November 2011

Maintenance/Heat Transfer

Investigation: Failure of a steam generator

In case history, engineers search for root cause of water-side tube failures for a 23-year-old boiler

This case history investigated the water-wall tube failure of a boiler (steam generator) that had been in service. At this stage of the boiler’s life cycle, this steam generator was experiencing several leaks. The failed tubes were examined to uncover the root cause of the tubes’ bulging and leaks. The investigation results revealed that a 1-mm thick deposit in the inner surface of the water-wall tubes was the root cause for the tube failures. Analytical methods such as x-ray fluorescence (XRF) and x-ray diffraction (XRD) scanning electron microscope (SEM)/elemental analysis (EDX) uncovered that the scale contained elements typical of boiler feedwater (BFW) side composition a

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