The results of an investigation of a long-seam welded low chrome pipe that failed in a high-temperature refinery piping system are presented in this paper. Based upon the results of a metallurgical investigation, which included a creep testing program and a detailed finite element stress analysis, the cause of the failure has been attributed to creep damage at the weld seam. The metallurgical investigation and creep testing program indicated that the 1-1/4 Cr-1/2 Mo pipe material was normalized and exhibited greater than average creep strength and creep ductility. The results of a piping stress analysis indicated that all pressure, weight, and thermal stresses were in compliance with the ASME B31.3 Piping Code (ASME, 1993a). Nonetheless, the pipe failed after only 100,000 h at a nominal hoop stress of 6 ksi (41.4 MPa) with an operating temperature range of 970°F (521°C) to 1000°F (538°C). Results from subsequent detailed finite element stress analyses of the failed pipe indicated that very high localized bending stresses were present in the pipe due to peaking at the long-seam weld. These stresses partially relax by creep, but after 100,000 h they were still approximately 38 percent higher than the nominal hoop stress. The creep strains resulting from stress relaxation and those associated with the long-term value of the sustained stresses cause severe creep damage at the weld seam. As a result of this damage, cracks initiated at the inside of the pipe and primarily grew through the HAZ/fusion line until an 18-in. through-wall crack developed. The pipe was produced to ASTM A691, Grade 1-1/4 Cr, Class 41 (ASTM, 1989), and the peaked geometry was found to satisfy the fabrication tolerances of this standard. The need for the development of an acceptable tolerance for peaking in addition to the outside diameter and out-of-roundness fabrication tolerances currently included in this standard is highlighted for long-seam welded pipe that is to operate in the creep range.

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