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DAVID N. FRENCH, INC.

, METALLURGISTS
ONE LANCASTER ROAD
NORTHBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS 01532
TEL: (508) 393-3635

SUMMER 1996 VOL. XIII, No. 2

A VIEW FROM THE PENTHOUSE: USEFUL INFORMATION FOR THE WORLD OF BOILERS

CORROSION FATIGUE
Corrosion fatigue, sometimes compression along the membranes. In
called stress-enhanced or stress- the wind box, the preheater
assisted corrosion, describes that combustion air may expand the
water-side condition that leads to support steel faster than the
steam leaks due to localized waterwalls and stretch the tubes
cracking in the regions of high parallel to the membranes.
stress. The cracks are a series of Regardless of the temperature
connected pits that in cross section differentials, an applied strain is
are suggestive of oxygen attack. generated within the furnace.
The problem occurs in water-wetted Figure 2 presents an example of
tubes in both waterwalls and longitudinal cracking on the ID
economizers at attachments, e.g., about 9 0 " apart, indicative of both
buck-stay clips, on the colder side a push and a pull along the
of the tube. A view from the ID membranes.
surface coincides with the
attachment, as the cracks are
limited to the area of the OD weld.
On occasion the damage is a series
of concentric rings of cracks that
outline the attachment weld on the
outside. More typically, the damage
is axial cracks. Figure 1 is one
such example.

Figure 2
A cross section through a
corrosion-fatigue crack shows a
wide, irregular, bulbous form, or
shape, to the crack surfaces; the
crack tip is often blunt or rounded,
see for example Figure 3.
Figure 1
Depending on the precise state of
stress, the confluence of several
attachments at the circular cross
section may be the site for several
concentrated regions of cracking.
Start-up conditions consist of a
hot waterwall and a relatively cool
support structure. The cooler buck-
stays prevent thermal expansion of
the tubes, which leads to a Figure 3
The non-uniformity to the sides of roughened surface but no localized
the crack suggest several episodes deep pitting or cracks, as shown for
of corrosion occurred even after the example in Figure 4 from an
crack was well established. Such economizer tube. While stresses are
cracks may be widened during a necessary, the important variable is
chemical cleaning. A rash of leaks the oxygen concentration in the
may be found after cleaning, as the water. Corrosion fatigue is a
removal of oxide or corrosion debris better description than stress-
has removed the "plugw. Cracks of enhanced or stress-assisted
this morphology are more common in corrosion.
cycling units.
-

The examination of the water-side


surfaces throughout the boiler would
indicate a roughened, pitted
condition that is usually associated
with oxygen corrosion. Thus the two
conditions required are 1) oxygen
concentrations within the boiler
water that are in excess of the
water-chemistry control guidelines,
and 2) a region of higher-than-
normal stress. The hiqhly stressed
regions create the anode of a
corrosion cell, and the corrosion Figure 4
occurs more rapidly than in the
surrounding area. Corrosion fatigue occurs in those
This form of corrosion fatigue regions of water-touched or steam-
has sometimes been called stress- generating tubes where there is the
enhanced or stress-assisted highest local stress, often at the
corrosion. However, the most likely water side of buck-stay attachment
scenario in an operating system is clips, or membrane welds surrounding
that the unit comes on line before openings from burner or wind-box
the oxygen concentration in the attachments.
boiler water is stabilized within While the term fatigue usually is
the control range. The thermal- associated with a variable stress,
expansion stresses of the start-up in this case the stress may be quite
and the oxygen within the boiler uniform; but the corrosive
water lead to the formation of these environment, that is, the oxygen
localized regions of preferential levels within the boiler water, are
corrosion. Once the oxygen the variable. The most severe
concentrations reach the proper damage occurs during start-up when
level, the corrosion stops until the the oxygen concentration is not
next cycle. In those portions of under proper control. The
the boiler where the stress is not phenomenon is also most severe in
excessive or is quite uniform, the those boilers that are subject to
oxygen corrosion leads to a frequent start-ups.

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