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The University of Southampton
Rifi An Enterprise Consultancy Unit

Case Study: Erosion testing of choke valves

Objective: Consideration of erosion is important during material selection in a variety of industry sectors, such as the offshore and aerospace industries.  The operating conditions for components used in the oil and gas industry are severe.  Choke valves, which regulate the flow of hydrocarbon fluids, are particularly susceptible to high velocity solid particle erosion.

The sonic air-sand erosion rig, designed and built by the Faculty of Engineering and the Environment staff at the University of Southampton, was used to characterise the erosion performance of candidate materials for these valves.


  • RIfI was commissioned to conduct a series of tests to obtain the erosion rates of novel compositions of hard ceramics.
  • Materials considered included tungsten carbide, silicon nitride, silicon carbide and partially stabilized zirconium.
  • The test rig allows the erosion performance of materials to be assessed in a cost effective manner.
  • What we did

  • Compared material performance at a range of impact energies, which was independent of particle size.
  • Calculated the erosion resistance of these materials from erosion maps by successfully replicating field conditions.
  • Provided component life predictions from the development of empirical equations.
  • Gave details of the impact between the erosion particles and the sample surface through the use of high speed photography.
  • Impact

  • Provision of the erosion damage mechanism enabled the client to make informed choices for future material compositions for its components.
  • The client benefited from RIfI's vast experience and expertise in tribology.
  • The performance of the client's materials was ranked against a range of previously tested materials in RIfI's database.
  • Choke valve for oil & gas application
    Choke valve
    Sonic air-sand erosion rig
    Sonic air-sand erosion rig

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