Feedwater Piping Erosion at a Waste-to-Energy Plant
The carbon steel feedwater piping at a waste-to-energy plant was suffering from wall thinning and leaking after being in service for approximately six years. Metallographic examination of ring sections removed front the piping revealed a normal microstructure consisting of pearlite and ferrite. However, the internal surface on the thicker regions of the rings exhibited significant deposit buildup, where the thinned regions showed none. No significant corrosion or pitting was observed on either the internal or external surface of the piping. The lack of internal deposits on the affected areas and the evidence of flow patterns indicated that the wall thinning and subsequent failure were caused by internal erosion damage. The exact cause of the erosion could not be determined by the appearance of the piping. Probable causes of the erosion include an excessively high velocity flow through the piping, extremely turbulent flow, and/or intrusions (weld backing rings or weld bead protrusions) on the internal surface of the pipes. Increasing the pipe diameter and decreasing the intrusions on the internal surface would help to eliminate the problem.