Forensic Engineers & Investigators

Forensic Engineering

We provide an in depth and detailed analysis of engineering failures, accidents, safety incidents and contractual issues.

Forensic and investigative engineering involves the assessment of information from a wide variety of technical sources to determine causes of failure, prevent accidents or to optimise an engineering process. Examples of these sources include: materials research, metallurgical analysis, electronic and plant diary logs, human testimony, human factors analysis, engineering calculations, design and operational standards, Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s) and site inspections. Our capabilities and services include the ability and resources to capture and assess a wide variety of information from sources such as these.

The forensic engineering services that we provide enables lawyers and engineers to manage their cases in a way that crystallises important questions and if appropriate, provides technical information that can support their client’s objectives and implement cost effective solutions.

Case study: corrosion pitting and cracking of a heat resistant steel tube.

Steel tubes in a critical industrial heat exchanger had suffered repeated failures due to pitting, cracking and accelerated wastage. In our investigation a defective tube was removed and after inspection was sectioned and subject to metallography, followed by detailed analysis utilising scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and energy dispersive X-ray analysis (EDS). The purpose of the analysis was to determine how the protective oxide scale had performed in protecting the surface of the alloy steel tube from its corrosive environment.

As the following images show, variations in crack morphology indicated that stress levels had been high and of variable magnitude. Analysis of the scale showed complex foliated layering and composition variation possibly due to varying stress levels and changes in the environment as the scale formed. The composition changes and associated void formation reduced the adhesion of the scale, compromising its ability to protect the underlying alloy tube. The resulting damage allowed corrosion pits to form and a fatigue crack then developed in the

Note: Some details have been omitted for explanatory purposes and in order to maintain confidentiality.

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