Unusual Joint Failure Steam Pipe Range
In a main range in a power station, steam was conveyed at a pressure of 645 psi, and a temperature of 454 deg C (850 deg F). Pipe diameter was 9 in. and the joints were of the bolted type in which a thin steel ring, serrated on both sides, was inserted between plain flanges. Thin jointing material was interposed between the serrated faces and the flanges. The first intimation of trouble was the onset of a high pitched noise audible over a radius of a quarter of a mile. The noise arose from violent lateral vibration of the serrated ring, which attained an amplitude and persisted for a sufficient number of cycles to produce an extensive system of fatigue cracks that resulted in partial disintegration of the ring. Microscopic examination of the material showed it to be a mild steel of satisfactory quality. The trouble was started by slight leakage, possibly resulting from a relaxation of the interfacial pressure on the joint faces, which eroded away the joint material locally at one face of the serrated ring. This reduced interfacial pressure at the opposite face of the ring, with resultant leakage and erosion of the joint material on this side.