Failure of a Reformer Tube Weld by Cracking
An HK-40 alloy tubing weld in a reformer furnace of a petrochemical plant failed by leaking after a shorter time than that predicted by design specifications. Leaking occurred because of cracks that passed through the thickness of the weldment. Analysis of the cracked tubing indicated that the sulfur and phosphorus contents of the weld metal were higher than specified, the thickness was narrower at the weld, and the mechanical resistance of the weld metal was lower than specified. Cracking initiated at the weld root by coalescence of creep cavities. Propagation and expansion was aided by internal carburization. Quality control of welding procedures and filler metal was recommended.