October 2004


Case 23: Analyzing a crack-like defect in a vessel wall

You should know what needs to be done but not necessarily how to do it

Sofronas, A., Consulting Engineer

W?hen a two-in.-long, 0.2-in.-deep crack was noticed along a vertical weld in a post-weld heat-treated (PWHT) hydrotested vessel with 0.5-in. wall thickness, plant management wanted to know if the vessel could continue to operate until a prescheduled downtime. A growing crack in a brittle material is a concern, and a risk analysis must be performed immediately or the unit shut down. When a crack reaches its critical length, it often runs along a weld so rapidly that there's no time to monitor the growth. Naturally, the risk one might be willing to take with a water tank in the middle of a prairie differs from that applied to a hydrocarbon-containing vessel at 300 lb/in.2 inside a plant.

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