Failure of Steam Pipe at Local Defects
During a hydraulic test on one of the boilers in a range, leakage occurred from the lower surface of a horizontal S bend in the main steam pipe between the drum connector box and the junction valve. The pipe in question was 15 in. bore and had been in service for about 50 years. Specimens were prepared for microscopical examination to include the defective zone and a section through a circumferential crack. The defective zone was found to contain numerous inclusions of slag and oxides of globular form. Regions surrounding the inclusions were decarburized, the indications being that this region of the plate had been heated to an excessively high temperature. A corrosion-fatigue fissure was at one location, this having originated at the internal surface of the pipe and run into an inclusion in the defective zone. The failure resulted from the development of corrosion-fatigue fissures which originated at a zone containing defects introduced at the time of manufacture. These may have had their origin in the ingot from which the plate was rolled or, alternatively, be indicative of a zone which suffered overheating and local burning at the time the forge weld was made.