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A low-carbon steel (St35.8) tube in a phthalic anhydride reactor system failed. Visual and stereomicroscopic examination of fracture surfaces revealed heavy oxide/deposits on the outer surface of the tube, tube wall thinning in the area of the fracture, and discolorations and oxides/deposits on the inner surface. Cross sections from the fracture surface were metallographically examined, and the deposits were analyzed. It was determined that the tube had thinned from the inner surface because of a localized overheating condition (probably resulting from a runaway chemical reaction within the tube) and then fractured, which allowed molten salt to flow into the tube.

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