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03/06/2015

HighPressureBoilersLongTermOverheatingTubeFailures

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HowLongTermOverheatingTubeFailuresHappenin

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Boilers

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writtenby:DrVTSathyanathaneditedby:LamarStonecypherupdated:3/8/2011
Longtermoverheatingtubefailuresareduetooperatingmetaltemperatureoftheboilertubesgoingabovethe
allowablelimit.Thesetypesoffailureareseeninsteamcooledtubeslikesuperheatersandreheatersandinwater
cooledtubesofwaterwalls.
Boilersusedforindustrialsteamgenerationandpower
generationhavekilometersoftubesthatcarrywaterand
steamincirculationsystemandsuperheaters,respectively.
Thesetubesareofvarioussizesandthicknesses
dependinguponthepressureandthemidwallmetal
temperature.Thetubesselectedareboilerqualitytubes
manufacturedundervariousstandardslikeASME,BS,DIN,
JIS,etc.Whileselectingthetubethereisarequirementto
selectthecorrectmaterialforwithstandingthemetal
temperature.Thiswilldependuponthelocationwherethe
heattransfersurfaceislocated.Normallythewatercooled
areaslikeeconomizerandwaterwallsaremadeofcarbon
steelofboilerquality.Superheatersandreheaterswill
havecombinationoflowalloytubestostainlesssteeltubes
selectedtowithstandthemetaltemperature.
Midwallmetaltemperature
Whenheatistransferredfromtheburningfuelorhotgasesbyradiationorconvection,theoutsidetubetemperatureis
veryhightheheatisthentransferredtothemediuminsidethetubewhichiswaterorsteam.Thereisatemperature
gradientthatexitsfromtheoutermostlayerofthetubetotheinnermostlayerofthetube.Thetemperatureatthemiddle
ofthetubethicknessiscalledthemidwallmetaltemperature.Thewaterwallsintheboilerfurnacefacethehighest
temperature,namelytheflametemperature,andsincethewaterflowingthoughthetubeissodesignedtocarrytheheat
awayandthecoolthetubebypropercirculation,themidwalltemperatureismaintainedwithinallowablelimitofthe
material.Themidwallmetaltemperaturecanbeaccuratelydetermined,howevertherearemanyrulesofthumbusedby
theoperatingengineers.Inthewaterwallareathemetaltemperaturewillbesaturationtemperatureofwateratthedrum
operatingpressureplus30degreecentigrade.Inthesuperheaterareaitissteamtemperatureinsidethetubeatthe

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03/06/2015

HighPressureBoilersLongTermOverheatingTubeFailures

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Overheatingoftubesinboiler
Whenthemidwallmetaltemperatureexceedstheallowablemetaltemperatureofthetubematerial,overheatingsetsin.
Thiscanhappenduetomanyreasonslikeinternaldeposit,lowflowthoughthetubeduetopartialchokingofthetube
internaldiameter,duetosuddenloadraise,duetosuddenfuelinput,etc.Whenthemetaltemperatureofthetube
exceedstheallowablelimitthematerialstrengthreducesdrastically,dependinguponthematerialcomposition.
Longtermoverheatingofthetubehappensoveraperiodoftime,asthetubesaresubjectedtotemperatureswhichare
notsohightocauseinstantaneousbulgingofthetubetoafailurepoint.Duringthisperiodoflongtermoverheatingthe
tubeoutersurfacedevelopsbulging,creepingelongatefissuresalongtheaxisofthetube.Therewillbelittleornowall
thicknessreductioninthenonblisteredarea.Thesearethetypicalidentifiablesignsoflongtermoverheating.These
failuresarealsocalledashightemperaturecreepfailures.(Pleaseseethephotosbelow.)Areasinboilerspronefor
longtermoverheatingWaterwallsandsuperheatersaremorepronetolongtermoverheating.Waterwallsnormally,due
tointernaldepositsandpartialchokingofthetubeinternally,aresubjectedtolongtermoverheating.Superheatersare
subjectedtolongtermoverheatingoverandabovethesaidtworeasonsduetohighdesuperheating,higherradiant
heatfluxesintheregion,andlowergradematerialattransitionpoints.Reheatersarealsoproneforlongterm
overheating,butnotsomuchlikesuperheaters.Howtoavoidlongtermoverheatingfailureinboilers
Operatingtheboilerwithinthespecifiedrangeofparametersandregimecanalmosteliminatethistypeoffailurein
boilers
Flushingthetubestoensureanyblockagesareremoved
Keepingthewaterqualityattherecommendedlevel
Makingsuredruminternallyaresetandmaintainedproperly
Ensuringtherightmaterialtransitionpoint,highergradematerialinthelowertemperatureportionofthetubefor
somelengthcantakecareofoperationalvariation.
Ensuringtherightqualitymaterialselectionduringdesignstage.

LongtermoverheatedtubesFailed&internaldepositblockingtubeflowarea

RelatedReading
UnderstandingTubeFailuresinHighPressureBoilersBoilertubefailuresareinevitable.Therearetwentytwoprimary
reasonsfortubefailuresinaboiler.Itistruethatbeingforewarnedisbeingforearmed.Knowledgeandgoodoperating
andmaintenancepracticereducetubefailures.
MechanismsofSteamSootBlowerErosionTherearemanymechanismsthatcancausesteamsootblowererosionof

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03/06/2015

HighPressureBoilersLongTermOverheatingTubeFailures
boilertubesatvariousheattransfersections.Knowingthewaythesemechanismscontributetoerosionwillhelpto
preventlossofavailabilityofboiler.
CausesofHighTemperatureCorrosioninBoilersHightemperaturecorrosionoccurinboilersoccursmainlyintwo
areaswaterwallsandsuperheaters.Theinorganicimpuritiesinfuellikevanadium,sodium,sulphur,etc.,are
responsible.Readontolearnmoreabouthowthishappens.

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