A Comparison Of The Reheat Cracking Susceptibility Of A Service Exposed High Temperature Alloy Steel With That Of New Material

Loots, R.
Organization: The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 6
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2004
High temperature creep resistant alloys are used in power plants as steam pipes and headers where they have to withstand super heated steam temperatures of up to 600ºC for the lifetime of the plant. Frequently certain portions of pipes may be subjected to excessive temperatures and consequently suffer from creep damage. Damaged portions then have to be replaced by welding new steel to the service exposed steel. Such welds will have to be subjected to a post weld heat treatment (PWHT) to relieve residual stress. During such a PWHT it is then possible for the steel to crack in the heat affected zone (HAZ) by what is known as Reheat Cracking (RHC), also known as stress relief cracking. For the present purpose the RHC susceptibility of service exposed steel was compared with that of new steel by reproducing the temperature cycle to which the HAZ will be subjected during welding in a weld simulator. This was followed by PWHT where the influence of residual stress was studied by applying a constant stress to such a weld-simulated specimen in a creep testing machine. A sharp spiral was machined along the length of the cylindrical specimen to simulate the presence of a possible weld defect. In this way it is possible to subject all portions of the simulated HAZ to the same stress intensity. For the purpose of the investigation 1/2Cr-1/2Mo-1/4V steel known to be susceptible to RHC was chosen. During testing a constant tensile stress was maintained while the temperature was increased to follow the thermal cycle prescribed for PWHT. It was found that the new steel in all instances failed by RHC along the grain boundaries in the high temperature heat affected zone. In the case of the service exposed steel the creep strength of parent metal was lower than that of new steel as a result of exposure to a steam temperature of 540°C for about 15 years. Consequently, all of the failures during testing occurred in a ductile manner by necking outside the HAZ rather than by RHC. When service exposed steel is welded to new material, it is expected that the creep strain associated with stress relaxation will mostly be concentrated in the parent steel outside the HAZ. Accordingly, it should probably not be necessary to make any extra allowance for reheat cracking during repair of steam pipes manufactured from 1/2Cr-1/2Mo-1/4V steel other than that applicable for welding new steel.
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