Intergranular Fracture of Steam Generator Tubes
A power plant using two steam generators (vertical U-tube and shell heat exchangers, approximately 21 m (68 ft) high with a steam drum diameter of 6 m (20 ft)) experienced a steam generator tube rupture. Each steam generator contained 11,012 Inconel alloy 600 (nickel-base alloy) tubes measuring 19 mm OD, nominal wall thickness of 1.0 mm (0.042 in.), and average length of 18 m (57.75 ft). The original operating temperature of the reactor coolant was 328 deg C (621 deg F). A tube removal effort was conducted following the tube rupture event. Investigation (visual inspection, SEM fractographs, and micrographs) showed evidence of IGSCC initiating at the OD and IGA under ridgelike deposits that were analyzed and found to be slightly alkaline to very alkaline (caustic) in nature. Crack oxide analysis indicated sulfate levels in excess of expected values. The analysis supported the conclusion that that the deposits formed at locations that experienced steam blanketing or dryout at the higher levels of the steam generators. Recommendations included steam generator water-chemistry controls, chemical cleaning, and reduction of the primary reactor coolant system temperature.