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Boiler tube failures (BTFs) in natural circulation high pressure drum boiler of a
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Article  in  Journal of scientific and industrial research · January 2009

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Journal of Scientific & Industrial Research
SOHAIL et al: BOILER TUBE FAILURES IN NATURAL CIRCULATION HIGH PRESSURE DRUM BOILER
Vol. 68, January 2009, pp. 61-65
61

Boiler tube failures (BTFs) in natural circulation high pressure drum boiler of a
power station
M Azad Sohail1*, A Ismail Mustafa2 and M Abdul Gafur3
1
Central Chemical Research Laboratory, Ghorasal Thermal Power Station, BPDB, Narsingdi 1610, Bangladesh
2
Department of Applied Chemistry and Chemical Technology, University of Dhaka, Dhaka 1000, Bangladesh
3
Pilot Plant and Process Development Centre, Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Dhaka 1205, Bangladesh

Received 18 July 2007; revised 13 October 2008; accepted 25 November 2008

This paper assesses boiler tube failures (BTFs), especially in boiler water wall tubes (BWWTs) for a natural circulation
high-pressure fossil (natural gas) drum boiler unit (TIME-COB-206, Russia). Metallographic (micro and macrostructural)
examinations of BWWTs materials (carbon steel, Russia) were carried out extensively. Analyses of carbon (mild) steels (0.22%
C) revealed distinctive changes in ferrite-pearlite distribution, might be due to decarburization. Huge pits, few grooves followed
by flow lines were observed on internal surfaces of BWWTs with respect to length of power plant operation. Corrosions or
scaling in BWWTs depicted one of the major causes of BTFs in fossil units with drum boilers usually treated by coordinated
phosphates.

Keywords: BTFs, Boiler, Hydrogen damage, Regime, Water wall tubes

Introduction 206, Russia), at unit No.4 Ghorasal Thermal Power Station


Boiler tube failures (BTFs), due to corrosion, scale (GTPS), Bangladesh.
formation and materials degradations, are major
problems in thermal power plants. Dooley 1,2 Experimental Procedure
investigated tubes failures in conventional fossil fired Using a Metallurgical Microscope (Japan), micro and
boiler as well as in combined cycle power plant, besides macro structural investigations of BWWTs materials were
BFTs in all volatile treaded (AVT) fossil drum boiler carried out. During analyses of microstructures,
unit. Bursik3 found that under-deposit mechanism hydrochloric acid, nitric acid and water were employed
continue unabated with hydrogen damage occurring in for etching of sample materials. Analyses of the
drum boiler unit (60%) due to deficiencies in cycle composition of BWWTs materials, deposits attained and
chemistry. Hirano4 investigated corrosion behavior of operational chemical parameters of boiler water were
boiler materials during long-term lay up of a fossil unit. carried out by using an Atomic Absorption
Kohler5 studied corrosion damage in copper alloyed Spectrophotometer (AAS), model: AA6650, Shimadzu
power cycle components of thermal power plant. (Japan) and a Photo-electric colorimeter, model: KFK-2
Hickling6 identified environmentally assisted cracking (Russia).
(EAC) of carbon steel and low-alloy steels pressure
vessels and pipelines for steam generating system of Measurement of Deposits
nuclear power plants. Prisyazhniuk 7 simplified a Quantity of deposits on inside surface of BWWTs at
technique for calculating index of corrosion and scale different period of time was determined8 by rubbing out
forming properties of boiler water. deposits from a definite surface area (3 cm × 3 cm) of
This study presents cause failures in boiler water WWTs followed by weighing. Composition of deposits
wall tubes (BWWTs) materials (carbon steel, st.- 20, (as oxide) was determined by gravimetric8, titrimetric,
Russia) for a natural circulation water wall tubes high AAS and colourimetric8-10 techniques.
pressure (158 kgfcm-2) drum boiler unit (TIME-COB- Results and Discussion
Coordinated phosphate treated natural circulation water
*Author for correspondence wall tubes high pressure drum boiler unit No.4, at GTPS,
E-mail: masohail2004@yahoo.com Bangladesh, is operated with maintaining chemical
62 J SCI IND RES VOL 68 JANUARY 2009

parameters as supplied by the Russian plant


manufacturers (Table 1). Chemical analyses of BWWTs

3.0-6.0

Up to
P043-
materials (carbon steel, st.-20, Russia) collected from

30
-

-
boiler unit No.4 revealed slight changes in constituents
in BWWTs. (Table 2). Steel BWWTs contained (average

≤0.005
values): C, 0.22; Si, 0.21; Mn, 0.47; S, 0.02; and P,

0.010
0.015%.
Na

-
During last overhauling of unit, hard, irregular, dark
brown to black, tenacious deposits have covered internal
0.010

0.020
DO

surfaces of BWWTs after 96000 h of boiler operation.


Table 1Supplied (Russian) parameters for natural circulation high -pressure (158 kgf.cm-2) drum boiler unit

-
Witch often indicates that deposition11 has been occurring
for a long time at high metal temperature. Maximum
0.040
0.02

0.02

0.60 deposits were observed on fireside internal surface (388


Fe

-
gM-2) and on insulation side of internal surfaces (290
gM-2). Extensively immaculate chemical compositions
∠0.005

∠0.005

(as oxides) of deposits collected (by rubbing out) from


TIME-206-COB (Russia) of Ghorasal Power Station, Bangladesh

Cu

internal surfaces of BWWTs after three different periods


(21900 h, 43800 h and 96000 h) contained maximum (%)
0.002

0.004

0.004

amount of Fe2O3, followed by SiO2, CaO, MgO, P2O5,


Cl-

Al2O3 and CuO (Table 3). As such a types of hard


deposition on BWWTs, essentially due to excessive
0.5-1.0

0.5-1.0
NH 3

fireside heat input, uncontrolled chemical dosing as well


-

as administration of contaminated makeup (feed) water


into boiler water chemical regime (BWCR) due to
0.02-0.06

condenser leakage.
Trace
N 2H 4

Microstructure images of internal BWWTs materials


-

(carbon steel, st-20, Russia) of unit No.4 after 43800h


(Fig. 1) and 96000 h (Fig. 2) of power plant operation
0.02-0.04

0.02-0.04

0.50-1.50
0.02-0.1

depicted distinctive changes (spreading trends) in ferrite


2.0-6.0

≤0.015

(white) and pearlite (lamellar, black, i.e. γ→∝+ Fe3C)


SiO2

distributions with respect to plant operating period.


Microstructural change in carbon mild steel also indicates
0.1-0.2
∠0.05

∠0.05

∠0.05

∠0.05

decarburization, initially around pearlite and then gradually


H2

spreading, may be due to long term high rate of heat


flow through BWWTs. Macrostructure images of the
0.35-0.40

30.0-45.0
Alk. p/m

0.50-1.0

0.50-1.0

0.50-1.0

internal BWWTs materials of unit No.4, after 96000 h of


2.0-3.0

2.0-3.5

1.5-2.0
4.5-6.0

1.5-2.5

2.0-3.0

plant operation revealed huge pits and very few numbers


00

of grooves on internal surfaces of BWWTs in transverse


section (Fig. 3) and while irregular parallel flow lines
Up to 40
0.3-1.5

9.1±0.1 0.8-4.0

9.1±0.1 0.8-4.0

4.0-8.0

were observed on inside surfaces of BWWTs at


EC*-µ Scm-1, Other units-mgl-1
EC*

longitudinal direction (Fig. 4).


9.1±0.1 -

Oxygen pitting was present along waterline throughout


6.5-6.8

internal surfaces of BWWTs due to improper hydrazine


pH

9.3

9.5

dosing. While grooves might be resulted from


accumulation of highly concentrated NaOH in BWWTs
(blow down)
Condensate

Salt section
Boilerdrum
DemiWater
Parameters

Feedwater

as well as erosion loss due to long time high rated


(clean)

circulation of water-steam system as well as excessive


Steam

boiler blow down. Close macrostructure images show


finely spaced, wave lines, parallel undulation on eroded
SOHAIL et al: BOILER TUBE FAILURES IN NATURAL CIRCULATION HIGH PRESSURE DRUM BOILER 63

Fig. 1—Microstructure of ∅ 60 × 6 Carbon Steel, Water Wall Fig. 2—Microstructure of (∅ 60 × 6 Carbon Steel, Water Wall
tube showing ferrite and pearlite × 600 (after 43800 h) tube) unit No. 4 showing ferrite and pearlite × 600 (after 96000 h)

Fig. 3—Macrostructure of (∅ 60 × 6 Carbon Steel, Water Wall


Fig. 4—Macrostructure of (∅ 60 × 6 Carbon Steel, Water Wall
tube, internal) unit No. 4, showing etch pits, × 60, in the
tube) unit No. 4, showing flow lines in the longitudinal directions,
transverse section (after 96000 h)
× 60 (after 96000 h)

45 0

40 0

35 0

30 0
D e pos it gM-2

25 0

20 0

15 0
F ire s ide (15 8 k gfc m -2)
10 0 in sula tio n s ide (158 k gfc m -2)
F ire s ide (10 0 k gfc m -2)
50 in sula tio n s ide (100 k gfc m -2)

0
0 20 00 0 40 00 0 60 00 0 80 00 0 10 00 00 12 00 00
O pe ratin g p eriod , h

d
-2
m d.
Fig. 5— Macrostructure of (∅ 60 × 6 Carbon Steel, Water Wall -2
Fig. 6—Amount of deposit (gm ) built up on boiler water wall
tube, external fire side) unit No.4, showing flow lines and groove tubes of 158 and 100 kgf cm-2 boilers with respect to operating
in the longitudinal directions, × 60, (after 96000 h). period
64 J SCI IND RES VOL 68 JANUARY 2009

fireside external surfaces of boiler WWTs followed by Grooving on internal surfaces of boiler, WWTs might
distinctive hemispherical pits adjacent to a distinct be resulted from caustic accumulation from excessive
groove after 96000 h of plant operation (Fig. 5). It phosphates dosing into BWCR. Phosphates dosing
happened possible due to erosion of tube materials by parameters in BWCR of such a high-pressure drum
highly heated fuel flow containing trace amount of boiler is found to be very high in comparison to
sulphur in the fuel. Corroded regions of fireside boiler Japanese13 practices of similar capacity. Actually,
WWTs were covered with a thin but soft layer of brown phosphates in BWCR produce NaOH and apparently
corrosion product, which contained: iron, 93.4; silica, concentrated to corrosive level beneath porous iron
3.3; carbonates, 1.7; and sulpher, 1.1%. oxide deposits. Presence of hard magnetite deposits
indicates exposure to concentrated NaOH 14
Scale layer thickness as well as deposits quantity adminstration in BWCR, which may finally cause in
(gM-2) in BWWTs increases with increase in boiler hydrogen damage9 that is almost always associated with
pressure followed by length of plant operation (Fig. 6). BWWTs metal gouging followed by thick-walled
Moreover, burner position and excessive steam ruptures. Robin15 depicted that employing steel alloy 600
production contributed significantly to deposition and (USA) tubes in re-circulating steam generators (RSGs),
eventual overheating. So far, in one of the fireside tube which chemically treated with phosphates, produces
(No.10, panel No.13), slight rupture and fissuring, might excessive corrosive thinning (waste) followed by stress
be caused by very long -term expose of metal to high corrosion cracking (SCC) on internal tubes materials.
temperature. Deposits contained high level of silica After completion of overhauling the unit No.4, boiler
(10.7% SiO2) in its constituent. Therefore, silica- was acid cleaned carefully and boiler chemical
containing deposits have very low 12 thermal parameters were re-evaluated, especially phosphates
conductively (0.2-0.6 Kcal.m-1.h.°C). Even a relatively parameter has been minimized. Now, unit has been
small amount of such a type of deposit can cause rise operated at or slight below the designed loads and
in wall temperatures considerably, and hence results in ensuring that all boiler components are working
boiler tube overheating followed by bulging, rupture, effectively. Procedure has minimized solid deposition
and bursting of BWWTs.. on internal surfaces of BWWTs tube.

Table 2—Chemical composition (%) of boiler WWTs (158 kgf.cm-2 boiler) materials (carbon steel,
st.-20, Russia) with respect to operating period

Location Operating Chemical composition, %


period, h Carbon Silicon Manganese Sulphur Phosphorus

Right wall 0 0.24 0.18 0.55 0.03 0.03


Left wall 21900 0.22 0.21 0.50 0.02 0.01
Front wall 43800 0.21 0.22 0.48 0.02 0.02
Back wall 96000 0.18 0.23 0.44 0.03 0.02

Table-3—Chemical composition (average) of deposits attained on internal surfaces of boiler WWTs (158 kgf.cm-2 boiler) as a function of
plant operation at GTPS, Bangladesh (maintaining chemical parameters as Table 1)

Operating Oxide, %
period, h
Fe2O3 SiO2 CaO MgO Al2O3 P 2O 5 CuO

21900 82.4 6.20 3.88 2.27 0.71 2.90 0.82


43800 72.3 8.2 6.20 3.80 1.9 4.8 1.02
96000 63.2 10.7 8.38 5.84 2.8 5.6 1.78
SOHAIL et al: BOILER TUBE FAILURES IN NATURAL CIRCULATION HIGH PRESSURE DRUM BOILER 65

Conclusions Palo Alto, CA, USA) 1996.


Administration of contaminated feed water (due to 3 Bursik A, Drum boiler on all-volatile treatment-The pH pitfall,
condenser leakage), excessive dosing of phosphates in Power Plant Chem, GmbH, Germany, 6 (2004) 683-688.
BWCR, non-uniform practices of boiler blow down as 4 Hirano M, Itaba S, Minami T, Niu Li-Bin & Takaku H,
Corrosion behaviour of boiler materials during long-term layup
well as over firing during startup are major causes of
of a fossil unit, Power Plant Chem, GmbH, Germany, 7 (2005)
hard deposition on BWWTs, in such a type of high 16-20.
pressure drum boiler with respect to length of plant 5 Kohler S & Muller M, Corrosion behaviour of and damage to
operation. Long term overheating of BWWTs caused copper alloy power cycle components, Power Plant Chem,
distinctive microstructure changes in BWWTs materials GmbH, Germany, 7 (2005) 25-30.
(carbon steel, st.-20, Russia) due to carburization, 6 Hickling J, Seifert H & Ritter S, Research and service experience
with environmentally assisted creaking of row alloy steel, Power
initially around pearlite and then gradually spreading Plant Chem, GmbH, Germany, 7 (2005) 4-15.
and causeing micro fissuring, leading to inter-granular 7 Prisyazhniuk V A, The langelier saturation index: Further
cracking followed by hydrogen damages. Thermal development, Power Plant Chem, GmbH, Germany, 7 (2005)
stresses during startup, shutdown, load changes as well 435-442.
as faulty boiler firing and fuel adjustment may also be 8 Kostrikin Y, Manual on Analysis of Water, Steam and Sediments
reason for scaling followed by metallographic change at Thermal Power Facilities (Energia, Russia) 1967, 3.
9 Kudesia V P, Water Pollution, 3rd edn (Paragati Prakashan,
in BWWTs materials.
Meerut, India) 1990, 227-254, 328, 397.
10 Operational Manual (GTPS, BPDB, Bangladesh) 1973.
Acknowledgement
11 Port R D & Herro H M, The Nalco Guide to Boiler Failure
Authors thank Head, Department of Materials and Analysis (Nalco Chemical Company, McGraw-Hill, Inc USA)
Metallurgical Engineering, Bangladesh University of 1991, 46.
Engineering Technology (BUET), Dhaka 1000, 12 Port R D & Herro H M, The Nalco Guide to Boiler Failure
Bangladesh for help in micro and macro examination. Analysis (Nalco Chemical Company, McGraw-Hill, Inc USA)
1991, 162.
13 Chemistry Control of Thermal Power Plant Training Materials
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