Você está na página 1de 7

10/6/2016

BoilerSystemFailures|GEWater

Login|Register|ContactUs|SiteMap
Industries Solutions Products AboutUs
Home
Products
Water
DeaeratorCracking
Treatment
FeedwaterLineErosion
Chemicals
EconomizerTubes
Handbookof
FailuresDuetoOverheating
Industrial
FailuresDuetoCorrosion
Water
Treatment
BoilerWater
Successful,reliableoperationofsteamgenerationequipmentrequirestheapplicationofthebestavailablemethodstopreventscaleand
Systems
corrosion.Whenequipmentfailuresdooccur,itisimportantthatthecauseoftheproblembecorrectlyidentifiedsothatpropercorrectivesteps
Chapter10 canbetakentopreventarecurrence.Anincorrectdiagnosisofafailurecanleadtoimpropercorrectivemeasuresthus,problemscontinue.
Boiler
Therearetimeswhenthereasonsforfailuresareobscure.Intheseinstances,considerableinvestigationmayberequiredtouncoverthecauses.
Feedwater
Deaeration However,inmostcasestheproblemareadisplayscertainspecific,telltalesigns.Whenthesecharacteristicsareproperlyinterpreted,thecause
Chapter11 ofaproblemandtheremedybecomequiteevident.
Preboiler
AndBoiler DEAERATORCRACKING
Corrosion
Innumerousdeaerators,crackshavedevelopedatweldsandheataffectedzonesnearthewelds.Thecrackingmostcommonlyoccursatthe
Control
Chapter12 headtoshellweldbelowthewaterlevelinthestoragecompartment.However,itmayalsooccurabovethewaterlevelandatlongitudinal
welds.Becausecrackscandeveloptothepointofequipmentfailure,theyrepresentapotentialsafetyhazardrequiringperiodicequipment
Boiler
inspectionand,whenwarranted,repairorreplacement.Wetfluorescentmagneticparticletestingisrecommendedforidentificationofcracks.
Deposits:
Occurence
AndControl
Chapter13
Boiler
Blowdown
Control
Chapter14
Boiler
System
Failures
Chapter15
Chemical
CleaningOf
Steam
Generator
Systems
Chapter16
SteamPurity
Chapter17
Measurement
OfSteam
Purity
Chapter18
Steam
Turbine
Deposition,
Erosion,and
Corrosion
Chapter19
Condensate
System
Corrosion
Chapter20
Fireside
Preboiler
Systems
Chapter21
Boiler
Fireside
Depositand

Themechanismofmostdeaeratorcrackinghasbeenidentifiedasenvironmentallyassistedfatiguecracking.Althoughtheexactcausesarenot
known,stepscanbetakentominimizethepotentialforcracking(e.g.,stressrelievingofweldsandminimizationofthermalandmechanical
stressduringoperation).Inaddition,waterchemistryshouldbedesignedtominimizecorrosion.
FEEDWATERLINEEROSION
Highvelocitywaterandespeciallywater/steammixturescauseerosioninfeedwatersystems.Themostcommonlyencounterederosion
problemsoccuratthehairpinbendsinsteamingeconomizers.Here,themixtureofsteamandwaterthinstheelbows,leavingacharacteristic
reversehorseshoeimprint.
Similarproblemscanbeencounteredinfeedwaterlineswherehighvelocitiescreatethefamiliarthinningpattern.Theseproblemscanoccur
evenatmoderateaverageflowvelocitieswhenasequenceofbendscausesasignificantincreaseinlocalvelocity.
Inordertomitigateerosionproblems,itishelpfultomaintainwaterchemistryconditionsthatformthemosttenaciousoxidelayer.However,
theproblemscannotbecompletelyresolvedwithoutdesignoroperationalchanges.
ECONOMIZERTUBES
Watertubeeconomizersareoftensubjecttotheseriousdamageofoxygenpitting(seeFigure141).Themostseveredamageoccursatthe
economizerinletand,whenpresent,atthetubeweldseams.Whereeconomizersareinstalled,effectivedeaeratingheateroperationis
absolutelyessential.Theapplicationofafastactingoxygenscavenger,suchascatalyzedsodiumsulfite,alsohelpsprotectthisvitalpartofthe
boiler.
Whileoxygenpittingisthemostcommonformofwatersidecorrosionthatcauseseconomizertubefailures,causticsodahasoccasionally
accumulatedunderdepositsandcausedcausticgouging.Usually,thistypeofattackdevelopsinanareaofaneconomizerwheresteam
generationistakingplacebeneathadepositandfreecausticsodaispresentinthefeedwater.Thebestsolutiontothisproblemisimproved
treatmentthatwilleliminatethedeposition.
Othercommoncausesofeconomizerfailureincludefatiguecrackingattherolledtubeendsandfiresidecorrosioncausedbythecondensation
ofacidfromtheboilerfluegas.
FAILURESDUETOOVERHEATING
Whentubefailuresoccurduetooverheatingandplasticflow(conditionscommonlyassociatedwithdeposits),thecauseisusuallyidentifiedby
thedepositswhichremain,asshowninFigure142.Anaccurateanalysisofthedepositsindicatesthesourceoftheproblemandthesteps
neededforcorrection.Metallographicanalysesareuseful,attimes,inconfirmingwhetherashortorlongtermexposuretooverheating
conditionsexistedpriortofailure.Suchanalysesarehelpfulalsowhenmetalqualityormanufacturingdefectsaresuspected,althoughthese
factorsaresignificantonlyinisolatedinstances.
Whentubefailuresoccurduetooverheating,acarefulexaminationofthefailedtubesectionrevealswhetherthefailureisduetorapid
escalationintubewalltemperatureoralongterm,gradualbuildupofdeposit.Whenconditionscausearapidelevationinmetaltemperatureto

https://www.gewater.com/handbook/boiler_water_systems/ch_14_systemfailure.jsp

1/7

10/6/2016

Corrosion
Control
Chapter22
Coilend
Deposition
and
Corrosion
Control
ContactUs

BoilerSystemFailures|GEWater

1600Forabove,plasticflowconditionsarereachedandaviolentruptureoccurs.Rupturescharacterizedbythin,sharpedgesareidentifiedas
"thinlipped"bursts(seeFigure143).
Violentburstsofthethinlippedvarietyoccurwhenwatercirculationinthetubeisinterruptedbyblockageorbycirculationfailurecausedby
lowwaterlevels.Insomesteamdrumdesigns,waterlevelisextremelycriticalbecausethebafflingmayisolateageneratingsectionofthe
boilerwhenthesteamdrumwaterlevelfallsbelowacertainpoint.
Thinlippedburstsalsooccurinsuperheatertubeswhensteamflowisinsufficient,whendepositsrestrictflow,orwhentubesareblockedby
waterduetoarapidfiringrateduringboilerstartup.
Interruptionsinflowdonotalwaysresultinrapidfailure.Dependingonthemetaltemperaturereached,thetubecanbedamagedbycorrosive
orthinningmechanismsoveralongperiodoftimebeforebulgesorblistersoroutrightfailuresdevelop.Insuchinstances,ametallurgical
examinationinadditiontoanexaminationofthecontributingmechanicalfactorscanbehelpfulinidentifyingthesourceoftheproblem.
Alongtermscalingconditionwhichwillleadtoatubeleakisusuallyindicatedbyawrinkled,bulgedexternalsurfaceandafinalthicklipped
fissureoropening.Thisappearanceisindicativeoflongtermcreepfailurecreatedbyrepetitivescaleformation,causingoverheatingand
swellingofthetubesurfaceintheformofabulgeorblister.Thescale,insuchinstances,tendstocrackoffwatercontactsthemetalandcools
ituntilfurtherscalingrepeatstheprocess.Theironoxidecoatingontheexternalsurfacecracksduringtheprocess,givingrisetothe
characteristiclongitudinalcreepcracks.
FAILURESDUETOCORROSION
StressCorrosionCracking
Variouscorrosionmechanismscontributetoboilertubefailure.Stresscorrosionmayresultineitherintercrystallineortransgranularcracking
ofcarbonsteel.Itiscausedbyacombinationofmetalstressandthepresenceofacorrosive.Ametallurgicalexaminationofthefailedareais
requiredtoconfirmthespecifictypeofcracking.Oncethisisdetermined,propercorrectiveactioncanbetaken.
CausticEmbrittlement
Causticembrittlement,aspecificformofstresscorrosion,resultsintheintercrystallinecrackingofsteel.Intercrystallinecrackingresultsonly
whenallofthefollowingarepresent:specificconditionsofstress,amechanismforconcentrationsuchasleakage,andfreeNaOHintheboiler
water.Therefore,boilertubesusuallyfailfromcausticembrittlementatpointswheretubesarerolledintosheets,drums,orheaders.
Thepossibilityofembrittlementmaynotbeignoredevenwhentheboilerisofanallweldeddesign.Crackedweldsortubeendleakagecan
providethemechanismbywhichdrummetalmaybeadverselyaffected.Whenfreecausticispresent,embrittlementispossible.
Anembrittlementdetectormaybeusedtodeterminewhetherornotaboilerwaterhasembrittlingtendencies.Thedevice,illustratedinFigure
144,wasdevelopedbytheUnitedStatesBureauofMines.Ifboilerwaterpossessesembrittlingcharacteristics,stepsmustbetakentoprotect
theboilerfromembrittlementrelatedfailure.
Sodiumnitrateisthestandardtreatmentforinhibitingembrittlementinboilersoperatingatlowpressures.Theratiosofsodiumnitrateto
sodiumhydroxideintheboilerwaterrecommendedbytheBureauofMinesdependontheboileroperatingpressure.Theseratiosareas
follows:

Pressure,psi

NaNO3/NaOHRatio

Upto250

0.20

Upto400

0.25

Upto1000

0.400.50

Theformulaforcalculatingthesodiumnitrate/sodiumhydroxideratiointheboilerwateris:

NaNO3

ppmnitrate(asNO3)
=

NaOH

ppmMalkalinityppmphosphate
(asCaCO3)(asPO43)

Atpressuresabove900psig,coordinatedphosphate/pHcontrolistheusualinternaltreatment.Whenproperlyadministered,thistreatment
methodprecludesthedevelopmentofhighconcentrationsofcaustic,eliminatingthepotentialforcausticembrittlement.
FatigueandCorrosionFatigue
Transgranularcrackingprimarilyduetocyclicstressisthemostcommonformofcrackingencounteredinindustrialboilers.Inorderto
determinethecauseofatransgranularfailure,itisnecessarytostudyboththedesignandtheoperatingconditionsoftheboiler.Straighttube,
https://www.gewater.com/handbook/boiler_water_systems/ch_14_systemfailure.jsp

2/7

10/6/2016

BoilerSystemFailures|GEWater

shellandtubewasteheatboilersfrequentlydeveloptubeandtubesheetfailuresduetotheimpositionofunequalstresses.Aprimarycauseof
thisistheunevendistributionofhotgasesacrossthefaceofthetubesheet.Thetubesinvolvedtendtocomeloose,creatingleakageproblems.
Evenwhenthetubesaresecurelywelded,imposedstressescancausetransversecrackingofthetubes.
Anydesignfeaturethatallowssteampocketstoformwithinaunitcancausecyclicoverheatingandquenching.Thiscanleadtotransverse
crackingoftubesand,occasionally,shells.Suchcrackingalwaysappearsintheareaofgreateststressandresultsincracksthatareprimarily
transgranular.
SomeintercrystallinecrackingmaydevelopinthistypeoffailurewhetherornotfreeNaOHispresent.However,thepredominanttypeof
crackingisacrossthegrainstructureofthemetal.Becauseitismechanicallyinduced,thecrackingoccursirrespectiveofboilerwaterchemical
concentrations.Thecracksareoftenaccompaniedbyanumberofpitsadjacenttoorinlinewiththecrackinganotherspecificindicatorofthe
mechanicalstressesimposed.Anycorrosivespresentcontributetotheformationofthepits.Thenormalreactionbetweenironandwateris
sufficienttocausepittingatbreaksinthethinoxidefilmformedonfreshlyexposedsurfacesunderstress.
StressInducedCorrosion
Certainportionsoftheboilercanbeverysusceptibletocorrosionasaresultofstressfrommechanicalforcesappliedduringthemanufacturing
andfabricationprocesses.Damageiscommonlyvisibleinstressedcomponents,suchasrolledtubeends,threadedbolts,andcyclone
separators.However,corrosioncanalsooccuratweldattachmentsthroughouttheboiler(seeFigure145)andcanremainundetecteduntil
failureoccurs.Regularinspectionforevidenceofcorrosion,particularlyinthewindboxareaofKraftrecoveryboilers,isrecommended
becauseofthepotentialforanexplosioncausedbyatubeleak.
Thepotentialforstressinducedcorrosioncanbereducedifthefollowingfactorsareminimized:stressesdevelopedintheboilercomponents,
thenumberofthermalcycles,andthenumberofboilerchemicalcleanings.Inaddition,itisnecessarytomaintainproperwaterchemistry
controlduringoperationandtoprovideprotectionfromcorrosionduringshutdowns.
DissolvedOxygen
Dissolvedoxygencorrosionisaconstantthreattofeedwaterheater,economizer,andboilertubeintegrity.Asdepositcontroltreatmentmethods
haveimproved,theneedforeffectivecontrolofoxygenhasbecomeincreasinglyimportant.
Thefirstseriousemphasisonoxygencontrolbeganwhenphosphatebasedtreatmentswereintroducedtoreplacethesodaashtreatments
commonbeforethattime.Thedense,hardcalciumcarbonatescalewhichdevelopedwiththesodaashtreatmentsprotectedtubesanddrums
fromseriousoxygencorrosion.Withtheapplicationofphosphatetreatment,thetubeanddrumsurfaceswerecleaner.Therefore,moreofthe
surfaceareawasexposedtocorrosivesinthewater.Thisspurredtheuseofimprovedopenfeedwaterheaterstoremovemostoftheoxygen
priortotheentranceofwaterintotheboiler.Today,mostplantsareequippedwithefficientlyoperateddeaeratingheaters.Theuseofoxygen
scavengers,suchascatalyzedsodiumsulfite,hydrazine,andorganicscavengers,isalsostandardpractice.
Theuseofchelanttreatmentsanddemineralizedwaterhasimprovedthecleanlinessofboilerheattransfersurfacestosuchanextentthat
essentiallybaremetalconditionsarecommon.Onlyathin,protective,magneticoxidefilmremainsinsuchinstances.Asaresult,oxygen
controlhasbecomeevenmoreessentialtoday.Theuseofcatalyzedsulfite,whereapplicable,isastandardrecommendationinchelant
applications.
Thecontrolofdowntimecorrosionhasbecomeincreasinglyimportantinrecentyearstopreventorinhibitpittingfailures.Often,coldwater
thathasnotbeendeaeratedisusedforrapidcoolingorstartupofaboiler.Thisisariskyoperatingpractice,usuallychosenforeconomical
reasons.Severepittingcanoccurinsuchinstances,especiallyinboilersthathavebeenmaintainedinadepositfreecondition.Therefore,itis
usuallymoreeconomicaltomaintaincleanheattransfersurfacesandeliminatetheuseofcoldwatercontainingdissolvedoxygenduringcool
downandstartupperiods.Thispracticecanresultinfuelsavingsandimprovedboilerreliability.
ChelantCorrosion
Duringtheearlyyearsofchelantuse,nearlyallinternalboilercorrosionproblemswerelabeled"chelantcorrosion."However,othercorrosives
suchasoxygen,carbondioxide,caustic,acid,copperplating,andwaterarestillcommoncausesofboilercorrosion.Inaddition,mechanical
conditionsleadingtocausticembrittlement,filmboiling,andsteamblanketingareevenmoreprevalenttodaythanever,asaresultof
increasingheattransferratesandthemorecompactdesignofsteamgenerators.Chelantcorrosion,orchelantattack,hassomespecific
characteristics,anddevelopsonlyundercertainconditions.
Chelantcorrosionofboilermetaloccursonlywhenexcessconcentrationofthesodiumsaltismaintainedoveraperiodoftime.Theattackisof
adissolvingorthinningtypenotpittingandisconcentratedinareasofstresswithintheboiler.Itcausesthinningofrolledtubeends,threaded
members,baffleedges,andsimilarpartsofstressed,unrelievedareas.Normally,annealedtubesanddrumsurfacesarenotattacked.Whentube
thinningoccursinachelanttreatedboiler,evidenceofsteamblanketingand/orfilmboilingissometimespresent.Insuchinstances,failure
occursregardlessofthetypeofinternaltreatmentused.
Pittingisoftenthoughttobearesultofchelantattack.However,pittingofcarbonsteelboilertubesisalmostalwaysduetothepresenceof
uncontrolledoxygenoracid.Infrequently,copperplating(usuallytheresultofanimproperacidcleaningoperation)mayleadtopitting
problems.
CausticAttack
Causticattack(orcausticcorrosion),asdifferentiatedfromcausticembrittlement,isencounteredinboilerswithdemineralizedwaterandmost
oftenoccursinphosphatetreatedboilerswheretubedepositsform,particularlyathighheatinputorpoorcirculationareas.Depositsofa
porousnatureallowboilerwatertopermeatethedeposits,causingacontinuousbuildupofboilerwatersolidsbetweenthemetalandthe
deposits.
Becausecausticsodadoesnotcrystallizeundersuchcircumstances,causticconcentrationinthetrappedliquidcanreach10,000ppmormore.
Complexcausticferriticcompoundsareformedwhenthecausticdissolvestheprotectivefilmofmagneticoxide.Waterincontactwithiron
attemptstorestoretheprotectivefilmofmagnetite(Fe3O4).Aslongasthehighcausticconcentrationsremain,thisdestructiveprocesscauses
acontinuouslossofmetal.

https://www.gewater.com/handbook/boiler_water_systems/ch_14_systemfailure.jsp

3/7

10/6/2016

BoilerSystemFailures|GEWater

Thethinningcausedbycausticattackassumesirregularpatternsandisoftenreferredtoascausticgouging(seeFigure146).Whendeposits
areremovedfromthetubesurfaceduringexamination,thecharacteristicgougesareveryevident,alongwiththewhitesaltsdepositwhich
usuallyoutlinestheedgesoftheoriginaldepositionarea.Thewhitishdepositissodiumcarbonate,theresidueofcausticsodareactingwith
carbondioxideintheair.
Inspectionsofboilerswithcausticattackoftenshowexcessiveaccumulationsofmagneticoxideinlowflowareasofdrumsandheaders.This
iscausedbytheflakingoff,duringoperation,ofdepositsunderwhichthecomplexcausticferriticmaterialhasformed.Whencontactedand
dilutedbyboilerwater,thisunstablecompleximmediatelyrevertstofreecausticandmagneticoxide.Thesuspendedandreleasedmagnetic
oxidemovestoandaccumulatesinlowfloworhighheatfluxareasoftheboiler.
Whilecausticattackissometimesreferredtoascausticpitting,theattackphysicallyappearsasirregulargougingorthinningandshouldnotbe
confusedwiththeconcentrated,localizedpitpenetrationrepresentativeofoxygenoracidattack.
SteamBlanketing
Anumberofconditionspermitstratifiedflowofsteamandwaterinagiventube,whichusuallyoccursinalowheatinputzoneoftheboiler.
Thisproblemisinfluencedbytheangleoftheaffectedtubes,alongwiththeactualloadmaintainedontheboiler.Stratificationoccurswhen,
foranyreason,velocityisnotsufficienttomaintainturbulenceorthoroughmixingofwaterandsteamduringpassagethroughthetubes.
Stratificationmostcommonlyoccursinslopedtubes(Figure147)locatedawayfromtheradiantheatzoneoftheboiler,whereheatinputis
lowandpositivecirculationinthetubesmaybelacking.
Examinationoftheaffectedtubesusuallyrevealsaprominentwaterlinewithgeneralthinninginthetopareaofthetubeorcrown.Inrare
instances,thebottomofthetubeisthinned.Whentheboilerwatercontainscaustic,highconcentrationsaccumulateandleadtocaustic
corrosionandgougingunderthedepositsthataccumulateatthewaterline.
Incertaininstances,stratificationmayoccurtogetherwithinputofheattothetoporcrownofthetube.Thiscreatesahighdegreeofsuperheat
inthesteamblanket.Directreactionofsteamwiththehotsteeldevelopsifthemetaltemperaturereaches750Forhigher.Corrosionofthe
steelwillproceedundersuchcircumstanceswhetherornotcausticispresent.Whenthereisdoubtabouttheexactcause,ametallographic
analysiswillshowifabnormaltemperatureexcursionscontributedtotheproblem.Depositsusuallyfoundundersuchcircumstancesare
composedprimarilyofmagneticironoxide(Fe3O4).Hydrogenisalsoformedasaresultofthereactionandisreleasedwiththesteam.
Asomewhatunusualproblemrelatedtocirculationandheatinputproblemshasbeenencounteredinrooftubes.Thesetubesareusually
designedtopickupheatonthebottomsideonly.Problemsgenerallydevelopwhenthetubessagorbreakawayfromtheroof,causing
exposureoftheentiresurfaceofthetubetothehotgases.Theoverheatingthatusuallydevelops,alongwiththeinternalpressure,causesa
gradualenlargementofthetube,sometimesquiteuniformly.Failureoccurswhentheexpandedtubecannolongerwithstandthecombined
effectsofthethermalstressandinternalpressure.
Superheatertubesoftenshowthesameswellingorenlargementeffect.Insuchinstances,steamflowhasbeenrestrictedforsomereason,
leadingtooverheatingandeventuallytofailure.
AcidicAttack
Acidattackofboilertubesanddrumsisusuallyintheformofgeneralthinningofallsurfaces.Thisresultsinavisuallyirregularsurface
appearance,asshowninFigure148.Smoothsurfacesappearatareasofflowwheretheattackhasbeenintensified.Insevereoccurrences,
othercomponents,suchasbaffling,nutsandbolts,andotherstressedareas,maybebadlydamagedordestroyed,leavingnodoubtastothe
sourceoftheproblem.
Severeinstancesofacidattackcanusuallybetracedtoeitheranunsatisfactoryacidcleaningoperationorprocesscontamination.Some
industrialplantsencounterperiodicreturnedcondensatecontamination,whicheliminatesboilerwateralkalinity.Occasionally,regeneration
acidfromanionexchangeprocessisdischargedaccidentallyintotheboilerfeedwatersystem.Coolingwatercontaminationofcondensatecan
depressboilerwaterpHandcauseseveredepositionandpittinginareasofhighheatflux.Damagecanbequitesevereifimmediatestepsare
nottakentoneutralizetheacid.
Inthecaseofindustrialprocesscontamination,itispossiblefororganiccontaminantstodecomposeunderboilertemperatureandpressureto
formorganicacids.Sugarisanexcellentexampleofanorganicwhich,whenreturnedinalargequantity,cancauserapidlossofboilerwater
alkalinityandreducepHoftheboilerwaterto4.3andlower.Mostsugarrefiningplantsmaintainstandbypumpingsystems,toaddcaustic
sodatoneutralizetheseacidsasquicklyaspossible.
CorrosionDuetoCopper
Pittingofboilerdrumsandtubebankshasbeenencounteredduetometalliccopperdeposits,formedduringacidcleaningprocedureswhichdo
notcompletelycompensatefortheamountofcopperoxidesintheoriginaldeposits.Dissolvedcoppermaybeplatedoutonfreshlycleaned
steelsurfaces,eventuallyestablishinganodiccorrosionareasandformingpitsverysimilarinformandappearancetothosecausedbyoxygen.
Insuchinstances,metalliccopperplatingisquiteevident.Inmostcases,itislocalizedincertaintubebanks,givingrisetorandompittingin
thoseparticularareas.Wheneverdepositsarefoundcontaininglargequantitiesofcopperoritsoxide,specialprecautionsarerequiredto
preventtheplatingoutofcopperduringcleaningoperations.
Copperdepositsandtemperaturesover1600Fcancauseliquidmetalembrittlement.Weldrepairofatubecontainingcopperdepositsleadsto
thefailureshowninFigure149.
HydrogenAttackorEmbrittlement
Sincearound1960,hydrogenattack,orembrittlement,hasbeenencounteredwithincreasingfrequencyinhighpressure,highpuritysystems.
Itisnotencounteredintheaverageindustrialplantbecausetheproblemusuallyoccursonlyinunitsoperatingatpressuresof1500psigor
higher.
Insystemsofthistype,thealkalinityoftheboilerwaterismaintainedatvaluesthatarequitelowcomparedtousualstandardsforlower
pressureoperation.Attheoperatingpressuresindicatedandwaterconditionsimposed,eithercoordinatedpH/phosphateortotalvolatile
https://www.gewater.com/handbook/boiler_water_systems/ch_14_systemfailure.jsp

4/7

10/6/2016

BoilerSystemFailures|GEWater

programsareused.Becausetheboilerwaterisrelativelyunbuffered,totalvolatileprogramsaremoreaffectedbycontaminantsthatmaylower
boilerwateralkalinityorpH.
WhencontaminantslowertheboilerwaterpHsufficiently,theacidattackofthesteelgenerateshydrogen.Ifthisoccursunderhard,adherent,
nonporoustubedeposits,thehydrogenpressurewithinthedepositcanbuilduptothepointatwhichthehydrogenpenetratesthesteeltubing.
Whenatomichydrogenpermeatesthemetalstructure,itreactswiththecarboncontenttoformmethane.Becausethemethanemoleculeistoo
largetodiffusethroughthesteel,excessivepressuredevelopswithinthemetalstructure,causingthemetaltorupturealongthecrystalline
boundarieswheremethanehasformed.Thecrackingthatdevelopsisprimarilyintercrystallineorintergranularinnature,themetallicarea
affectedbecomingdecarburizedintheprocess.Failureoccurswhentherupturedsectioncannolongerwithstandtheinternalpressure.
Rupturesareviolentandsudden,andcanbedisastrous(seeFigure1410).Failedsectionsoftubingarecrackedintheintergranularmodeand
decarburized,butusuallyretaintheoriginaldimensionsorthicknessofthetubingmaterial.
AlthoughtherearemanycausesoflowboilerwaterpH,itmostfrequentlyoccurswhenbrackishwaterisusedforcondensercooling.Small
quantitiesofmagnesiumchloride,inparticular,havecausedextremelylowpHexcursions,requiringveryclosesupervisionanddetectionof
verylowlevelsofcontaminationinthecondensate.
Tosummarize,hydrogenembrittlementoccursonlywhenahard,densescaleispresentonthetubesurfaces,permittinghydrogento
concentrateunderthedepositandpermeatethemetal.AcidiccontaminationorlowpHexcursionscommonlyproducetheconditionsfor
generationofhydrogen.Thistypeofattackmaydevelopveryquicklytherefore,constantsurveillanceofcondensatepurityisrequired.
Asindicated,hydrogenembrittlementusuallyoccursinhighpuritysystemsthatoperateat1500psigorhigher.Althoughitissometimes
confusedwithintergranularcreepcracking,thistypeoffailurecanbepositivelyidentifiedbythedistinctiveintergranularnatureofthe
crackinganddecarburizedconditionofthemetal.
Surveysofunitsoperatingatthesepressuresandundertheseconditionshavegenerallyindicatedthattheapplicationofacoordinated
pH/phosphatecontrolwilllessenthepossibilityofhydrogenembrittlement.Thisisdueprimarilytotheimprovedbufferingoftheboilerwater
withphosphatepresent.
SuperheaterTubes
Superheatertubefailuresarecausedbyanumberofconditions,bothmechanicalandchemical.Inanyinstanceofsuperheatertubefailure,
analysisofthedepositsfoundisanimportantfactorinsolvingtheproblem.Magneticoxidedepositsatthepointoffailureareadirect
indicationofoxidationofthetubemetal(seeFigure1411).Thisoxidationoccursduringoverheatingwheremetaltemperaturesexceedthe
designtemperatureandthesteelentersintoadirectreactionwiththesteamtoformmagneticironoxidewithhydrogenrelease.Whenthe
depositsfoundintheareaoffailureareprimarilyironoxide,itmaybenecessarytoexploreanumberofoperatingconditionsinorderto
determinetheinitialcause.
Oxidationmayoccuriftheflowofsteamthroughthetubesisrestrictedoriftheheatinputisexcessive,permittingoverheating.Inthecaseof
insufficientsteamflow,therestrictionmaybeduetoconditionsprevalentduringthetransitionperiodsofboilerstartuporshutdown.This
occursifadequateprecautionshavenotbeentakentoprotectthesuperheaterduringthetransitionperiods.Atnotimeshouldgastemperatures
exceed900Fintheareaofthesuperheateruntiltheboilerisuptooperatingpressureandallsuperheatertubesareclearofanywaterwhich
mayhaveaccumulatedduringthedowntime.Overheatingconditionsmaydevelopduringtimesoflowloadoperationwhenadequate
distributionofsaturatedsteamacrossthetubebankattheinletheaderhasnotbeenachieved.
Solublesaltdepositsmayformatasuperheatertubeinletasaresultofexcessiveentrainmentofboilerwatersolidswiththesteam.Thiscan
resultinrestrictedflow.However,overheatinganddirectoxidationfailuresmayoccurinareasdistinctlyremovedfromtheblockage,suchas
thebottomloopsorthehottestareasofthesuperheatertubes.
Insomecases,thereisaverycleardelineationbetweenoxidationproductsinthehotareaandsolublesaltsdepositsattheinlet.However,in
mostoccurrences,ahighpercentageofsodiumsaltdepositsisfoundinthehotareasalongwiththeoxidationproducts.Thereislittledoubtin
suchinstancesthatboilerwatercarryoverhascontributedtotheproblem.
Periodicoverheatingofsuperheaters,causedbyinsufficientcontroloffireboxtemperaturesduringstartupandshutdownperiods,usually
resultsinthicklippedfissuresandblisteringwithalltheevidenceofcreepfailure.Asinthecaseofwatertubes,asuperheatertubewillfail
rapidly(oftenviolently)whenflowisblockedforashortperiodoftimeandtubetemperatureescalatesrapidlytoplasticflowtemperatures.
Determinationofwhetherafailureisduetoalongorshorttermsituationdependsessentiallyonthesamegeneralcharacteristicsthatapplyto
watertubeexamination.
Oxygenpittingofsuperheatertubes,particularlyinthependantlooparea,israthercommonandoccursduringdowntime.Itiscausedbythe
exposureofwaterintheseareastooxygenintheair.
Itisessentialthatthemanufacturer'sinstructionsbefollowedrigidlytopreventoverheatingproblemsduringstartuporshutdownandto
preventoxygencorrosionduringdowntime.
Whensolublesaltsdepositsarefoundinsuperheatertubes,steampurityisofparamountconcern.IthasbeentheexperienceofBetz
Laboratories,afterconductingthousandsofsteampuritystudiesovermanyyears,thatsolublesaltsdepositsinsuperheaterscanbeexpected,
withattendantproblems,wheneversteamsolidsexceed300ppb.Therefore,whensolublesaltsdepositsarefound,athoroughinvestigationof
steampurity(andreasonsforpoorpurity)isnecessary.
BoilerDesignProblems
Certainbasicdesignflawscancontributetotubefailures.Problemswhichoccurasaresultofadesignflawmaybeintensifiedbytheboiler
waterchemistry.Theboilerwateroftencontainselementsthatbecomecorrosivewhenconcentratedfarbeyondnormalvaluesasaresultof
designproblems.
Manyindustrialboilers,forexample,aretreatedinsuchamannerthatlowconcentrationsofcausticsodaarepresentintheboilerwater.The
causticcanbecomecorrosivetosteelwhentheboilerwaterisallowedtoconcentratetoabnormallyhighvaluesasaresultofpoordesign.Even
intheabsenceofcaustic,conditionswhichpermitstratificationorsteamblanketingandlocalizedelevationofmetaltemperaturesinexcessof
750Fallowdirectoxidationorcorrosionofthesteelincontactwithwaterorsteam.Thiscauseslossofmetalandeventualruptureofthetube.
https://www.gewater.com/handbook/boiler_water_systems/ch_14_systemfailure.jsp

5/7

10/6/2016

BoilerSystemFailures|GEWater

Rooftubes,nosearchtubes,andconvectionpasstubeswithslopesoflessthan30degreesfromthehorizontalaremoresubjecttodeposition
andstratificationproblemsandtubefailuresthanverticaltubes.Wheneverchelantispresentinboilerwater,thesodiumsaltsof
ethylenediaminetetraaceticacid(EDTA),inparticular,aredestroyedathightemperature,leavingaresidueofcausticsoda.Thecausticsoda
residuefromthechelantisusuallyaninsignificantadditivetowhatevercausticmaybepresentnormally.
Afrequentcontributortowasteheatboilerproblemsistheunevendistributionofgasesacrosstheinlettubesatthehotend.Thiscauses
unequalstressesanddistortionandleadstomechanicalstressandfatigueproblems.
Theuseofhorizontalhairpintubeconfigurationswithinadequateforcedcirculationofwaterthroughthetubesoftenpermitsstratificationof
steamandwater.Thisoftenleadstosteamblanketingorcausticcorrosionproblems.
ProceduresforBoilerTubeFailureAnalysis
Attimes,thecauseofafailurecannotbereadilydetermined,makingitdifficulttodeterminetheappropriatecorrectiveaction.Adetailed
examinationofthefailureandassociatedoperatingdataisusuallyhelpfulinidentifyingthemechanismoffailuresothatcorrectiveactionmay
betaken.
Properinvestigativeproceduresareneededforaccuratemetallurgicalanalysesofboilertubes.Dependingonthespecificcase,macroscopic
examinationcombinedwithchemicalanalysisandmicroscopicanalysisofthemetalmaybeneededtoassesstheprimaryfailure
mechanism(s).Whenafailedtubesectionisremovedfromaboiler,caremustbetakentopreventcontaminationofdepositsanddamagetothe
failedzones.Also,thetubeshouldbeproperlylabeledwithitslocationandorientation.
Thefirststepinthelabinvestigationisathoroughvisualexamination.Boththefiresideandthewatersidesurfacesshouldbeinspectedfor
failureorindicationsofimminentfailure.Photographicdocumentationoftheasreceivedconditionoftubingcanbeusedinthecorrelationand
interpretationofdataobtainedduringtheinvestigation.Particularattentionshouldbepaidtocolorandtextureofdeposits,fracturesurface
locationandmorphology,andmetalsurfacecontour.Astereomicroscopeallowsdetailedexaminationunderlowpowermagnification.
Dimensionalanalysisofafailedtubeisimportant.Calipersandpointmicrometersarevaluabletoolsthatallowquantitativeassessmentof
failurecharacteristicssuchasbulging,wallthinningatarupturelip,andcorrosiondamage.Theextentofductileexpansionand/oroxide
formationcanprovidecluestowarddeterminingtheprimaryfailuremechanism.Externalwallthinningfromfiresideerosionorcorrosion
mechanismscanresultintuberuptureswhichoftenmimictheappearanceofoverheatingdamage.Inthosecases,dimensionalanalysisof
adjacentareascanhelptodeterminewhetherornotsignificantexternalwallthinningoccurredpriortofailure.Aphotographofatubecross
sectiontakenimmediatelyadjacenttoafailuresitecanassistindimensionalanalysisandprovideclearcutdocumentation.
Theextent,orientation,andfrequencyoftubesurfacecrackingcanbehelpfulinpinpointingafailuremechanism.Whileoverheatingdamage
typicallycauseslongitudinalcracks,fatiguedamagecommonlyresultsincracksthatruntransversetothetubeaxis.Inparticular,zones
adjacenttoweldedsupportsshouldbeexaminedcloselyforcracks.Nondestructivetesting(e.g.,magneticparticleordyepenetrantinspection)
maybenecessarytoidentifyandassesstheextentofcracking.
Whenproperwaterchemistryguidelinesaremaintained,thewatersidesurfacesofboilertubesarecoatedwithathinprotectivelayerofblack
magnetite.Excessivewatersidedepositioncanleadtohigherthandesignmetaltemperaturesandeventualtubefailure.Quantitativeanalysisof
theinternaltubesurfacecommonlyinvolvesdeterminationofthedepositweightdensity(DWD)valueanddepositthickness.Interpretationof
thesevaluescandefinetheroleofinternaldepositsinafailuremechanism.DWDvaluesarealsousedtodeterminewhetherornotchemical
cleaningofboilertubingisrequired.Inaddition,thetubesurfacemaybethoroughlycleanedbymeansofglassbeadblastingduringDWD
testing.Thisfacilitatesaccurateassessmentofwatersideorfiresidecorrosiondamage(e.g.,pitting,gouging)thatmaybehiddenbydeposits.
Thepresenceofunusualdepositionpatternsonawatersidesurfacecanbeanindicationthatnonoptimalcirculationpatternsexistinaboiler
tube.Forexample,longitudinaltrackingofdepositsinahorizontalrooftubemayindicatesteamblanketingconditions.Steamblanketing,
whichresultswhenconditionspermitstratifiedflowofsteamandwaterinagiventube,canleadtoacceleratedcorrosiondamage(e.g.,wall
thinningand/orgouging)andtubefailure.
Whenexcessiveinternaldepositsarepresentinatube,accuratechemicalanalysescanbeusedtodeterminethesourceoftheproblemandthe
stepsnecessaryforcorrection.Wheneverpossible,itisadvisabletocollecta"bulk"composition,byscrapingandcrimpingthetubeand
collectingacrosssectionofthedepositforchemicalanalysis.Typically,alossonignition(LOI)valueisalsodeterminedforthewaterside
deposit.TheLOIvalue,whichrepresentstheweightlossobtainedafterthedepositisheatedinafurnace,canbeusedtodiagnose
contaminationofthewatersidedepositbyorganicmaterial.
Inmanycases,chemicalanalysisofadepositfromaspecificareaisdesired.Scanningelectronmicroscopeenergydispersivespectroscopy
(SEMEDS)isaversatiletechniquethatallowsinorganicchemicalanalysisonamicroscopicscale.SEMEDSanalysesareshowninFigures
1412and1413.Forexample,SEMEDScanbeusefulinthefollowingdeterminations:
differencesindepositcompositionbetweencorrodedandnoncorrodedareasonatubesurface
theextenttowhichunderdepositconcentrationofboilersaltsonheattransfersurfacesispromotingcorrosiondamage
elementaldifferencesbetweenvisuallydifferenttubesurfacedeposits
InorganicanalysesthroughSEMEDScanalsobeperformedongroundandpolishedcrosssectionsofatubecoveredwiththicklayersof
watersidedeposit.Thistestingiscalledelementalmappingandisparticularlyvaluablewhenthedepositsaremultilayered.Similartothe
examinationofringsonatree,crosssectionalanalysisofboilerdepositscanidentifyperiodswhentherehavebeenupsetsinwaterchemistry,
andtherebyprovidesdatatohelpdetermineexactlyhowandwhendepositsformed.Withelementalmapping,thespatialdistributionof
elementsinadepositcrosssectionisrepresentedbycolorcodeddotmaps.Separateelementsofinterestcanberepresentedbyindividual
maps,orselectedcombinationsofelementscanberepresentedoncompositemaps.
Ascanningelectronmicroscope(SEM)canalsobeutilizedtoanalyzethetopographyofsurfacedepositsand/ormorphologyoffracture
surfaces.Fractographyisparticularlyhelpfulinclassifyingafailuremode.Forexample,microscopicfeaturesofafracturesurfacecanreveal
whetherthesteelfailedinabrittleorductilemanner,whethercrackspropagatedthroughgrainsoralonggrainboundaries,andwhetherornot
fatigue(cyclicstress)wastheprimarycauseoffailure.Inaddition,SEMEDStestingcanbeusedtoidentifytheinvolvementofaspecificion
orcompoundinafailuremechanism,throughacombinationoffracturesurfaceanalysisandchemicalanalysis.
Mostwaterbearingtubesusedinboilerconstructionarefabricatedfromlowcarbonsteel.However,steambearing(superheaterandreheater)
tubesarecommonlyfabricatedfromlowalloysteelcontainingdifferinglevelsofchromiumandmolybdenum.Chromiumandmolybdenum
https://www.gewater.com/handbook/boiler_water_systems/ch_14_systemfailure.jsp

6/7

10/6/2016

BoilerSystemFailures|GEWater

increasetheoxidationandcreepresistanceofthesteel.Foraccurateassessmentofmetaloverheating,itisimportanttohaveaportionofthe
tubeanalyzedforalloychemistry.Alloyanalysiscanalsoconfirmthatthetubingiswithinspecifications.Inisolatedinstances,initial
installationofthewrongalloytypeortuberepairsusingthewronggradeofsteelcanoccur.Inthesecases,chemicalanalysisofthesteelcanbe
usedtodeterminethecauseofprematurefailure.
Attimes,itisnecessarytoestimatethemechanicalpropertiesofboilercomponents.Mostoften,thisinvolveshardnessmeasurement,which
canbeusedtoestimatethetensilestrengthofthesteel.Thisisparticularlyusefulindocumentingthedeteriorationofmechanicalproperties
thatoccursduringmetaloverheating.Usually,aRockwellhardnesstesterisusedhowever,itissometimesadvantageoustousea
microhardnesstester.Forexample,microhardnessmeasurementscanbeusedtoobtainahardnessprofileacrossaweldedzonetoassessthe
potentialforbrittlecrackingintheheataffectedzoneofaweld.
Microstructuralanalysisofametalcomponentisprobablythemostimportanttoolinconductingafailureanalysisinvestigation.Thistesting,
calledmetallography,isusefulindeterminingthefollowing:
whetheratubefailedfromshorttermorlongtermoverheatingdamage
whethercracksinitiatedonawatersideorfiresidesurface
whethercrackswerecausedbycreepdamage,corrosionfatigue,orstresscorrosioncracking(SCC)
whethertubefailureresultedfromhydrogendamageorinternalcorrosiongouging
Propersampleorientationandpreparationarecriticalaspectsofmicrostructuralanalysis.Theorientationofthesectioningisdeterminedbythe
specificfailurecharacteristicsofthecase.Aftercarefulselection,metalspecimensarecutwithapowerhacksaworanabrasivecutoffwheel
andmountedinamoldwithresinorplastic.Aftermounting,thesamplesaresubjectedtoaseriesofgrindingandpolishingsteps.Thegoalis
toobtainaflat,scratchfreesurfaceofmetalinthezoneofinterest.Afterprocessing,asuitableetchantisappliedtothepolishedmetalsurface
torevealmicrostructuralconstituents(grainboundaries,distributionandmorphologyofironcarbides,etc.)
Metallographicanalysisofthemounted,polished,andetchedsectionsofmetalisperformedwithareflectiveopticalmicroscope(Figure14
14).Thisisfollowedbyacomparisonofmicrostructuresobservedinvariousareasofatubesectionforexample,theheatedsideversusthe
unheatedsideofawaterwalltube.Becausethemicrostructureontheunheatedsideoftenreflectstheasmanufacturedconditionofthesteel,
comparisonwiththemicrostructureinafailedregioncanprovidevaluableinsightintothedegreeandextentoflocalizeddeterioration(Figure
1415).
Previous

TableofContents

(Chapter13BoilerBlowdownControl)

Next
(Chapter15ChemicalCleaningOfSteam
GeneratorSystems)

Water&ProcessTechnologiesHome|Industries|Solutions|Products|AboutUs|SiteMap
GECorporate|GEEnergy|ContactUs|PrivacyPolicy|AccessibilityStatement|Terms&Conditions|Library
CopyrightGeneralElectricCompany19972012
*TrademarkofGeneralElectricCompanymayberegisteredinoneormorecountries.

https://www.gewater.com/handbook/boiler_water_systems/ch_14_systemfailure.jsp

7/7