Failure of a Superheater Outlet Tube
After some 87,000 h of operation, failure took place in the bend of a steam pipe connecting a coil of the third superheater of a steam generator to the outlet steam collector. The unit operated at 538 deg C and 135 kPa, producing 400 t/h of steam. The 2.25Cr-1Mo steel pipe in which failure took place was 50.8 mm in diam with a nominal wall thickness of 8 mm. It connected to the AISI 321 superheater tube by means of a butt weld and was one of 46 such parallel connecting tubes. The Cr-Mo tubing was situated outside the heat transfer zone of the superheater. The overall sequence of failure involved overheating of the Cr-Mo outlet tubes, heavy oxidation, oxide cracking on thermal cycling, thermal fatigue cracking plus oxidation, creep-controlled crack growth, and rapid plastic deformation and rupture. This failure was indicative of excess temperature of the steam coming from the heat transfer zone of the coil. It showed that many damage mechanisms may combine in the transition from fracture initiation to final failure. The presence of grain boundary sliding as an indication of creep damage was useful in the characterization of the stress level as high and showed that the process of creep was not operative throughout the life of the equipment.