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A cold-formed Grade TP 304 stainless steel swaged region of a reheater tube in service for about 8000 hours cracked because of sulfur-induced stress-corrosion cracking (SCC). Cracking initiated from the external surface and a high sulfur content was detected in the outer diameter and crack deposits. Comparison of the microstructure and hardness of the swaged region and unswaged Grade TP 304 stainless steel tube metal indicated that the swaged section was not annealed to reduce the effects of cold working. The high hardness created during swaging increased the stainless steel's susceptibility to sulfur-induced SCC. Because SCC requires water to be present, cracking most likely occurred during downtime or startups. To prevent future failures, the boiler should be kept dry during downtime to avoid formation of sulfur acids, and the swaged sections of the tubes should be heat treated after swaging to reduce or eliminate strain hardening of the metal.

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Anthony C. Studer, Robert S. Dickens, Stress-Corrosion Cracking of a Swaged Stainless Steel Reheater Pendent Tube, Handbook of Case Histories in Failure Analysis, Vol 2, Edited By Khlefa A. Esaklul, ASM International, 1993, p 230–234,

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