Stress-Corrosion Cracking of Inconel X-750 Springs
Several of the springs, made of 1.1 mm diam Inconel X-750 wire and used for tightening the interstage packing ring in a high-pressure turbine, were found broken after approximately seven years of operation. Intergranular cracks about 1.3 mm in depth and oriented at an angle of 45 deg to the axis of the wire were revealed by metallographic examination. A light-gray phase, which had the appearance of liquid-metal corrosion, was observed to have penetrated the grains on the fracture surfaces. The spring wires were found to fracture in a brittle manner characteristic of fracture from torsional loading (along a plane 45 deg to the wire axis). Liquid-metal embrittlement was expected to have been caused by metals (Sn, Zn, Pb) which melt much below maximum service temperature of the turbine. The springs were concluded to have fractured by intergranular stress-corrosion cracking promoted by the action of liquid zinc and tin in combination with static and torsional stresses on the spring wire. As a corrective measure, Na, Sn, and Zn which were present in pigmented oil used as a lubricant during spring winding was cleaned thoroughly by the spring manufacturer before shipment to remove all contaminants.