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An air compressor was installed at a chemical plant in which nitric acid was produced by burning ammonia with air. It was a 5000 hp, 5-stage centrifugal machine running at 6000 rpm, compressing air to 5 atm. Failure of the first stage impeller occurred due to a segment from the back plate becoming detached. On the remaining portion, cracks were visible running between the holes for rivets by which the vanes were attached. Metallographic examination of selected sections from the backplate revealed the material to be in the hardened and tempered condition, and the cracking to have initiated on...

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