Results from an analysis of cracked first stage blades (or buckets) from two General Electric Frame 7001E industrial/electric utility gas turbines are presented. Numerous cracks were observed along the leading-edge and mid-chord regions of the pressure and suction surfaces. In one unit cracks were found after 874 start-stop cycles, which included 218 trips from load and 11,000 service hours. Buckets in the sister engine were examined after 1800 cycles, which included 218 trips from load and 24,000 service hours. In both cases, cracks initiated in the platinum aluminide coating and propagated into the IN-738LC base metal. For the 11,000-hour bucket, 20-mil (0.5-mm) deep cracks were observed, and for the 24,000-hour bucket, the leading edge cracks had grown to the leading edge cooling hole, a distance of 0.2 inches (5 mm). The number of cycles to crack initiation was in good agreement with thermal mechanical fatigue (TMF) predictions from the REMLIF computer program, which is part of the Electric Power Research Institute’s (EPRI) Life Management System. The cracking was greatly accelerated by the large number of trips experienced. The extensive crack propagation that occurred is thought to have been strongly assisted by oxygen and sulfur penetration along the grain boundaries. The coating on the leading edge degraded from the original platinum-aluminide plus beta phases to a gamma prime phase after 24,000 hours of service, but it was still protective except where it was cracked. Where the coating was cracked, environmental attack of the interdiffusion zone and base metal occurred, resulting in spallation of the coating and preferential grain boundary attack. Operating and maintenance considerations for optimizing bucket life in demanding cyclic duty environments are also discussed.

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