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A straight-tube cooler type heat exchanger had been in service for about ten years serving a coal pulverizer in Georgia. Non-potable cooling water from a local lake passed through the inner surfaces of the copper tubing and was cooling the hot oil that surrounded the outer diametral surfaces. Several of the heat exchangers used in the same application at the plant had experienced a severe reduction in efficiency in the past few years. One heat exchanger reportedly experienced some form of leakage following discovery of oil contaminating the cooling water. This heat exchanger was the subject of a failure investigation to determine the cause and location of the leaks. Corrosion products primarily contained copper oxide, as would be expected from a copper tubing. The product also exhibited the presence of a significant amount of iron oxides. Metallographic cross sectioning of the tubes and microscopic analysis revealed several large and small well rounded corrosion pits present at the inner diametral surfaces. The cause of corrosion was attributed to corrosive waters that were not only corroding the copper, but were corroding steel pipes upstream from the tubing.

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A.H. Khan, Corrosion of Copper Cooling-Water Tubing in a Heat Exchanger, ASM Failure Analysis Case Histories: Power Generating Equipment, ASM International, 2019,

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