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Boiler Tube Leakage

Analysis Of Maithan Power


Limited

1
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

I would like to thank all the competent authority at


Maithan Power Limited, without whose help this
vocational training would not ever have happened. I
would like to give our special thanks to Mr. Arnab
Paul, Mr. Anirban Pal and Mr. Tapas Mahato who
guided me throughout this training and gave their
significant contribution in the making of this project.
I would like to thank the Head of OPERATION, Head
of Mechanical Maintenance and the Human
Resource Department for their guidance and
support. They made it possible in every way for me to
understand the PROCESS FLOW OF THE THERMAL
POWER PLANT. They have given a lot of time from
their busy schedule. I would also thank all the Senior
Managers for making my learning process easy and
referring to suitable person.
I give my sincere thanks to all the personnel at
Maithan Power Limited for all their teaching, cooperation and help. A special vote of thanks to Mr.
Arnab Paul, who chose such a wonderful project for
me to work upon and assisted in every possible way for
its successful completion.
I would also like to thank the authority of National
Power Training Institute(ER), Durgapur for
arranging this vocational training .

Table of Contents
Types of Tube Failures 3
Boiler Chemistry 9
Condensate and Feedwater Parameters and Treatment
Cycle
12
The Metallurgy of Power
Boilers..
14
Acoustic Sound Level Detection
18
Boiler Tube Leakage incidents at Maithan and their Analysis
.22

Report of failure on 14th December, 2011


22
LTSH failure report on 4th may, 2012
24
Boiler operation to minimize tube leakages
.26
Boiler Startup/Shutdown
..27

4
TYPES OF TUBE FAILURES

CAUSTIC ATTACK
SYMPTOMS: Localized wall loss on the inside diameter (ID) surface of the tube,
resulting in increased stress and strain in the tube wall.
CAUSES: Concentration of caustic can occur as a result of steam blanketing
(layer of steam between the tube ID and the boiler water), which allow salts to
concentrate on metal surface (due to quick vaporisation on the metal surface at
point of localized overheating thus leaving behind conc. caustic solution) which
causes the dissolution of the protective magnetite layer causing loss of the base
metal and eventual failure. The metal must be stressed and a least trace of silica
must be present. Caustic attack can be controlled by the phosphate/pH control
method. Phosphate buffers the boiler water, reducing the chance of large pH
changes due to the formation of caustic.
Na2HPO4 + NaOH

Na3PO4 + H2O

OXYGEN PITTING
SYMPTOMS: Aggressive localized corrosion and loss of tube wall, most
prevalent near economizer feedwater inlet on operating boilers. Flooded or nondrainable surfaces are most susceptible during outage periods.
CAUSES: Oxygen pitting occurs with the presence of excessive oxygen in boiler
water. It can occur during operation as a result of in-leakage of air at pumps, or
failure in operation of preboiler water treatment equipment. This also may occur
during extended out-of-service periods, such as outages and storage, if proper
procedures are not followed in lay-up. Non-drainable locations of boiler circuits,
such as superheater loops, sagging horizontal superheater and reheater tubes,
and supply lines, are especially susceptible. More generalized oxidation of tubes
during idle periods is sometimes referred to as out-of-service corrosion. Wetted
surfaces are subject to oxidation as the water reacts with the iron to form iron
oxide. When corrosive ash is present, moisture on tube surfaces from
condensation or water washing can react with elements in the ash to form acids
that lead to a much more aggressive attack on metal surfaces.

HYDROGEN DAMAGE
SYMPTOMS: Intergranular micro-cracking. Loss of ductility or embrittlement of
the tube material leading to brittle catastrophic rupture.
CAUSES: in high pressure boilers, contaminants due to the condenser leakages
can lower the pH to a significant amount so that the acid reacts with the steels
producing hydrogen. This occurs under hard, porous, adherent deposits. The
hydrogen pressure at these points can build up to such high levels that the
hydrogen penetrates the metal tubing. This hydrogen reacts with the carbon
present in the steel to form methane. Methane being larger in size cannot
penetrate the metal and soon the pressure build up gets too high, causing the

5
metal to rupture along the grain boundaries where methane has formed. The
cracking that is formed is primarily intercrystalline or intergranular and
decarburization occurs at the point of rupture.

ACID ATTACK
SYMPTOMS: Corrosive attack of the internal tube metal surfaces, resulting in an
irregular pitted or, in extreme cases, a Swiss cheese appearance of the tube
ID.
CAUSES: Acid attack most commonly is associated with poor control of process
during boiler chemical cleanings and/or inadequate post-cleaning passivation of
residual acid.

STRESS CORROSION CRACKING (SCC)


SYMPTOMS: Failures from SCC are characterized by a thick wall, brittle-type
crack. May be found at locations of higher external stresses, such as near
attachments.
CAUSES: SCC most commonly is associated with austenitic (stainless steel)
superheater materials and can lead to either transgranular or intergranular crack
propagation in the tube wall. It occurs where a combination of high-tensile
stresses and a corrosive fluid are present. Cold deformation, welding, heat
treatment, machining and grinding can induce residual stresses. These residual
stresses can approach the yield stress of the material. The damage results from
cracks that propagate from the ID. The source of corrosive fluid may be carryover
into the superheater from the steam drum or from contamination during boiler
acid cleaning if the superheater is not properly protected.

WATERSIDE CORROSION FATIGUE


SYMPTOMS: ID initiated, wide transgranular cracks which typically occur
adjacent to external attachments.
CAUSES: Tube damage occurs due to the combination of thermal fatigue and
corrosion. Corrosion fatigue is influenced by boiler design, water chemistry,boiler
water oxygen content and boiler operation. A combination of these effects leads
to the breakdown of the protective magnetite on the ID surface of the boiler
tube. The loss of this protective scale exposes tube to corrosion.
The locations of attachments and external weldments, such as buckstay
attachments, seal plates and scallop bars, are most susceptible. The problem is
most likely to progress during boiler start-up cycles.

SUPERHEATER FIRESIDE ASH CORROSION


SYMPTOMS: External tube wall loss and increasing tube strain. Tubes commonly
have a pock-marked appearance when scale and corrosion products are
removed.

6
CAUSES: Fireside ash corrosion is a function of the ash characteristics of the fuel
and boiler design. It usually is associated with coal firing, but also can occur for
certain types of oil firing. Ash characteristics are considered in the boiler design
when establishing the size, geometry and materials
used in the boiler. Combustion gas and metal temperatures in the convection
passes are important considerations. Damage occurs when certain coal ash
constituents remain in a molten state on the superheater tube surfaces. This
molten ash can be highly corrosive.

WATERWALL FIRESIDE CORROSION


SYMPTOMS: External tube metal loss (wastage) leading to thinning and
increasing tube strain.
CAUSES: Corrosion occurs on external surfaces of waterwall tubes when the
combustion process produces a reducing atmosphere (substoichiometric). This is
common in the lower furnace of process recovery boilers in the pulp and paper
industry. For conventional fossil fuel boilers, corrosion in the burner zone usually
is associated with coal firing. Boilers having maladjusted burners or operating
with staged air zones to control combustion can be more susceptible to larger
local regions possessing a reducing atmosphere, resulting in increased corrosion
rates.

FIRESIDE CORROSION FATIGUE


SYMPTOMS: Tubes develop a series of cracks that initiate on the outside
diameter (OD) surface and propagate into the tube wall. Since the damage
develops over longer periods, tube surfaces tend to develop appearances
described as elephant hide, alligator hide or craze cracking. Most commonly
seen as a series of circumferential cracks. Usually found on furnace wall tubes of
coal-fired once through boiler designs, but also has occurred on tubes in drumtype boilers.
CAUSES: Damage initiation and propagation result from corrosion in
combination with thermal fatigue. Tube OD surfaces experience thermal fatigue
stress cycles which can occur from normal shedding of slag, sootblowing or from
cyclic operation of the boiler. Thermal cycling, in addition to subjecting the
material to cyclic stress, can initiate cracking of the less elastic external tube
scales and expose the tube base material to repeated corrosion.

SHORT-TERM OVERHEAT
SYMPTOMS: Failure results in a ductile rupture of the tube metal and is
normally characterized by the classic fish mouth opening in the tube where the
fracture surface is a thin edge.
CAUSES: Short-term overheat failures are most common during boiler start up.
Failures result when the tube metal temperature is extremely elevated from a
lack of cooling steam or water flow. A typical example is when superheater tubes
have not cleared of condensation during boiler start-up, obstructing steam flow.

7
Tube metal temperatures reach combustion gas temperatures of 1600F or
greater which lead to tube failure.

LONG-TERM OVERHEAT
SYMPTOMS: The failed tube has minimal swelling and a longitudinal split that is
narrow when compared to short-term overheat. Tube metal often has heavy
external scale build-up and secondary cracking.
CAUSES: Long-term overheat occurs over a period of months or years.
Superheater and reheat superheater tubes commonly fail after many years of
service, as a result of creep. During normal operation, alloy superheater tubes
will experience increasing temperature and strain over the life of the tube until
the creep life is expended. Furnace water wall tubes also can fail from long-term
overheat. In the case of water wall tubes, the tube temperature increases
abnormally, most commonly from waterside problems such as deposits, scale or
restricted flow. In the case of either superheater or water wall tubes, eventual
failure is by creep rupture.

GRAPHITIZATION
SYMPTOMS: Failure is brittle with a thick edge fracture.
CAUSES: Long-term operation at relatively high metal temperatures can result in
damage in carbon steels of higher carbon content, or carbon-molybdenum steel,
and result in a unique degradation of the material in a manner referred to as
graphitization. These materials, if exposed to excessive temperature, will
experience dissolution of the iron carbide in the steel and formation of graphite
nodules, resulting in a loss of strength and eventual failure.

DISSIMILAR METAL WELD (DMW) FAILURE


SYMPTOMS: Failure is preceded by little or no warning of tube degradation.
Material fails at the ferritic side of the weld, along the weld fusion line. A failure
tends to be catastrophic in that the entire tube will fail across the circumference
of the tube section.
CAUSES: DMW describes the butt weld where an autenitic (stainless steel)
material joins a ferritic alloy, such as SA213T22, material. Failures at DMW
locations occur on the ferritic side of the butt weld. These failures are attributed
to several factors: high stresses at the austenitic to ferritic interface
due to differences in expansion properties of the two materials, excessive
external loading stresses and thermal cycling, and creep of the ferritic material.
As a consequence, failures are a function of operating temperatures and unit
design.

EROSION
SYMPTOMS: Tube experiences metal loss from the OD of the tube. Damage will
be oriented on the impact side of the tube. Ultimate failure results from rupture
due to increasing strain as tube material erodes away.

8
CAUSES: Erosion of tube surfaces occurs from impingement on the external
surfaces. The erosion medium can be any abrasive in the combustion gas flow
stream, but most commonly is associated with impingement of fly ash or soot
blowing steam. In cases where soot blower steam is the primary cause, the
erosion may be accompanied by thermal fatigue.

MECHANICAL FATIGUE
SYMPTOMS: Damage most often results in an OD initiated crack. Tends to be
localized to the area of high stress or constraint.
CAUSES: Fatigue is the result of cyclical stresses in the component. Distinct from
thermal fatigue effects, mechanical fatigue damage is associated with externally
applied stresses. Stresses may be associated with vibration due to flue gas flow
or sootblowers (high-frequency low-amplitude stresses),
or they may be associated with boiler cycling (low-frequency high-amplitude
stress mechanism). Fatigue failure most often occurs at areas of constraint, such
as tube penetrations, welds, attachments or supports.

Caustic attack at the


backing ring

Oxygen pitting on the


tube ID

Brittle filure due to


Hydrogen Damage

Pitted appearence of inner


tube due to Acid attack

SEM photo of Stress


corrosion cracking

Erosion on tube OD

Types of Tube Leakages


Mechanical
Fatigue failure
at an attachment

10

Corrosion fatigue on
the tube ID adjacent to
attachment

Craze cracking of outer


surface

View of the tube failure


at OD (creep failure

Sectional photo of tube


that had serious wall
loss due to fireside ash
corrosion

Transverse view of
surface crack

Surface appearence of
tube showing fireside
ash corrosion on ID

Thin edged 'fish mouth'


rupture

Photomicrograph
showing graphitization

DMW failure where the


ferritic material has
completely left the weld

11
BOILER CHEMISTRY
It is very important to maintain proper feed water quality for the trouble
free operation of the steam boilers and turbines. The feed water required
for the High Pressure boiler parts should be demineralized to meet the
stringent quality standards of the operating fluid. Without proper water
quality it is not possible to obtain the optimal quality of steam for
operations of superheaters and reheater tubes and turbines. Also, it may
lead to deposits and corrosion in the boiler tubes and failures.
In spite of the demineralization process, the tubes may become deposited
over a long period of operation and proper cleaning process has to be
carried out whose frequency is determined by the cleanliness of the boiler
and operational requirements. The cleaning has to be carried out in such a
way that the integrity of the tube is maintained. During shutdown
processes, the boiler tubes have to be properly laid up, so that the tubes
does not get damaged by oxidation. The lay-up is done by keeping the
tubes filled with treated water and nitrogen blanketing.

PARAMETERS TO BE MAINTAINED
IONIZED SALTS: The ionized salts have to be removed for the elimination
of boiler tube scaling, turbine blade fouling and corrosion. The
demineralization plant deals with this problem to a considerable extent by
removing of the ionizing salts.
DISSOLVED OXYGEN: Dissolved oxygen must be reduced to about 10-20
ppb at the economizer inlet to prevent the oxidation of the HP
components. Generally, the deaerator considerably reduced the oxygen
content to about 10 ppb. Hydrazine is added for further scavenging of the
dissolved oxygen. Further the hydrazine forms a protective layer on the
magnetite layer of the tube ID thus protecting it from erosion by fluid
drag.
SILICA: Demineralizers can reduce silica conc. to about 20 ppb. Silica
conc. has to be maintained according to the working pressure as the
amount of dissolved silica in the saturated steam increases with the
operating pressure. Silica carryover to the turbine blading is abrasive and
deposits are difficult to remove. Further silica can react with calcium and
aluminium salts in boiler water to form hard scales which are detrimental
to heat transfer properties of the tube material.

12
During the initial commissioning of the boiler, it is likely to get high silica
content. This silica has to be brought into control by proper blowdown. The
pressure should not be raised until the silica conc. has been brought to the
specified limits. If proper boil out operations have been carried out, the
silica levels is brought down to the specified limits within some days of
operations. During normal operation, the main source of silica
contamination is condenser leakages and demineralizers. The specified
limits for operation at specified pressures is shown below to minimize the
carryover of silica to 20 ppb:

13
OTHER SALTS : The intent of providing phosphate in the boiler water is to
provide conditions conducive to the precipitation of calcium and
magnesium salts as Calcium Hydroxyapalite 3Ca 3(PO4)2Ca(OH)2 and
Serpenline 3MgO 2SiO2.2H2O. The addition of Phosphate is also done in a
co-ordinated Phosphate-pH method as stated below to maintain the pH of
the system as alkaline, absorbing any caustic which in the free form is
harmful to the system causing deposition known as caustic gouging. This
leads to material erosion leading to tube failures.
pH : Demineralized is often called hungry water as it is highly corrosive
in nature. Further a low pH means higher H+ ion conc. which is reactive
with the tube materials (decarburization)
leading to strength loss. Thus an alkaline pH has to be maintained to
avoid this. This is generally done with the help of ammonia dosing. TSP(Tri
sodium phosphate) used for sludge formation in the Drum also has basic
nature and is also judiciously used for maintain an alkaline environment.
The recommended phosphate levels for pH control is shown:

14

CONDENSATE AND FEEDWATER PARAMETERS


AND TREATMENT CYCLE

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15

STANDBY PROTECTION
The boiler tubes are susceptible to atmospheric corrosion during the down
time in the presence of moisture and oxygen. Thus proper laying up of the
boiler becomes an absolute necessity. Keeping the high capacity boiler
absolutely dry is a very difficult task owing to the complex nature of the
construction. The tubes can be dried to a considerable extent by
evacuating at a hot state. But the non drainable portions are not drained.
Thus condensation can take place. Thus in most of the high capacity
boilers, wet lay up is carried out. During the down times, the tubes are
filled with demineralized water dozed with
ppm of ammonia and 200
ppm of Hydrazine. This is further blanketed with a nitrogen gas
environment at about 5 psi(g).

BLOW DOWN
Blow Down must also be conducted on regular basis (When Boiler is in
Low Steaming Stage) from side wall, rear & front wall headers; so that
sludge accumulation in these headers may be avoided; which otherwise
would rise in furnace tubes creating conditions for circulation restrictions/
blockage, thus overheating at local spots.

16

THE METALLURGY OF POWER BOILERS


Steels are alloys of iron and carbon, usually with one or more alloying
elements added to improve some properties of the material (strength,
high-temperature strength, oxidation or corrosion resistance, for
example). By definition, steels contain at least 50% iron. For welded
construction, the ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code limits the carbon
content to less than 0.35%. Thus, virtually all of the materials used in the
construction and repair of pressure parts of boilers fall into this
classification. Some high-temperature, corrosion-resistant alloys of nickel
and chromium with less than 50% iron are not, strictly speaking, steels,
but are still occasionally used. Further, steels are divided into two
subcategories: ferritic steels and austenitic steels, depending on the
arrangement of atoms within the solid.
NOMINAL
COMPOSITION SPECIFICATI GRADE
PRODUCT
(max.%)
ON NO.
DESIGNATI
FORM
ON
C- 0.35, Mn - 0.29-1.06, SA 106
Cr-0.40, Mo-0.15

Carbon steel

SA 210

C-0.5, Mn-0.30-0.61, Mo- SA 335


0.44-0.65,Cr- 0.80-1.25

P12

C-0.05-0.15, Mn-0.30-0.61, SA335


Mo-0.44-0.65, Cr-1.90-2.6

P22

C
steel,
Cr-1.25,
Mo- SA 213
0.5,Mn- 0.30-0.60, Ni- 0.51.0
C steel, Cr-2.25, Mo- 1.05
SA 213

T11

T22

Pipe,
finished
seamless
Tube,
seamless
Pipe,
rolled
seamless
Pipe,
rolled
seamless
Tube,
seamless
Tube,

USEF
UL
TEMP.
Hot 455

455
Hot 435

Hot 580

550

580

17
Austenitic steel, Cr- 17,
SA 213
Ni-9, Columbium &
Tantalum- 1
C steel, Cr-9, Mo-1, V-0.25, SA 213
Mn-0.3-0.6, Ni-0.25-1.0

TP347H

C steel, Cr-9, Mo-1


C steel

P91
------

SA335
SA 299

T91

seamless
Tube,
seamless

Tube,
hot 541
rolled
seamless
Pipe, seamless 420
plates
369

Steels are used in boiler construction because they are inexpensive,


readily available, easily formed and welded to the desired shape and,
within the broad limits, are oxidation- and corrosion-resistant enough to
provide satisfactory service for many years. The table lists the used steels
in the BHEL boiler at MPL, tubing specifications and the maximum
recommended service temperatures.

The maximum useful temperature is determined either by corrosion or


oxidation concerns that limit the useful life before premature failure or
changes within the microstructure occur that weaken the steel too much
for elevated-temperature service.
Based on the crystal lattice, the steels can also be classified as Ferritic or
Austenitic. Ferritic steels are those category of steels which have a Body
Centred Cubic crystal lattice. The Austenite phase (FCC)converts to the
two phases of Ferrite(BCC) and cementite(Hcp) mainly in the pearlitic
phase(Alternate bands of Ferrite and Cementite). The temperature of this
transformation depends upon the composition but is about 727 oC(called
the eutectoid temperature) for a plain-carbon steel similar to the SA178 or
SA210 grades. Austenitic stainless steels are a class of alloys with a facecentered-cubic lattice structure of austenite over the whole temperature
range from room temperature (and below) to the melting point. When
18% chromium and 8% nickel are added, the crystal structure of austenite
remains stable over all temperatures. The nickel-based alloys with 35-70%
nickel and 20-30% chromium, while not strictly steels (a steel must have
at least 50% iron), do have the face-centered-cubic lattice arrangement
and are also called austenitic materials.

EFFECTS OF ALLOYING ELEMENTS ON STEEL


ELEMENT
&
SYMBOL

INFLUENCE
UPON FERRITE

INFLUENCE
UPON
AUSTENITE
(HARDENENABILI
TY)

815

PRINCIPAL FUNCTION
OF THE ELEMENT.

18
Chromium(
Cr)

Hardens slightly;
increased
corrosion resistance

Increases
hardenability
moderately, similar
to manganese

Manganese
(Mn)

Hardens, ductility
somewhat reduced

Similar to Ni

Molybdenu
m
(Mo)

Age-hardening
system in high
Mo-Fe alloys.

Increases
hardenability
strongly

Nickel (N)

Strengthens and
toughens by solid
solution

Increases
hardenability
slightly, austenite
retention with higher
carbon

Vanadium
(V)

Hardens moderately
in solid solutions.

Increases
hardenability very
strongly as dissolved

a. Increases corrosion and


oxidation resistance.
b. Increases hardenability.
c. Increases strength at high
temperature.
d. With high C resists wear
and abrasion.
a. Counteracts effect of
brittleness from
sulphur.
b. Increases hardenability
inexpensively.
c. High Mn. high C produces
steels resistant to
wear and abrasion.
a. Raises grain coarsening
temperature of
austenite.
b. Increases depth of
hardening.
c. Raises hot and creep
strength promotes red
hardness.
d. Enhances corrosion
resistance in stainless
steels.
e. Forms abrasion resistant
particles
a. Strengthens unquenched
or annealed steels.
b. Toughens pearlitic-ferritic
steels (especially
low temperatures).
c. Renders high Cr/Fe alloys
austenitic.
a. Promotes fine grainelevates coarsening
temperature of austenite.
b. Increases hardenability
when dissolved.
c. Resists tempering and
causes marked
secondary hardening

19
Apart from this, other special alloying elements are added for specific
property rendering in the steels. The Austenitic grades having high
chromium content has a tendency to sensitize, that is, form chromium
carbides along the austenite grain boundaries. The formation of these
carbides reduces the chromium content of the austenite grains at the
boundary, and, therefore, reduces the local corrosion resistance along the
grain boundaries.
To prevent sensitization, additions of columbium and tantalum to form 347
were invented. If these alloys are given a second heat treatment, called a
stabilization anneal, at 1600-1650o F after the solution anneal, titanium
carbide or columbium-tantalum carbide will form preferentially to
chromium carbide. With all of the carbon removed as innocuous carbides,
no chromium carbide can form. There is no loss of chromium at the grain
boundaries, and no loss of corrosion resistance, and thus no sensitization.
However, in boiler applications, these grades are not given stabilization
anneal.
One other microstructural constituent will form at elevated temperatures,
and that is a chromium-iron intermetallic called "sigma phase."
Both the sensitization and the formation of sigma phase occur over long
periods at ill-defined temperatures. Both will occur at temperatures
beginning at about l,000oF and will form more rapidly at slightly higher
temperatures. Since the formation of chromium carbide and sigma phase
are governed by the ability of individual atoms to move or diffuse through
the lattice, these atomic movements will occur more rapidly at higher
temperatures. As the temperature is increased above 1200 oF, however,
chromium carbide begins to redissolve in the austenite; thus the rate of
carbide formation and growth decreases. By about 1600 oF, chromium
carbide is completely gone from the microstructure. Sigma phase is
unstable and redissolves above a temperature of about 1600 o F; the exact
temperature depends on the composition.
Unfortunately, from an estimation of operating-temperature perspective,
all of these changes within the microstructure of austenitic stainless steel
occur over a range of temperatures and over a range of times. There are
no discrete temperatures that indicate with any degree of precision the
peak failure or operating temperature. Thus there are only estimates of
operating temperature and not an accurate "calling card" within the
microstructure as there are in the ferritic steels.
The 18 chromium-8 nickel austenitic stainless steels have been used for
several decades in high-temperature applications within a steam
generator. They have excellent high-temperature tensile and creep
strengths and excellent corrosion resistance. The microstructural changes
during long-term operation are more subtle than in the ferritic steels. In

20
addition to this, the ductile-brittle transition temperature for these steels
are at very low temperatures compared to the operating temperatures
and hence recommended.

ACOUSTIC SOUND LEVEL DETECTION


Early detection of steam leakage in a boiler due to tube leakage in steam coils
will avoid secondary damage to great extent. Tube failure in a boiler is
considered to be one of the major reasons for boiler shutdown. This problem is
more pronounced in pulverized coal fired boilers, due to ash erosion and
combustion being vigorous. Tube failures are bound to increase in present day
boilers, where steam generation at high temperatures is attempted to maximize

21
combustion efficiency, outstripping the metallurgical developments. Sonic tube
leak detection system address this issue.

TECHNICAL DISCUSSION
OVERVIEW
As a leak develops in a pressurized system, turbulence created by escaping fluid
generates pressure waves within the contained fluid itself, throughout the low
pressuremedium (usually a gas) into which the fluid is escaping, and within the
container structure. These are commonly referred to as fluid-borne, airborne, and
structure-borne acoustic waves, respectively. To detect leaks, the energy
associated with these mechanical waves can be converted into electrical signals
with a variety of dynamic pressure transducers (sensors) that are in contact with
the medium of interest. Several methods of signal processing are available that
allow the voltages generated by these sensors to be evaluated for the presence
of a leak. As mentioned above, leaks in a pressurized system generate sound
waves in three media. The decision regarding which types of acoustic waves are
most reliably detected is important from both functional and economical
considerations. This decision, in some cases, is not simple. Factors such as
background noise level, sound attenuation within the medium, signal processing
strategy, and installation costs play a role.

FLUID-BORNE LEAK DETECTION


The most well known use of fluid-borne leak detection is in the earlier work on
feedwater heater applications. It
was ultimately found, however, to be inadequate due to widely fluctuating
background noise levels during load
changes. In other applications, this method is rarely used because the sensor
must be in contact with the contained fluid, which requires mounting it through
the wall of the pressurized container.

AIRBORNE LEAK DETECTION


Since 1974, airborne leak detection has been predominantly used in large
commercial boilers. Airborne methods
are well established and have detected leaks as much as a week before any
other means available. In airborne applications, microphones or low frequency
resonant piezoelectric transducers are coupled by hollow waveguides to the
gaseous furnace medium. The waveguides are usually attached through
penetrations in inspection doors, unused sootblower ports, or the casing. The
airborne waveguide, shown in Figure 1, serves three purposes. It couples the
sound waves from the furnace interior to the transducer face, protects the
transducer from excessive heat, and allows easy access to the transducer for
inspection or replacement.

22

STRUCTURE-BORNE LEAK DETECTION


The structure-borne method of leak detection has found applications in valves
and pressurized pipelines. Under a recent Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI)
sponsored project, a high frequency structure-borne approach was found to be
the best method for detecting leaks in feedwater heaters. The structure-borne
technique uses piezoelectric transducers coupled to acoustic emission type
waveguides which are weld-attached as shown in
Figure 2. In this application, a single structure-borne sensor mounted to the
outlet side of the tube sheet will fully cover a high pressure feedwater heater.
Low pressure feedwater heaters require an additional structure-borne sensor
mounted to the inlet side of the tube sheet.

23

BACKGROUND NOISE
In leak detection applications, the most important factor to consider is
background noise within the propagation
medium of interest. Almost all background noise can be characterized as white
noise combined with discrete frequency noise. White noise can be defined as
containing components at all frequencies within a range or band of interest. Both
normal boiler noise and leak noise are considered to be white noise. Boiler noise
is best described as low frequency white noise (rumbling) while leak noise is best
described as higher frequency white noise (hissing). Discrete frequency noise is
usually composed of a fundamental single frequency (tone) and several
associated harmonic frequencies. These sounds are best described as whistling
or humming noises.

SCHEMATIC OF THE ACOUSTIC SOUND LEVEL DETECTION SYSTEM


Sonic tube and sensor assembly -The sensor assembly consists of a sonic
transducer which converts acoustic sound to electrical signal and preamplified in
the preamplifier board housed in the assembly. It also consists of a test sound
source. The whole assembly is mounted on a sonic tube which is mounted at an

24
angle of 45 to the walls of the boiler, 1.5 m away from the wall. It houses the
transducer in a Teflon protective coupling. Purging can be carried out on timely
basis to avoid the deposition of ash and soot particles.

FIELD AMPLIFIER UNIT


The field amplifier unit further amplifies the signal from the sensor and filters the
low frequency combustion noise. The filtered signal is converted into 0-20mA Ac
signal for transmission up to the control room. This also consists of a test signal
push button to quickly check the functioning of the unit.

SENSOR
OUTPUT

AMPLIFIER

FILTER LOW
FREQUENCY
COMBUSTIO
N NOISE

V/I
CONVERTER

0-20 mA AC
OUTPUT

SIGNAL PROCESSOR MODULE


The signal from the Field Amplifier Unit is converted into AC voltage signal and is
passed through a Band Pass Filter whose mid frequency is tuned for
characteristic steam leakage frequency. The band pass filter output is precision
rectified and a dc voltage proportional to the sound level in the required band is
generated. This is converted into decibel in a dB converter circuit. The
background noise is subtracted from the decibel output and the signal above the
background noise is further taken for processing alarm generation.
During soot blower operation, the channels near by will pick up sound from soot
blower steam spray and show sound level in dB. In case, this sound exceeds the
alarm set value for the duration of alarm delay, the contact output will be
initiated, leading to alarm. To avoid this, a ANY SOOT BLOWER ON input is
hardwired in to the logic circuitry, which inhibits any alarm during soot blowing.
Alarm set valuecan be adjusted from 0 40 dB. Recommended set value is 20
dB. Alarm delay range is 1 min(nominal) to 10 min(nominal).

25

INPUT
FROM THE
FIELD
AMPLIFIER
UNIT

I/V
CONVERTE
R

FILTER

ABSOLUTE
VALUE
CIRCUIT

DECIBEL
CONVERTE
R

BACKGROU
ND NOISE
SUBSTRACT
OR

ALARM SIGNAL

BOILER TUBE LEAKAGE INCIDENTS AT


MAITHAN AND THEIR ANALYSIS
REPORT OF FAILURE ON 14TH DECEMBER, 2011
INTRODUCTION
The Maithan Thermal Power Station has BHEL make 2X525 MW coal fired
sub critical units. On 14.12.2011 MTPS reported tube leaks in the first unit
boiler. The leak occurred at 60 mt elevation in 2nd pass Screen Tube(Water
Cooled) located near LRSB 132L accompanied by Pin hole leak observed
from the Extended water wall at same location.
Six tubes (one tube of 63.5 OD and five tubes of 51 OD), were received for
metallurgical failure investigation at CTDS, Mumbai in Jan 2012. Of these,
three tubes were with evidence of rupture/leaks while erosion marks
arising out of the primary leak were noticed on all tubes other than the
63.5 OD sample.
Description- The failed tubes are of 63.5 mm OD X 7.1 mm thick and 51
OD X 5 thk. The 51 OD tubes are all from the back pass of the
Superheated Steam cooled Front Screen Spacer Tubes and the 63.5 OD
tube is from the Screen tube section.

26
The design pressure and temperature of these tubes are 202.1 ksc, 363
deg C(51 OD) and 214.4 ksc and 397 deg C (63.5 OD) respectively. All the
tubes are rifled and to ASME SA 210 gr C specifications.
Preliminary examination of the tubes revealed:
1. No marks of corrosion or pitting or deposits in the tube ID of any of
the samples.
2. One 51 OD tube has a through crack starting at the end of the
support plate weld and the support weld has a weld defect of non
uniform weld throat thickness and thinning due to the weld run
deposit. This crack does not exhibit any deformation to indicate that
the failure has initiated from the steam side.(uniform diameter
around the crack)
3. 63.5 OD tube has a large window like opening showing no erosion
marks around. The tube has a diameter change in one direction. No
ballooning, swelling, overheating type of wall thinning is observed.
The 30 X 20 mm opening appears like a small portion of the tube
failed and got separated.
Physical tests, chemical analysis and metallographic tests is
carried out:
Table 1 : Tensile test results
Values
identification

Specimen
section

Tube size
51 OD X 5
thk
Tube size
51 OD X 5
thk
Tube size
63.5 X 7.5
thk
ASME SA 210
gr C specs.

6.55 thk
12.61 wide

Yield
strength
N/sq mm
X 421.6

UTS
N/sq mm

Elongation
%

548.91

25.94

7.04 thk X 402.1


12.60 wide

533.37

29.18

7.72 thk X 369.40


12.66 wide

546.14

26

485

30

275

Table 2 : Chemical Analysis Results


Elements

Identificati

Carbon %

Silicon %

Manganes
e%

Sulphur%

Phosphoru
s%

27
on
Tube
51 0.23
OD
Tube 63.5 0.24
OD
ASME SA 0.35
210 gr C

0.25

0.7

0.015

0.02

0.2

0.7

0.023

0.02

0.10

0.29-1.06

0.035

0.035

Hardness :
51 OD (tube site sample no 7) BHN 180-184
63.5 OD tube

BHN 215-217

DISCUSSION : the chemical analysis, flattening, and hardness test results


conforms to the ASME SA210 gr C grade. The tensile test results except
the elongation are in order. The percent elongation against 30% is less by
4%. This deviation in elongation is not a significant factor for further use.
On the 51 OD
metallography.

tubes

across

the

openings/failure

are

taken

for

The following is seen fron the microstructure of the affected portions:


Microstructure reveals ferrite and banded pearlite. Some grain flow is seen
due to deformation and grain drooping is also observed at ID. In some
locations voids can be seen along with the lamellar pearlite. Other tube
samples mostlt showed equiaxed grains of pearlite and ferrite.
On the 63.5 OD tube, Microstructure mostly revealed equiaxed grains of
pearlite and ferrite.
CONCLUSION
The visual examination of the intenal surface revealed that the tubes are
devoid of any sign corrosion products, pits, wastage; and the external
surface is free from any defects such as cracks, weld defects, etc. there is
no evidence of overheating on the primary failure (63.5 OD tube). Banding
indicates yielding. There is no phase transformation indicating severe
overheating.
The 63.5 OD tube has a 30 mm X 20 mm opening. This opening has no
wall thinning or ballooning or swelling. Except for a slight diameter change
there is no distress. This indicates that this could have been caused by the
presence of an oxide or non metallic layer which has got removed after a
few hours of loading and resistance.

28
The leak apparently has started from this opening and the release steam
has damaged the nearby tubes, its portions and supports. While the
external wall thinning was sustained by the other tubes until their internal
pressure and temperature load crossed the threshold. The yielding and
thinning after this threshold has led to the other leaks.

29
LTSH FAILURE REPORT ON 4TH MAY, 2012
INTRODUCTION
Maithan Power Limited reported a failure in U #1 LTSH area on 4.5.2012.
The failed tubes were received at CTDS for Component Damage Analysis
on 22.05.12.
The particulars of the tubes are:
Material to SA 213 gr T11.
Design Pressure 105.3 Bar; Design Temperature 464 deg C
Size (specified) is 47.63 OD X 5.6 mm thk.
Corrective Action carried out by the station:
a) Inspection of the area around the leakage and the neighbouring
area.
b) Replacement of the portions of tubes in the affected area and its
immediate vicinity.
ROOT CAUSE ANALYSIS:
The sound portion of the sample tubes received fron Maithan was
subjected to tensile tesr and the results are found to conform to the
ordered ASME SA213 gr T11 specifications:
As per Specs

UTS (415)

YS (205)

%
elongation
(30)
Actual
473.48
379.79
31.20
The spectro chemical analysis was carried out on the two of the failed
tubes and the welds and the result conforms to ASME SA 213 gr T11.The
tube has failed due to overheating caused by an excess penetration in the
adjacent butt joint. The tube is at the beginning of the bank of tubes close
to the LTSH inlet header which could be the source of debris which got
entangled in the sharp internal defect of the weld. The primary failure has
resulted in external corrosion of the neighbouring tubes, the weld quality
apparently harbouring foreign material from the header is the root cause.
PREVENTIVE ACTIONS:
A. It is suggested at the next opportunity to carry out radiography test
or UT on all such joints to identify similar defects, repair the welds
which have these defects and inspect close to th headersany OD
ballooning and attend the same.

30
B. Photograph of the location of failure from site suggest that the
freedom for movement of the tubes in that area is to be restricted
by the use of standard fixtures to permit the tubes only for thermal
expansion in the necessary direction. In case site engineers agree
that the supports are not adequate then at the next opportunity the
design drawing for supports may be verified and the supports put in
place.

31
BOILER OPERATION TO MINIMIZE TUBE
LEAKAGES
Efficient operation of the boiler, during startup, normal operation and shut
down is an essential pre-requisite for minimizing boiler tube leakages. Just
after erection, certain milestones have to be achieved in order to declare
the boiler as suitable for operation.
After erection, the following procedure is carried out:
1. HYDROTEST : the first hydrotest that is carried out on the boiler is
done at a pressure of about 315 ksc(1.5 times the design pressure
of the boiler design pressure) by a hydrotest pump maintained by
the station. The hydrotest is carried out on the non drainable tubes
first and then on the drainable and non drainable tubes together.
This hydrotest is primary importance as it points out the maximum
number of weld defects and tube leakages (during precommissioning works) which cannot be determined by Radiography
test.
2. BOILER LIGHT UP
3. CHEMICAL CLEANING
After lighting up the boiler, the boiler tube must be made free from
the debris lodged during commissioning for facilitating efficient heat
transfer, maintaining steam purity and preventing local heating
which may be an important cause of boiler tube leakages. Cleaning
process can be broadly classified as:
a. Alkali Boil out : carried out to remove oil, grease and rust.
Normally soda ash and TSP is used. Sodium sulphite is used to
reduce oxygen corrosion and sodium nitrite reduces caustic
embrittlement.
The boil out operation is carried out at about 0.2 times the rated
operating pressure of the boiler. The boiler drum is filled with
water upto the normal operating level and thw chemicals are
introduced in the syste via the normal dosing inlets. Since this is
the first time the boiler is being lighted, to facilitate checking up
free and uniform expansion of the unit while raising pressure, the
firing is to be maintained at a minimum. The silica and oil content
is monitored till oil content is below 1ppm. Then the boiler is
boxed up and allowed to slow cool. Hot dm water is flushed into
the boiler followed by cold rinsing.

32
b. Acid cleaning : An inhibited acid solution of EDTA (Ethylene
Diamine Tetra Acetic acid) is circulated for 4-5 hours by acid
circulation pumps. This cleaning is carried out to clear the tubs of
any scale deposits as well as for chelation, which forms the
protective magnetite film by reacting with the base metal on the
tube ID. Further, the iron iron content, silica etc are to be
dissolved to a considerable extent. After hot and cold rinsing,
neutralisation may be doenby soda ash. After passivation,
hydrazine and ammonia is charged and the boiler is laid up for a
predetermined time.
4. THERMAL FLOW TEST : The thermal flow test is carried out to
check the chocking of the superheaters, reheaters, waterwalls, etc.
by a thermal flow meter.

BOILER STARTUP/ SHUTDOWN


The processes involved in boiler startup and shut down is a major
cause in boiler tube leakages as these processes involve boiler
pressure parts thermal stresses caused by varying temperatures. The
following are the important points to be kept in mind while Boiler start
up and shut down :

Purge the boiler for at least 5 min before start up and shut down
with adequate air flow to dilute the combustible matter in the
furnace to avoid explosion.
Before introducing any fuel into the furnace, ensure sufficient
ignition energy. Whenever fuel intake is increased or reduced,
flame stability has to be kept in mind. While increasing fuel
input, load the burners to their rated capacity before cutting in
the other burners. While reducing fuel input, the load on the
adjacent burners must be kept above 50% before cutting the
remote burners.
The varying of temperature in the boiler causes stresses in the
boiler pressure parts. The rate of temperature variation is
restricted. The cooling range is more stringent than the heating
rate because the temperature stresses are acting in the same
direction as the pressure stresses while cooling while it is
opposing at the time of heating. Also, during heating the
temperature is controlled by adequate draft.

33

During startup, until adequate steam flow is established in the


reheater and superheater coils, the furnace exit temperature has
to be maintained below 540C. as soon as the furnace exit
temperature reaches close to the metallurgical limit, the steam
has to be bypassed in the reheaters to allow for cooling of the
tubes.
Maintain proper boiler chemical regime. Deaeration has to be
ensured to remove oxygen to avoid corrosion of the tubes.
Oxygen scavengers are further added to bring the level to
satisfactory levels. The boiler drum chemistry has to be
maintained by adequate blowdown quantity. During startup, high
silica content can be encountered and boiler drum pressure has
to be restricted to avoid excess carryover.
Whenever boiler is operated at lower pressures, the waterwalls
has to be protected from the excessive partial pressure
operation losses by cutting on the boiler output.
The condensed water in the undrained sections of the tube boils
and avoids the flow of steam. This may cause local overheating
and the metal temperature at these points have to be monitored
by thermocouples located in the superheaters and reheaters.
Low temperature corrosion can occur in the cold end of the APH
due to lower temperature during startup operations. To avoid
this SCAPH is employed which maintains the temperature of the
flue gas above dew point of the gas.
Economizer recirculation must be employed to prevent
starvation of the economizer tubes at startup loads. The boiler
drum has to be maintained and monitored continuously, since
there is swelling at this time. Boiler drum blowdown has to be
employed, as well as emergency blowdown has to be done to
maintain the drum level.

The Hot, Warm and Cold Start Up characteristics are given as below:

34