Single-Phase Erosion Corrosion of a 460 mm (18 in.) Diam Feedwater Line Break
A 460 mm (18 in.) diam suction line to the main feed water pump for a nuclear power plant failed in a violent, catastrophic manner. Samples of pipe, elbow, and weld materials (ASTM A106 grade B carbon steel, ASTM A234 grade WPB carbon steel, and E7018 carbon steel electrode, respectively) from the suction line were analyzed. Evidence of overall thinning of the elbow and pipe material and ductile tearing of fractures indicated that the feed water pipe failed as a result of an erosion corrosion mechanism, which thinned the wall sufficiently to cause rapid, ductile tearing of the material after its design stress had been exceeded. It was recommended that steel with a higher chromium content be used to mitigate the erosion corrosion potential in the lines and that more rigorous nondestructive (ultrasonic) examinations be performed.