Waste Heat Recovery Boiler Corrosion at Copper Smelter

How a copper smelter addressed waste heat boiler downtime, high replacement costs, and logistical challenges

Avoided Downtime and Replacement Costs

Traditionally, the copper smelter plant faced significant challenges with the waste heat boiler, experiencing only 11 to 13 months of service life for critical panels. This led to extensive downtime, high replacement costs, and logistical challenges, particularly exacerbated by supply chain disruptions due to the COVID-19 situation.

IGS intervened with a high velocity thermal spray (HVTS) cladding solution, aiming to extend the intervals between turnarounds. The successful application resulted in a remarkable avoidance of downtime and replacement costs, contributing significantly to the project’s return on investment.


Waste Heat Boiler replacement panel before IGS HVTS cladding


Waste Heat Boiler replacement panel cladded with IGS HVTS

Identification of WHB Corrosion and Erosion Issues and Initial Contact

The copper smelter plant in Chile, facing corrosion and erosion issues in their waste heat boiler, had historically resorted to panel replacements, single tube replacement and weld build-up strategies. The turning point occurred when a representative came across another waste heat boiler reliability project delivered by IGS and approached the company seeking alternative solutions. This led to a comprehensive technical presentation to the plant’s maintenance and commercial teams.

Contract Award and Thermal Spray Application

Following successful presentations and discussions, IGS secured a contract for a 70-square-meter application of their proprietary HVTS high-nobility alloy. The application took place in a laydown yard in October 2022, targeting critical areas of the waste heat boiler.


Critical areas of the waste heat boiler were cleaned to facilitate inspection

Fouling was removed with a grinder to verify HVTS cladding integrity and to take MLO readings

Inspection Post Cladding Application

The waste heat boiler ran continuously until the end of September 2023. In August, anticipating an outage, IGS mobilized an inspection crew, including local representatives from Chile. Despite a tight five-hour window, the team conducted a thorough inspection using magnetic lift-off (MLO) gauge testing. The results were overwhelmingly positive, with the cladding exhibiting no degradation after 11.5 months of service. Kevin Phillips, who has overseen both the project and inspection, described the cladding as in-applied condition.

Kevin Phillips, who has overseen both the project and inspection, described the cladding as in-applied condition. “In all my years as a technical solutions partner, I have never had a client hug me. They were so pleased with the outcome!”, said Kevin.

Future Collaborations and Market Expansion

The success of the waste heat boiler project paved the way for potential collaborations on other critical components within the copper smelter. Converter hoods, copper cooling plates, and other identified assets are now under consideration for IGS solutions. The client’s satisfaction has positioned IGS as a trusted partner.

Conclusion of a successful High Velocity Thermal Spray Application

Corrosion Eliminated from Waste Heat Recovery Boiler at a Copper Smelter

The IGS project on the waste heat boiler at the copper smelter stands as a testament to the company’s innovative solutions, delivering both commercial benefits and engineering excellence. This case study exemplifies how IGS’s proactive approach and proven solutions can transform operational challenges into opportunities for extended asset life and enhanced productivity.

How can IGS’ SMARTGard® Thermal Spray Cladding Services eliminate corrosion?


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Colin Bateman

IGS Subject Matter Expert


Metals & Mining
Thermal spray

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