What is API RP 578?
API RP 578, Material Verification Program for New and Existing Alloy Piping Systems, is a Recommended Practice guideline set forth by the American Petroleum Institute (API). The purpose of API RP 578 is to provide guidelines for the verification of alloy grades in various metal components used in petrochemical plants and petroleum refineries. The recommended practice is in place to help petrochemical plants and refineries establish a protocol for assuring that the alloy components of the plant piping system are of the appropriate alloy composition in order to handle the pressure, heat, etc. to which the materials are subjected; or, in other words, that the materials used are in accordance with the specified construction materials as outlined in API 570 piping codes. This is necessary because the use of materials of the wrong alloy composition can lead to component failure, resulting in potentially catastrophic accidents, explosions, leaks, etc.
API RP 578 provides guidelines across the various stages of the petro construction and maintenance process, particularly the verification of alloys during installation, maintenance, and inspection of new and existing process piping. The process of verifying alloy composition to ensure that proper alloys are used in process piping systems is referred to as PMI (Positive Material Identification), and today’s industry standard is 100% alloy grade verification, meaning every part and component is tested.
Why API RP 578?
API RP 578 is an important set of guidelines because it aims to prevent many known problems that can occur when different alloys are substituted for the specified alloys in a process piping system, or when material mix-ups occur.
An example of such a problem is Flow-Accelerated Corrosion (FAC). Flow-accelerated corrosion occurs when certain types of steel used in process piping systems degrade over a period of time due to the pressure, heat, or pH of flowing water or steam. The factors that influence FAC are numerous, but the alloy composition of the piping and components in question is one of the most important variables in the presence and intensity of FAC. Assuring that the most corrosion resistant alloy materials are used is a key factor in preventing or reducing FAC.
Flow-accelerated corrosion is only one of many threats to the integrity and stability of process piping systems that can be brought on by materials mix-ups or inconsistencies.
Need the Complete API RP 578 Document?
Other PMI and API RP 578 Resources:
- API American Petroleum Institute
- OSHA Occupational Safety and Health Administration
- NACE National Association of Corrosion Engineers
- ASNT American Society for Nondestructive Testing
PMI / Positive Material Identification
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