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Title: Laser assisted arc welding process for dry hyperbaric deep water application
Author: Ofem, Usani Unoh
Awarding Body: Cranfield University
Current Institution: Cranfield University
Date of Award: 2013
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Hyperbaric Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW) is an important technology for repair welding of deep sea pipelines and linking of existing pipeline networks to newer ones through tie-ins and hot-tap welding. With increasing water depth the process becomes susceptible to hydrogen assisted cracking due to the very fast cooling rate of the weld caused by higher habitat gas density and resulting higher thermal diffusivity. Maintaining sufficient heat in the welding zone is vital to avoid a potential cracking tendency especially as moisture pick-up may be difficult to avoid during hyperbaric welding operations. In addition to this, hyperbaric GMAW has a limitation of low heat input because it is operated at a short arc length or dip transfer mode to avoid process instability at high pressure. Also, the short arc length generates weld spatter that may affect weld quality. The research presented in this thesis, investigated the use of an industrial laser in conduction mode for the purpose of providing significant additional heat input to control the weld thermal cycles of GMAW. Advanced GMAW power sources such as the Fronius Cold Metal Transfer (CMT) and EWM ColdArc have also been investigated for reduced weld spatter generation. Studies were conducted to investigate the weld pool thermal cycles and resulting metallurgical phase formation in hyperbaric GMAW at different pressures ranging from 1 bar to 200 bar. This was followed by welding trials at one atmosphere to compare the process characteristics of traditional dip transfer GMAW with some advanced GMAW power sources such as CMT and ColdArc. The main experimental trials to investigate a laser assisted GMAW (CMT) process were performed at one atmosphere condition. A thermal model was developed using Abaqus software to predict the weld metal and heat affected zone thermal cycle in a laser assisted GMAW (CMT) process at one atmosphere and under high ambient pressures. Finally, investigation was carried out to evaluate the benefit of the laser assisted process in lowering diffusible hydrogen content from the weld metal. The hyperbaric GMAW experimental results showed that the weld pool cooling rate increases with pressure due to higher chamber gas density and resulting thermal diffusivity. But this effect is not prominent for thicker plates. Therefore, it was concluded that heat conduction through the steel thickness dominates convective losses to the chamber gas environment. It was also shown that the welding arc shrinks as pressure increases in order to minimise energy loss to the environment. This defined the weld bead profile; although it was found that beyond 100 bar pressure the weld penetration depth remained effectively unchanged. Apart from the hardness of the weld made at 1 bar, there was little difference between those at 18, 100 and 200 bar. However, all of the welds show hardness peaks greater than 350 HV10 recommended for offshore structures. It was observed that CMT produced the lowest weld spatter compared to the traditional GMAW and ColdArc. However, this advantage is constrained to low wire feed speed (3 to 5 m/min) beyond which it becomes relatively unstable. For the laser assisted GMAW (CMT) trials, it was shown that the laser serves as a spatially resolved heat source, reheating the weld bead and reducing the cooling rate. For the laser parameters investigated, over 200% reduction of cooling rate could be achieved when compared with GMAW alone. It was also demonstrated that the additional laser thermal input will extend the weld residence time at high temperature (over 300 °C). This will prolong the weld cooling time such that dissolved hydrogen can diffuse out before it comes to room temperature. The laser was shown to significantly reduce the weld peak hardness from about 420 HV0.5 to values below 350 HV0.5, which will be beneficial for hyperbaric welding. The model prediction of the weld thermal cycles was in good agreement with the experimental results. Therefore, it could be used to predict the weld metal and HAZ cooling rate of a laser assisted GMAW (CMT) process although the model would need to be calibrated for higher pressure data. It was also demonstrated that additional laser heat can reduce the weld hydrogen content to acceptable limits of 5 ml/100 g of weld metal even for high moisture content in the welding environment. In conclusion, the addition of laser heating to GMAW will reduce the weld cooling rate, extend the weld pool cooling time, and expel diffusible weld hydrogen. All of these would be immensely beneficial in terms of improving the quality and reliability of structures fabricated through hyperbaric GMAW.
Supervisor: Ganguly, Supriyo; Williams, S. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available