Leaking Welds in a Ferritic Stainless Steel Wastewater Vaporizer
A nozzle in a wastewater vaporizer began leaking after approximately three years of service with acetic and formic acid wastewaters at 105 deg C (225 deg F) and 414 kPa (60 psig). The shell of the vessel was weld fabricated from 6.4 mm (0.25 in.) E-Brite stainless steel plate and measured 1.5 m (58 in.) in diameter and 8.5 m (28 ft) in length. Investigation (visual inspection, chemical analysis, radiography, dye-penetrant inspection, and hydrostatic testing of all E-Brite welds, 4x images, 100x/200x images electrolytically etched with 10% oxalic acid, and V-notch Charpy testing) supported the conclusion that failure of the nozzle weld was the result of intergranular corrosion caused by the pickup of interstitial elements and subsequent precipitation of chromium carbides and nitrides. Carbon pickup was believed to have been caused by inadequate joint cleaning prior to welding. The increase in the weld nitrogen level was a direct result of inadequate argon gas shielding of the molten weld puddle. Two areas of inadequate shielding were identified: improper gas flow rate for a 19 mm (0.75 in.) diam gas lens nozzle, and contamination of the manifold gas system. Recommendations included changes in the cleaning and welding process.