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An E-Brite /Ferralium explosively bonded tube sheet in a nitric acid condenser was removed from service because of corrosion. Visual and metallographic examination of tube sheet samples revealed severe cracking in the heat-affected zone between the outer tubes and the weld joining the tube sheet to the floating skirt. Cracks penetrated deep into the tube sheet, and occasionally into the tube walls. The microstructures of both alloys and of the weld appeared normal. Intergranular corrosion characteristic of end-grain attack was apparent. A low dead spot at the skirt / tube sheet joint allowed the Nox to condense and subsequently reboil. This, coupled with repeated repair welding in the area, reduced resistance to acid attack. Intergranular corrosion continued until failure. Recommendations included changing operating parameter inlet to prevent HNO3 condensation outside the inlet and replacement of the floating skirt with virgin material (i.e., material unaffected by weld repairs).

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