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Abstract

An interstage radiator gas coil began leaking after only 45 days of service. The original brass coil with several aluminum fins was replaced three times but each replacement lasted less than a day. After removing the fins, leaks were found at circumferential cracks. A section of a tube was removed and split, revealing a series of cracks, evenly spaced. Crack spacing coincided with fin spacing, indicating that stresses incurred during installation of the fins promoted failure. Metallographic examination showed intergranular, branched cracking, characteristic of stress corrosion failures, with the cracks starting on the inside surfaces of the tubes. There was no known corrosive agent in the system, and no other corrosion damage could be found. Qualitative tests and spectrographic analysis gave a positive indication for mercury. The spacing of the cracks, the branched intergranular cracking, the rapid failure, and presence of mercury led to the conclusion of stress-corrosion cracking. It was impossible to remove mercury from the system so carbon steel coils were substituted for the brass ones. The carbon steel coils gave failure-free service for over nine years.

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Paul Ogden, Stress-Corrosion Cracking of a Brass Radiator Coil, ASM Failure Analysis Case Histories: Failure Modes and Mechanisms, ASM International, 2019, https://doi.org/10.31399/asm.fach.modes.c9001012

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