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Brittle fracture manifestation in gas pipeline steels after long-term operation

Abstract

Gas pipelines are exposed to operational loads combined with corrosive environment action during their long-term service. Complicated service conditions lead to a worsening of steel properties, a reduction of serviceability of the whole object, therefore, a risk of its premature failure rises. Aware of the importance of the existing problem, the aim of this study is the analysis of various mechanical properties of steels after their long-term operation on gas pipelines, and detecting and evaluating fractographic signs of this degradation.

Mechanical properties of operated pipe steels characterizing their brittle fracture resistance were significantly decreased. Delamination areas as one of a feature of brittle fracture were identified on the fracture surfaces of specimens after SSRT of the operated steels in corrosive environment. Fracture was initiated from the outer surface of the specimens along the boundaries of ferrite and pearlite grains with significant secondary cracking.

The obvious texture in the steels affects noticeably the results of the impact tests. Higher KCV values for the specimens cut in the longitudinal direction relative to the pipe axis comparing with the specimens of transversal orientation were obtained. This was explained by different length of narrow pearlite strips alternated by wide ferrite bands and interrupted by individual ferrite grains depending on the orientation of the specimen fracture surface relative to the pipe axis. Thus, a proper direction of specimen cutting to achieve the maximum sensitivity of KCV parameter to operational degradation of steels is discussed. The effect of specimen orientation on the results of the Charpy testing becomes much more pronounced with steel operation. Defects accumulated in steels during their service are preferentially oriented in the pipe axial direction along the boundaries between ferrite and pearlite strips. Analyzing the fracture surfaces of the Charpy specimens after their impact testing, certain signs of embrittlement were found for long term operated steels in the form of delaminations varying in size and shape, and some cleavage fragments. Furthermore, their percentage of total fracture surface (generally formed by dimples) correlates well with a drop in the impact toughness. The established relationship could be the basis for the introduction of fractographic criteria of the steel serviceability.

Funding source: NATO in the Science for Peace and Security Programme under the Project G5055.
Countries: Ukraine
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2020-12-01
2021-09-26
http://instance.metastore.ingenta.com/content/journal1979
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