Failure analysis of superheater tube supports of the primary reformer in a fertilizer factory
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A failure analysis of superheater tube supports of the primary reformer in a local fertilizer factory is presented. A number of tube supports failed at approximately half of their designed service life. Following the failure, the factory was visited, and relevant information and samples were collected. The samples were investigated in the laboratory by chemical analysis, macro- and microhardness measurements, macro-and micrometallographic examinations, and X-ray diffractometry. The analysis showed the supports were fabricated from HH-type heat-resisting alloy and that the failure mode was high-temperature creep. The microstructure of the alloy showed the presence of massive intergranular as well as intragranular σ-phase and intragranular needle-shaped M23C6 carbides. It was also concluded from the formation of massive σ-phase in the tube that the failure was hastened because the supports were operating at approximately 800 °C. The alloy composition led to the formation of σ-phase under the operating conditions of the reformer, and the use of an alloy with a higher concentration of austenite-stabilizing element(s) could have avoided the failure.
Keywordscreep failure analysis reformer tube support σ-phase
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