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Graphitization, the formation of graphite nodules in carbon and low alloy steels, contributes to many failures in high-temperature environments. Three such failures in power-generating systems were analyzed to demonstrate the unpredictable nature of this failure mechanism and its effect on material properties and structures. In general, the more randomly distributed the nodules, the less effect they have on structural integrity. In the cases examined, the nodules were found to be organized in planar arrays, indicating they might have an effect on material properties. Closer inspection, however, revealed that the magnitude of the effect depends on the relative orientation of the planar arrangement and principle tensile stress. For normal orientation, the effect of embrittlement tends to be most severe. Conversely, when the orientation is parallel, the nodules have little or no effect. The cases examined show that knowledge is incomplete in regard to graphitization, and the prediction of its occurrence is not yet possible.

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Iván Uribe Pérez, Tito Luiz da Silveira, Tito Fernando da Silveira, Heloisa Cunha Furtado, Graphitization in Low Alloy Steel Pressure Vessels and Piping, Handbook of Case Histories in Failure Analysis, Vol 3, Edited By Larry Berardinis, ASM International, 2019, p 419–425,

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