Failure Analysis of a Steam Reformer Tube
Microstructural examinations on transverse cross sections of a steam reformer tube, showed the presence of large macrovoids elongated in the radial direction and emanating from the internal surface of the tube. The macrovoids were located at the interdendritic regions, and were partially filled by a Mn-Fe bearing chromium oxide film. The areas adjacent to the oxide film were chemically depleted in C, Cr and Mn and rich in Fe and Ni. Associated with this depletion were a large concentration of microvoids. It was suggested that the dissolution of carbides in areas surrounding the macrovoids and the concentration of stresses at their tips, caused extensive localized plastic deformation which led to the formation of microvoids and subsequently to the spalling of the oxide film. The non-protective character of the film induced a progressive deterioration of the grain boundaries properties. Grain boundary sliding and dislocation motion were enhanced, causing a local increase in the steady state strain rate and the premature failure of the tube.