Examination of Corroded Boiler Tubes
A backwell tube situated in the combustion chamber of a 100 atm boiler, which had been in service for many years, failed. The temperature of the saturated steam was about 300 deg C. Two pipe sections with attacked areas in the circumferential welding joint were examined for cause of failure. First section showed strong pit or trench-like attack in the welding seam on the inner surface. A bluish-black corrosion product adhered to the pits. The second section showed small blisters at the welding seam. The metallographic examination of the first section showed welding seam was strongly reduced in bulk from the inside and covered with a thick crumbling layer of magnetic iron oxide (Fe3-O4). This was a corrosion product resulting from the operation of the boiler. In addition, it was decarburized from the inside, and interspersed with grain boundary cracks. This form of attack is typical for the decarburization of steel by high-pressure hydrogen. Hence, the defects in the pipe sections were the result of scaling during the operation of the steam boiler. It was recommended to avoid unnecessary overheating during the welding of materials for high-pressure steam boiler operations.