Cracking at a Superheater Header Connection
Examination of the header of the third superheater of a boiler producing 150 t/h of steam at 525 deg C and 118 kPa, disclosed extensive internal cracking at the connection to the tube joining this to a safety valve. Cracking was observed within the tube and in the thickness of the shell wall itself. The boiler had been in operation for approximately 160,000 h and was shut down for inspection when the cracking was detected. The material involved was 2.25 Cr, 1 Mo steel, and the unit had been subjected to 115 shutdowns. Initiation of the cracks was attributed to thermal shock, caused by the periodic return of condensate along the long connecting line (some 9 m long). Propagation of the cracks was due to thermal cycling, together with periodic pressure cycles, producing growth by low cycle fatigue. This was aided by corrosion within the cracks and by the wedging action caused by corrosion deposits at their tips. The failure suggests control of dissolved solids in the boiler feedwater may have been inadequate.