Chloride Cracking of an Austenitic Stainless Steel Process Vessel Heating Coil
A process vessel heating coil, consisting of several 3 ft diam turns, was supplied with steam at 400 psi and a temperature of 343 deg C (650 deg F). At bi-weekly intervals well water was introduced to effect rapid cooling of the contents. After about eight months, leakage developed from a circumferential crack on the underside of the uppermost turn. Shorter cracks were found at a similar location on the bottom turn, and further leakage occurred at pinhole perforations adjacent to the crack in the top turn and near to a butt-weld in the coil. Microscopic examination revealed that the cracks were predominantly of the intergranular variety. In addition, transgranular cracks were present. Material was an austenitic stainless steel of the type specified but the absence of columbium and titanium in significant amounts showed that it was not stabilized against intergranular carbide precipitation. The transgranular cracks indicated that failure was due partly to stress-corrosion. It was concluded that the chlorides provided the main corrodent for both the stress and intercrystalline-corrosion cracking.