Initial Scope:

Koniambo Nickel SAS (KNS) engaged SOTO Consulting Group to avoid catastrophic damage to part of the infrastructure of a massive nickel refinery as one of its primary boilers had developed cracks in the vessel shell and was in distress. The Director of Supply & Logistics urgently sought expert engineering support to aid Koniambo Nickel SAS (KNS) and requested the on-site attendance of a senior structural engineer from SOTO Consulting Engineers to assist the site engineers to develop a scope of work, determine solutions and identify the deliverables necessary to overcome the structural defects in the boiler structures.


Arrangements were immediately made for a SOTO senior structural engineer to attend the plant for inspections of plant elements, specifically identifying the severity of numerous defects and to classify priority issues.

Inspections of accessible plant elements were completed in six days with significant issues determined. The principal source of defects throughout the structures were found to be associated with thermal expansion and inefficacy of expansion joints, resulting in excessive forces via downward and upward vertical expansion.

To prevent possible catastrophic failure of the Boiler, remediation of apparent thermal expansion issues were urgently required. This requirement led SOTO to utilise their Advanced Analysis team to conduct modelling and global analysis of the ducting, cyclone and seal-pot utilising Finite Element Analysis (FEA) thereafter applying the results as an input to determine rectification solutions.


The Principal Engineer of SOTO collaborated on-site with Koniambo engineers in successfully developing a scope of work for the boiler remediation process. This scope included a global structural analysis using FEA to determine stress affected areas and methodology to overcome the issues caused by the stressors. The summation of the analysis by SOTO was presented to the site engineers with its conclusions aiding to further refine the steps in the remediation project being planned for mid-year 2016.

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