Failure of a Reheat Steam Piping Line at a Power-Generating Station
A 75 cm OD x 33 mm thick pipe in a horizontal section of a hot steam reheat line ruptured after 15 years in service. The failed section was manufactured from rolled plate of material specification SA387, grade C. The longitudinal seam weld was a double butt-weld that was V-welded from both sides and failure was found to propagate along the longitudinal seam and its HAZ. The fracture surface near the inner wall of the pipe was found to have a bluish gray appearance, while the fracture surface near the outer wall was rust colored (oxides). The transverse-to-the-weld specimen from the longitudinal seam weld was revealed to have lower elongation and a shear type failure rather than the cup-cone failures. It was concluded that the welded longitudinal seam exhibited embrittlement. A low-ductility intergranular fracture that progressed through the weld metal was revealed by scanning electron microscopy. The cracks were revealed to be in existence for some time before the final failure which was indicated by the extent and amount of corrosion products. It was concluded that low ductility was responsible for the original initiation of cracks in the pipe.