Failure Analysis of Fire Tube Sleeve of Heater Treater
A sleeve-shaped fire shield that operates inside one of two burner trains in an oil and gas processing unit ruptured after 15 y of service. A detailed analysis was conducted to determine how and why the sleeve failed. The investigation included visual inspection, chemical and gas analysis, mechanical property testing, stereomicroscopy, and metallographic examination. The fire sleeves are fabricated from 3-mm thick plate made of Incoloy 800 rolled into 540-mm diam sections welded along the seam. Three such sections are joined together by circumferential welds to form a single 2.8 m sleeve. The findings from the investigation indicated that internal oxidation corrosion, driven by high temperatures, was the primary cause of failure. Prolonged exposure to temperatures up to 760 °C resulted in sensitization of the material, making it vulnerable to grain boundary attack. This led to significant deterioration of the grain boundaries, causing extensive grain loss (grain dropping) and the subsequent thinning of sleeve walls. Prior to failure, some portions of the sleeve were only 1.6 mm thick, nearly half their original thickness.
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