Stress Corrosion Cracking of Welded Butt Joints in Piping Handling Caustic Soda
The onset of leakage adjacent to two butt welds in a 2 in. bore pipe was traced to the development of fine cracks. The pipe carried 40% sodium hydroxide solution. The actual temperature was not known, but the pipeline was steam traced at a pressure of 30 psi, equivalent to a temperature of 130 deg C (266 deg F). Magnetic crack detection revealed circumferential crack-like indications situated a short distance from the butt weld. Cracking originated on the bore surfaces of the tube and was of an intergranular nature reminiscent of caustic cracking in steam boilers. The strength of the solution of caustic soda and possibly the temperature also were in the range known to produce stress-corrosion cracking of mild steels in the presence of stresses of sufficient magnitude. In this instance the location of the cracking suggested that residual stresses from welding, which approach yield point magnitude, were responsible. As all other welds were suspect, the remedy was to remove the joints and to reweld followed by local stress relief.