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Root Cause Failure Analysis (RCA) for

Methanol Reformer Tubes


AMCO-SC-1007
INTRODUCTION
As a result of the cracking found by NDT, AMCO was requested to perform RCA and life assessment to be performed
for pigtails to determine the root cause of these cracks and to estimate the remaining life of the pigtails.
The pigtails operate under high temperature conditions of 850-900C and are made of the iron-nickel-chromium alloy
800HT.

TESTING
Visual examination was performed in order to assess any obvious issues with the condition of the material sample
and to select representative locations for more detailed investigation.
Longitudinal metallographic sections of the tube samples were prepared.
Each of the metallographic sections were polished and etched using Kallings No.2 solution. In the service-exposed
samples, this revealed the weld material (the lighter-etching areas, )which ran circumferentially at the external
surface

Close-up image of the inside condition of the tubes

Visuals of the outer surface of the tube samples

Weld Toe and surrounding HAZ area


Section

Hardness, HV10
Base Metal

Cracked
A3
Uncracked
A4
Cracked
B1
Uncracked
B3

HAZ

Weld Metal

124

123

120

122

181

180

136

132

157

149

188

185

120

119

129

126

184

191

124

123

138

128

197

197

Hardness values

Microstructure showing cracks

Tube sample

0.2% Proof
Strength

Tensile
Strength

% Elong.

Cracked A1
Cracked A4
New B5

(N/mm2)
262
260
260

(N/mm2)
535
553
595

54.5
42.0
51.5

170 min.

450 min.

30 min.

ASTM A240
alloy 800HT
(UNS N08811)

Tensile strength Values

Multiple cracks were identified in the base material,


Brief Discussion
particularly in the HAZ both immediately adjacent
to the weld toe (surface penetrating) and at midThe root cause of the cracking was Stress
wall sites.
Relaxation Cracking (SRC), as indicated by the
The root cause of cracking appears to be Stress
location and morphology of the observed cracking
Relaxation Cracking (similar to reheat cracking) with adjacent precipitate denuded zones, and the
as indicated by the location and morphology of the presence of grain boundary secondary carbide
cracks with adjacent precipitate denuded zones in
precipitation. SRC is a type of reheat cracking that
the HAZ.
occurs due to service exposure at elevated
AMCO understands that a Ni-base INCONEL filler temperatures. Alloy 800HT is known to suffer from
metal was used in original fabrication of the cracked this type of damage.
fillet weldments. This filler metal has a slightly
lower expansion coefficient than Alloy 800H(T) SRC occurs at lower temperatures and longer times
this difference in thermal expansion will increase
due to elevated temperature service, via a similar
the residual stress level, compared to a joint made
mechanism
to
reheat
(stress
relief)
cracking.
using a weld filler metal of matching composition
The recognisable fracture is typically ductile
Intergranular mode, along migrated grain
boundaries, within the weld metal, or HAZ of
susceptible steels.

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