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During microscopic examination of a number of cases of caustic cracking, a certain feature has been recognized that appeared to be associated only with caustic cracking. This was a preferential attack on the carbide envelopes and lamellae of the pearlite grains. Evidence suggests that the intergranular path of caustic cracks in steam boilers may be due largely to the presence, probably on a submicroscopic scale, of carbides at the grain boundaries, thus rendering these regions susceptible to preferential attack. It is known that some steels are more liable to develop caustic cracks than others, although their microstructures may not show any significant differences, and it seems probable that this behavior may be related to the amount and continuity of the grain-boundary carbides.

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Caustic Cracking in Steam Boilers, ASM Failure Analysis Case Histories: Failure Modes and Mechanisms, ASM International, 2019,

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