Stress-Corrosion Cracking of Copper Alloy Tube Sheet
Tube sheets (found to be copper alloy C46400, or naval brass, and 5 cm (2 in.) thick) of an air compressor aftercooler were found to be cracked and leaking approximately 12 to 14 months after they had been retubed. Most of the tube sheets had been retubed several times previously because of unrelated tube failures. Sanitary (chlorinated) well water was generally used in the system, although filtered process make-up water (river water) containing ammonia was occasionally used. Investigation (visual inspection, chemical analysis, mercurous nitrate testing, unetched 5X micrographs, and 250X micrographs etched in 10% ammonium persulfate solution) supported the conclusion that the tube sheets failed by SCC as a result of the combined action of internal stresses and a corrosive environment. The internal stresses had been induced by retubing operations, and the environment had become corrosive when ammonia was introduced into the system by the occasional use of process make-up water. Recommendations included making a standard procedure to stress relieve tube sheets before each retubing operation. The stress relieving should be done by heating at 275 deg C (525 deg F) for 30 min and slowly cooling for 3 h to room temperature.