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Gross wastage and embrittlement were observed in plain carbon steel desuperheaters in five new Naval power plants. The gross wastage could be duplicated in laboratory bomb tests using sodium hydroxide solutions and was concluded to be caused by free caustic concentrated by high heat flux. The embrittlement was shown to be caused by the flow of corrosion generated hydrogen which converted the cementite to methane which nucleated voids in the steel. A thermodynamic estimate indicated that a small amount of chromium would stabilize the carbides against decomposition by hydrogen in this temperature range, and laboratory tests with 2-14% Cr steel verified this.

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B. F. Brown, Failure of Steam-Water Heat Exchangers, ASM Failure Analysis Case Histories: Offshore, Shipbuilding, and Marine Equipment, ASM International, 2019,

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