Failure of a Utility Boiler Drum During Hydrotesting
A 150 cm ID boiler drum made form ASTM A515, grade 70, steel failed during final hydrotesting at a pressure of approximately 26 MPa. Brittle fractures were revealed in between two SA-106C nozzles and remainder was found to involve tearing. Short, flat segments of fracture area, indicative of pre-existing cracks, were revealed by examination of the fracture surface at the drain grooves arc gouged at the nozzle sites. A thin layer of material with a dendritic structure was observed at the groove surface. The dendritic layer was revealed by qualitative microprobe analysis to contain over 1% C, higher than the carbon content of the base metal. The cracks in the drain groove surface could have occurred after arc gouging, during subsequent stress-relieving, or during the hydrostatic test. Flame cutting is not recommended for the type of steel used in the boiler drum because it can lead to local embrittlement and stress raisers, potentially initiating major failures.