Case Histories » Pulp and Paper

Chloride Stress Corrosion Cracking

Extensive cracking in a 1.25-in tube
View of the cracking on the outer surface of the tubing – there was approximately 10 – 12 cracks per linear inch.
Chloride stress corrosion cracking of Type 316 stainless steel
Metallographic cross-section through the tubing wall revealed the presence of fine, branched stress corrosion cracks.

Specimen

1.25-in. OD tubing.

Material

Type 316L stainless steel, bright solution annealed.

Environment

The tubes were from a liquor heat exchanger in a pulp and paper mill.

Background

The tubes were from an upper liquor heat exchanger that operated at 200 psi and approximately 375°F (190°C) with steam on the outside and liquor on the inside of the tubes. Periodically, the tubing in the heat exchanger was acid cleaned by recirculating inhibited acid – usually hydrochloric acid (HCl).

Service Life

Approximately three months

Findings

Examination of the exterior surface of the tuning revealed the presence of approximately 10 – 12 cracks per linear inch. A metallographic examination of a cross-section transverse to the cracking in the tube wall revealed the presence of branched stress corrosion cracking that had initiated on the exterior of the tubing. The tubing had not been stress-relieved to remove residual stresses from the straightening process. Thus, the residual stresses present in the tubes and the presence of chlorides from the hydrochloric acid cleaning provided optimum conditions for the stress corrosion cracking of the Type 316L stainless steel tubing.