Demand of natural gas continues to increase in the recent years due to the rise of environmental issue and the drastic increase of crude oil price. These events led to the increase of constructions of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) storage tanks worldwide. The inner tank material for above ground LNG storage tanks have mostly been made of a 9% nickel steel plate over the last 50 years as it has excellent mechanical properties under the cryogenic temperature of −160deg-C. During this period, the LNG storage tanks made of 9%Ni steel plate have been operated safely at the many LNG export and import terminals in the world. Meanwhile, technologies of steel making, refinement, design, analysis, welding and inspection have been improved significantly and enabled enlarging volumetric capacity of the tank 2–3 times. There was a tendency for nickel price to increase in recent years. In such a circumstance lowering Ni content has focused attention on the 9%Ni steel as nickel is an expensive and valuable rare metal and a 7%Ni steel plate was eventually researched and developed by optimizing the chemical compositions and applying Thermo-Mechanical Controlled Process (TMCP). As a result, it was demonstrated that 7%Ni-TMCP steel plate had excellent physical and mechanical properties equivalent to those of 9%Ni steel plate. In order to evaluate fitness of the 7%Ni-TMCP steel plate and its weld for LNG storage tanks a series of testing was conducted. Several different plate thicknesses, i.e. 6,10,25,40 and 50 mm, were chosen to run large scale fracture toughness tests including duplex ESSO tests, cruciform wide plate tests as well as small scale tests. It was concluded that the 7%Ni-TMCP steel plate warrants serious consideration for use in LNG storage tanks. This paper reports details of the research and development of the 7%Ni-TMCP steel plate.

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