Creep Failure of a Superheater Tube Promoted by Graphitization
Tube 3 from a utility boiler in service for 13 years under operating conditions of 540 deg C (1005 deg F), 13.7 MPa (1990 psi) and 1,189,320 kg/h (2,662,000 lb/h) incurred a longitudinal rupture near its 90 deg bend while Tube 4 from the same boiler exhibited deformation near its bend. Metallographic examination revealed creep voids near the rupture in addition to graphite nodules. Exposure of the SA209 Grade T1A steel tubing to a calculated mean operating temperature of 530 deg C (983 deg F) for the 13 years resulted in graphitization and subsequent creep failure in Tube 3. The deformation in Tube 4 was likely the result of steam washing from the Tube 3 failure. Graphitization observed remote from the rupture in Tube 3 and in Tube 4 indicated that adjacent tubing also was susceptible to creep failure. In-situ metallography identified other graphitized tubes to be replaced during a scheduled outage.