Chemical & Industrial / Failure Analysis

Failure Analysis


We provide a broad range of failure analysis services for unirradiated and irradiated components. Recent examinations have included: Cracked reactor coolant pump shaftaustenitic stainless‐steel lines, electrical components, pressurizer heaters, pump seals, carbon steel lines, baffle bolts, zirconium in‐core instrumentation components, springs and control rod drive mechanism head penetrations


Investigative techniques include, but are not limited to:

Surface and Non-Destructive Examinations

We perform a visual examination of the as‐received component and document, with high‐resolution digital photographs, the overall condition of the component, as well as any unusual findings such as the presence of surface defects, discoloration, oxidation, corrosion, pitting, wear, cracking and deformation. We use the results from the initial surface examinations to help define subsequent component sectioning and additional examinations.

We offer non‐destructive examinations including dye penetrant exams, ultrasonic testing and/or eddy current testing.

Metallographic Examinations

We can perform metallographic examinations to determine material microstructure; such as grain size, inclusion distribution, and canTransgranular stress corrosion cracking in austenitic stainless steel do this on selected cross sections removed from the part, which can be taken transversely to any cracks present in the component. We normally conduct the metallographic examinations in the “aspolished” and “polished and etched” conditions to establish the location, depth and distribution of degradation and cracking and their relationship to the local microstructure. We can also obtain information regarding potential surface attack phenomena, crack initiation location, crack propagation direction and crack morphology.

Fractographic Examinations

We can conduct fractographic examinations on open crack surfaces, if present, to establish the crack initiation site(s), propagation direction(s) and the general cracking morphology. Light optical and scanning electron microscopy techniques can be used to establish Fatigue striations in austenitic stainless steelthe presence of beach marks and fatigue striations or to establish if cracking exhibits a transgranular or intergranular morphology. We document our results using photographs.

Chemical Evaluations

We can provide chemical evaluations of the base material, surface deposits, crack deposits and weld metals, using energy‐dispersive spectroscopy techniques, X‐ray diffraction and/or wet chemical analysis techniques. For detailed surface characterization, we use a SEM‐EDS equipped with a focused ion beam mill.


Scanning Electron Microscopy

The MCOE laboratory facilities includes three scanning electron microscopes (SEMs), each with varying capabilities. A summary of these instruments and their uses is as follows:

• Dual beam FIB, which is a variable pressure SEM with an Orsay Physics Canion FIB column
• Equipped with Oxford Instruments XMax 80 XEDS, Oxford EBSD detector, low vacuum secondary electron detector, mono-gas injection system and sample manipulator for making TEM lamella of irradiated materials
• Analysis of radioactive specimens can be performed using this equipment 


• High resolution SEM for evaluation of unirradiated specimens Zeiss SUPRA‐40 FE‐SEM
• Equipped with an 80mm2 SDD XEDS detector for ultra-high count rates for elemental identification and mapping (ideally suited for high-res/low voltage imaging of non-conductive specimens)
• Equipped with a fast EBSD detector/camera for grain orientation and crystallographic information of polished samples 

Tescan Vega-3 XMU SEM

• Attached to SEM Hot Cell (refer to Hot Cell section)
• Analysis of radioactive specimens can be performed using this equipment 

Transmission Electron Microscopy

FEI CM-300 FEG-TEM – for characterization of radioactive and clean specimens

  1. High resolution FEG with twin objective lens and compu-stage control
  2. Scanning unit (STEM) with bright field and dark field detectors
  3. Oxford Instruments Si(Li) XEDS detector
  4. Gatan Orius SC1000B 11 MP fast CCD detector, well-suited for imaging as well as  diffraction pattern acquisition
  5. Image acquisition and feature analysis capabilities

This TEM is also equipped with a Si(Li) X‐ray energy‐dispersive spectroscopy detector for TEM‐XEDS and STEM‐XEDS analysis. For TEM imaging, we have atan Orius SC1000B , which is an 11‐MP CCD camera . Radioactive specimens can be analyzed using this equipment.

Specimen Preparation
We can provide both conventional grinding, polishing, and etching to perforation of TEM specimens as well as FIB TEM specimen preparation.

  TEM micrograph of highly neutron irradiated (i.e., ~33dpa stainless steel  STEM-XEDS of dispersed fuel crud

X-Ray Diffraction

X‐ray diffraction (XRD) identifies materials by measuring diffracted X‐ rays from microcrystalline samples. Our XRD has a high‐speed Si strip detector, which has increased data acquisition times by approximately 20 to 100 times. In addition, the equipment includes specialized X‐ray optics for performing X‐ray micro‐ diffraction and residual stress measurements.

Radioactive specimens can be analyzed using this equipment.

PANalytical X’Pert Pro MPD X‐ray diffractometer

PANalytical X’Pert Pro MPD X‐ray diffractometer


Our team is happy to help train your staff in the understanding of technical issues, process safety programs or audits, regulations and more.  We perform process safety audits as part of a comprehensive hazards analysis and can work with you to make sure your staff is supplied with skills training needs in many ways including: 

Level I - Gap Analysis
Level II - training & consulting
Level III - Program Development and Implementation

Partial List of Services Offered:
• Reviews and upgrades of all your safety process systems and regulatory requirements
• VPP Consulting
• Audits, reviews, and upgrades of all your Operating, Safety, and Maintenance Procedures
• Training program evaluations for both completeness and effectiveness (from technical skills to professional development) and upgrades where
• Reviews and upgrades of your program elements such as Employee Participation and Process Safety Information for effectiveness and completeness
• Work process effectiveness evaluations and upgrades
• Overall organizational development (e.g., motivation, work processes)
• Stress reduction
• Evaluations of the effectiveness of communication

We design, custom develop and deliver any site specific training materials needed by your organization. Our Consultants, Engineers and Technical Specialists are available to deliver the classroom, lab or on-the-job training your staff needs. In addition, we will assist with the identification and procurement of commercially available training materials where available.