Failure of a Hastelloy X Reactor-Vessel Wall
A portion of the wall of a reactor vessel used in burning impurities from carbon particles failed by localized melting. The vessel was made of Hastelloy X (Ni-22Cr-9Mo-18Fe). Considering the service environment, melting could have been caused either by excessive carburization (which would have lowered the melting point of the alloy markedly) or by overheating. A small specimen containing melted and unmelted metal was removed from the vessel wall and examined metallographically. It was observed that the interface between the melted zone and the unaffected base metal was composed of large grains and enlarged grain boundaries. An area a short distance away from the melted zone was fine grained and relatively free of massive carbides. This evidence supported the conclusion that the vessel failed by melting that resulted from heating to about 1230 to 1260 deg C (2250 to 2300 deg F), which exceeded normal operating temperatures, and carburization was not the principal cause of failure. No recommendations were made.