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Austenitic stainless steel (X 10 Cr-Ni-Mo-Ti 18 10, Material No. 1.4571) cooling coils were found leaking in 15 spots after eight weeks of service in an apparatus in which ammonium sulfide solution was converted into ammonium sulfate. The external temperature of the coil was approximately 175 deg C and it was cooled by water at 3 atm. Examination of two sections of the coil showed pinhead size pitting cavities at the exterior surface and partially parallel and partially angled array of fine cracks on external as well as the internal surfaces of the bend. Metallographic examination conducted on longitudinal and transverse sections showed predominantly transcrystalline cracks, originated from the pits at the external surfaces of the pipe. Their appearance suggested they were stress corrosion cracks that occur in austenitic steels under the combined effect of stresses and certain corrosion agents, especially chlorides. If chlorides were absent, hydrogen sulfide which causes similar pitting and is capable of causing cracks could be suspected. Favorable state of stresses, which could be residual or due to heat treating, bending or straightening operations, would be recommended for better behavior of the container.

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