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A carbon-molybdenum (ASTM A209 Grade T1) steel superheater tube section in an 8.6 MPa (1250 psig) boiler cracked because of long-term overheating damage that resulted from prolonged exposure to metal temperatures between 482 deg C (900 deg F) and 551 deg C (1025 deg F). The outer diameter of the tube exhibited a crack (fissure) oriented approximately 45 deg to the longitudinal axis and 3.8 cm (1.5 in.) long. The inner diameter surface showed a fissure in the same location and orientation. Microstructure at the failure near the outer diameter surface exhibited evidence of creep cracking and creep void formation at the fissure. A nearly continuous band of graphite nodules was observed on the surface of the fissure. In addition to the graphite band formation, the microstructure near the failure exhibited carbide spheroidization from long-term overheating in all the tube regions examined. It was concluded that preferential nucleations of graphite nodules in a series of bands weakened the steel locally, producing preferred fracture paths. Formation of these graphite bands probably expedited the creep failure of the tube. Future failures may be avoided by using low-alloy steels with chromium additions such as ASTM A213 Grade T11 or T22, which are resistant to graphitization damage.

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