Damage in a Gas Turbine Hot Gas Casing
The hot gas casing of a gas turbine used for peak load power production had developed extensive cracking during operation. The operating time was 18,000 h, and it had been subjected to 1,600 operating cycles. The gas temperature on the hot side was 985 deg C, on the cold side 204 deg C, the material being AISI 321 stainless steel. The purpose of the present study was to determine optimum repair welding procedures on the premise that the material was basically sound and undamaged by creep. The cracking was the result of thermal fatigue, and such cracks can propagate at elevated temperature, with damage ahead of the crack tip occurring by means of very local processes of creep. Metallographic examination disclosed heavy surface layers of carbides, such that the material was extremely brittle when subjected to bending. Accordingly, although it was demonstrated that the casing could be welded successfully, it was suggested that the remaining useful life was effectively exhausted and that it should be replaced. Thermal stresses produced during operation would rapidly result in additional cracks.