Cracking in a Boiler Steam Drum
During the inspection of a boiler containing cracks at the superheater header connection, cracking also was detected within the main steam drum. This was fabricated from a Mn-Mo-V low-alloy steel. It operated with water and saturated steam at approximately 335 deg C. Cracking was detected at the nozzles connecting the tubes for the entry of steam and hot water to the drum, at the downcomers, and at the connection to the safety valve. All cracks had a similar morphology, running in a longitudinal direction along the drum from the cutouts in the shell. All the cracks had developed under the influence of the hoop stress and were associated with the locally increased stress levels relating to the cutouts at nozzle and pipe connections. At their ends the cracks were filled with corrosion products, and their surfaces were seen to be very irregular. The process of crack growth was not due to fatigue only but can most probably be attributed to corrosion fatigue. The boiler steam drum design should be reviewed to reduce the local level of stress at the shell-nozzle connections.