Intergranular Failure of Austenitic Steel Pump Spindle
A 1-in. diam pump spindle fractured within the length covered by the boss of the impeller which was attached to the spindle by means of an axial screw. The pump had been in use in a chemical plant handling mixtures of organic liquids and dilute sulfuric acid having a pH value of 2 to 4 at temperatures of 80 to 90 deg C (176 to 194 deg F). The fracture was unusual in that it was of a fibrous nature, the fibers-which were orientated radially-were readily detachable. The surface of the spindle adjacent to the fracture had an etched appearance and the mode of cracking in this region suggested that failure resulted from an intergranular attack. Subsequent microscope examination confirmed the generally intergranular mode of failure. A macro-etched section near the fracture revealed a radial arrangement of columnar crystals, indicating that the spindle was a cast and not a wrought product as had been presumed. Spectroscope examination showed this particular composition (Fe-23Cr-18Ni-1.8Mo-1.2Si) did not conform to a standard specification and is apparently a proprietary alloy. It was evident that the particular mode of failure was related to the inherent structure of the material.