CGA & EIGA Issue Joint Statement Regarding Sumitomo Precision Products Brazed Aluminum Heat Exchangers

July 24, 2020

On July 16, 2020, CGA President and CEO Rich Gottwald and EIGA General Secretary Philippe Cornille co-signed a joint statement outlining the Associations’ position on Sumitomo Precision Products brazed aluminum heat exchangers. This statement was submitted to the editors of gasworld and published on the gasworld website on July 17, 2020. The joint statement is reprinted below in its entirety:

July 16, 2020

CGA/EIGA Joint Statement

TO: gasworld Editors

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 aluminum 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 aluminum heat exchangers to cryogenic plant designers, builders, and operators for use in industrial gas plants for many years. Brazed aluminum 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 aluminum heat exchangers are considered pressure vessels, which require fabrication, inspection, and testing to specific regional standards, learning that some brazed aluminum 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 aluminum 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 aluminum 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 aluminum heat exchangers are reliable and safe. SPP’s reported nonconformance 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