Fracture of a Brine-Heater Shell at Welds
The brine-heater shell in a seawater-conversion plant failed by bursting along a welded joint connecting the hot well (C70600 per ASTM B 466) to the heater shell (ASTM A285, grade C steel). Three cracks in the welded joints between the heater shell and the hot well were revealed by visual inspection. It was observed that crack 1 and 2 were covered with high-temperature oxidation products which revealed that the surfaces had been separated for quite some time. A very high discontinuity stress which existed at the longitudinal welds between the hot well and the heater shell was revealed by stress analysis. It was interpreted that the cracks had originated shortly after the heater was put into operation and propagated slowly initially. The rate of propagation was interpreted to have increased due to discontinuity stresses greater than yield strength of the material. It was concluded that the brine heater cracked and fractured because it was overstressed in normal operation. The heater design was modified to make the heater shell and the hot well two separate units. A relief valve was recommended in the heater or in the steam line near the heater.