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Schedule 80 low-carbon steel pipes used to transfer kraft liquor in a Kamyr continuous pulp digester failed within 18 months after installation. Visual and metallographic examinations established that the cracking initiated on the internal surfaces of the equalizer pipes in the welds and heat-affected zones (HAZs). Fracture/crack morphology was brittle and primarily intergranular and deposits at crack tips were primarily iron oxides with significant amounts of sodium compounds. On these bases, the cracking was characterized as intergranular stress-corrosion cracking (IGSCC). Corrosion-related deterioration was not found, indicating that the material was generally suitable for the intended service. High residual tensile stresses in the welds and HAZS, resulting from field welding under highly constrained conditions using inadequate weld procedures, were the most probable cause of the failures. Minimizing residual stresses through use of welding procedures that include appropriate preweld and interpass temperatures and postweld stress relief heat treatment at 650 deg C (1200 deg F) was recommended to prevent further failures.

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