Rupture of a Carbon Steel Tube Because of Hydrogen-Induced Cracking and Decarburization
A 75 mm OD x 7.4 mm wall thickness carbon steel boiler tube ruptured. A substantial degree of corrosion on the water-side surface leaving a rough area in the immediate vicinity of the rupture was revealed by visual examination. Decarburization and extensive discontinuous intergranular cracking was revealed by microscopic examination of a cross section through the tube wall at the fracture. It was concluded that the rupture occurred because of hydrogen damage involving the formation of methane by the reaction of dissolved hydrogen with carbon in the steel. Hydrogen was produced by the chemical reaction that corroded the internal tube surface. Steel embrittled by hydrogen can be restored only if grain boundary cracking or decarburization had not occurred but since the material embrittled in this manner, its replacement was recommended.