, who approached ASTM in response to an industry call for standardization. “ASTM provided the ideal forum for us to get the work done. The new standard will help raise the quality of RFT continent-wide. It also serves to protect users, especially if they are unfamiliar with RFT. We’ll be seeing fewer leaking tubes and happier customers.”

Without a standard, plant operators in heavy industries can’t reference a widely-accepted document when discussing NDT of carbon steel tubing in their heat exchangers. Misunderstandings can lead to plant down time and potentially explosive situations. Before the standard was available, experience or training qualifications for NDT personnel had not been established, and a basic language didn’t exist for discussion of flaw detectability or permeability effects.

To remedy this problem, approximately 55 Canadian and American RFT practitioners, consumers, researchers, manufacturers, and consultants collaborated on a task group of ASTM Subcommittee E07.07 on Electromagnetic Method. The task group was initiated by Mackintosh at a symposium that was the culmination of a series of international conferences. The completion of ASTM Standard E 2096 was also supported by a comprehensive survey of RFT capabilities by the task group chair, Larry Cagle, consultant, EPRI NDE Center, Charlotte, NC.

For further technical information, contact Larry Cagle, EPRI NDE Center, PO Box 217097, Charlotte, NC 28221 (704/547-6171; fax: 704/547-6028). Committee E07 meets Jan. 21-25 in Plantation, Fla. For meeting or membership details, contact Director George Luciw, ASTM (610/832-9710). //

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