Failure Analysis of a 304L Stainless Steel Pipe in Heated Ammonium Nitrate Service Downstream of Pumping

A leak was discovered at a Nitrate plant on a 3.5” outer diameter (OD) stainless steel (SS) pipe carrying Ammonium Nitrate (AN). High readings on the steam conductivity monitoring program triggered an investigation, which resulted in finding that AN leaked into the steam jacket.

 The pipe was made from 304L Stainless Steel (SS) manufactured to the ASTM A312 specification and was situated in 5” carrier pipe containing 750 kPa steam at ~175ºC. The failed AN line operated at ~1013 kPa between 144ºC and 153ºC. The internal surface of the failed section is shown in Figure 1. Cutouts of the failed section, an intact equivalent nearby, and the carrier pipe were submitted for failure analysis. This article summarizes the scope, methods, results, and interesting findings from the failure analysis conducted.

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Sara Mathov is a feature editor contributing to Valve World Americas, Stainless steel World Americas and other related print & online media.