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Lab Eyes New Weld Method for Offshore Structures

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

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Scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory are working to develop a better way to perform welds on offshore structures, using a hybrid approach that includes both lasers and arc welding in an effort to mitigate corrosion.

Zhenzhen Yu and Michael Joachim Andreassen
Genevieve Martin/Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Zhenzhen Yu (left) and Michael Joachim Andreassen are using Oak RIdge National Laboratory's Neutron Residual Stress Mapping Facility to test methods of welding offshore wind turbine monopiles.

Michael Joachim Andreassen, of the Technical University of Denmark, and Zhenzhen Yu, of the Colorado School of Mines, are taking advantage of ORNL’s Neutron Residual Stress Mapping Facility, a lab that allows them to examine welds at the atomic level.

Residual Stress Issues

Andreassen and Yu are looking into how welds affect the integrity of structures like offshore wind turbine monopiles, which the team notes are normally constructed using submerged arc welding.

“You have to remove a lot of material to do the weld, and then add filler material after,” Andreassen says. “It costs a lot to remove and add the materials, and in the end, you have a really huge groove with lots of introduced residual stresses.”

Residual stress—stress that remains even after the original cause, such as loading, is removed—is what interests Andreassen and Yu, who hope to develop a way to weld monopiles and other such structures that will create less of it.

Neutron Method

Neutron diffraction is just one nondestructive method of detecting residual stress, but it’s ideal for probing the thick metal of offshore monopiles, the researchers say. Neutrons penetrate materials more effectively than X-rays, and neutron diffraction is the only way the scientists say they can get a complete profile of residual stress in the metal plates.

The construction method Andreassen and Yu are examining as a potential alternative to submerged arc welding is a combination of laser-beam and arc welding.

“The hybrid laser-arc welding technique introduces a more focused heat source that allows us to mitigate residual stress,” Yu says. “In the ocean, saltwater eventually creates corrosion, and if you have high degrees of tensile residual stress, the faster corrosion occurs and the greater the likelihood of fractures or cracks propagating through welded regions.”

About the Facility

Oak Ridge National Laboratory, part of the U.S. Department of Energy, is managed by the University of Tennessee—Battelle. The Neutron Residual Stress Mapping Facility is located at ORNL’s High Flux Isotope Reactor, a DOE Office of Science User Facility. Office of Science User Facilities are specialized facilities available for use by individuals in academia, industry and government, who gain access to the equipment based on a merit review of their research.


Tagged categories: Oak Ridge National Laboratory; Offshore; Research and development; Welding

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