CGA and EIGA have issued a joint statement affirming their belief that SPP-supplied brazed aluminium heat exchangers are reliable and safe for use, after their members conducted an inventory and collected the operational histories of these heat exchangers in response to concerns earlier this year.

The statement, signed by both Rich Gottwald – President & CEO of the CGA – and Philippe Cornille – General Secretary of EIGA – is as follows:

 

16th July 2020

CGA/EIGA Joint Statement

TO: gasworld Editors

Given the broad industry reach of your publication, we request that you share the following item with your readers:

Earlier this year, the Compressed Gas Association (CGA) and the European Industrial Gases Association (EIGA) became aware that header assemblies for some Sumitomo Precision Products Co. Ltd. (SPP) supplied brazed aluminium heat exchangers had been fabricated using welders, weld procedures or inspectors that were not certified to relevant regional standards or directives. SPP has supplied brazed aluminium heat exchangers to cryogenic plant designers, builders, and operators for use in industrial gas plants for many years. Brazed aluminium heat exchangers are integral to the operation of these plants. This fabrication included header subassemblies welds, core to header welds, and nozzle to header welds. Because brazed aluminium heat exchangers are considered pressure vessels, which require fabrication, inspection, and testing to specific regional standards, learning that some brazed aluminium heat exchangers were not manufactured to these specific regional standards raised concerns for CGA, EIGA and their members.

To understand the breadth of this problem, CGA and EIGA members conducted an inventory of these heat exchangers and provided CGA and EIGA with their operating history. This inventory is complete, with more than 4000 SPP supplied brazed aluminium heat exchangers identified. These heat exchangers range in age from newly installed to heat exchangers with over 30 years in operation. Taken together, these identified heat exchangers represent over 66,000 years (580 million hours) of operation. Out of all the brazed aluminium heat exchangers inventoried, only one incident was identified related to the welding of the header assembly. This heat exchanger, manufactured in 2015, experienced a weld crack, which was identified shortly after being put into operation in 2017. The crack allowed process gas to leak, however there was no injury to either plant employees or the public. There is no indication that this weld crack resulted from SPP’s reported nonconformances.

Based on the evaluation of this operating experience, CGA and EIGA believe that SPP supplied brazed aluminium heat exchangers are reliable and safe. SPP’s reported non-conformance does not affect the mechanical integrity of these heat exchangers and no new actions are needed for continued safe operation.

Rich Gottwald

President & CEO, Compressed Gas Association

Philippe Cornille

General Secretary, European Industrial Gases Association