This paper describes the many features of a detailed investigation into the determination of a root cause for internal cracking found in the circumferential welds of radiant superheater crossover piping lines, in the Units No. 1 and 2 boilers at Big Cajun II Station in New Roads, Louisiana. The history of inside diameter, circumferential cracks dates back to 1992. The cracking had been recorded during several outages for both units. It was discovered by use of ultrasonic shear wave testing, and verified by ultrasonic time of flight diffraction methods. During each of the ensuing unit outages, the crack depths were recorded and mapped. Repairs were undertaken by machining out the complete girth weld followed by re-welding. During the interim years cracking did re-occur at many of the weld locations. In 2000, a detailed investigation into the cause of the cracking was initiated, which resulted in recommendations for resolving the ongoing problem. This detailed study included; nondestructive testing and metallurgy of removed metal samples, boiler performance testing and analysis and stress, fatigue and fracture mechanics evaluations. The detailed background, applications and results of the many and varied testing and analytical tasks are fully described herein. The main conclusion to the root cause of the cracking is identified as fatigue caused by the combined effects of thermal and pressure cycles. Recommendations are given which address the actions needed to limit or prevent re-occurrence of the cracking, including revised boiler operating procedures. In addition, a series of fatigue crack growth curves is presented, as a monitoring toot for evaluating existing cracks in the welds.

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