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Engineering Failure Analysis 13 (2006) 925932

www.elsevier.com/locate/engfailanal

Erosion corrosion of pump impeller of cyclic cooling


water system
a,* b
S. Ariely , A. Khentov
a
Materials Laboratory, Israel Electric Co., P.O.B. 10, Haifa 31000, Israel
b
Chief Chemist Department, Israel Electric Co., P.O.B. 10, Haifa 31000, Israel

Received 17 January 2005; accepted 10 July 2005


Available online 6 September 2005

Abstract

An impeller of a pump of cyclic cooling water system (CCWS) of power plant, failed after about 13 years of service.
Tolyltriazole (TT) is included in the water as corrosion inhibitor. Most of the surface of both blades was pitted, and clear
grinding marks were noticeable. The pits are horseshoe-shaped. Examination of those pits revealed a pattern of dendrites
on the pits surface. Cross-section shows that the pits are craters like, which is typical to pits that are formed by impinge-
ment. Corrosion, which follows impingement, roughens those pits surface. Those ndings are typical to erosioncorrosion
mechanism. Elements mapping of dendrite like pattern shows that the dendrite material is rich with copper, while inter-
dendritic material is rich with lead and tin. We conclude that in both blades open shrinkage defects were lled by weld
followed by grinding. As a result, blade surfaces were defected causing local irregular ow regime which caused to pre-
ferred impingement of the welded material. The impingement bubbles were lled by TT vapors that, due to the relative
low pressure, decomposed. One of decomposition products was ammonia, which caused the preferred corrosion of
copper. The open shrinkage defects were exposed due to material removing by cavitation erosion corrosion process.
 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Impingement; Cavitation; Erosioncorrosion; Tolyltriazole; Copper-base alloy

1. Introduction

An impeller of a pump of the cyclic cooling water systems (CCWS) at power plant, failed after about
13 years of service. One of the impeller blades was removed and sent to Materials Laboratory for failure
analysis. Later, the whole impeller was sent to complete the analysis, Fig. 1.

*
Corresponding author. Tel.: +972 4 868 9227; fax: +972 4 868 9242.
E-mail address: s-ariely@iec.co.il (S. Ariely).

1350-6307/$ - see front matter  2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.engfailanal.2005.07.012
926 S. Ariely, A. Khentov / Engineering Failure Analysis 13 (2006) 925932

Fig. 1. General view of impeller of a pump of CCWS.

The CCWS is designed to work with water temperature of 60 C nevertheless water temperature never
exceeds 45 C. Water pH is 8.29.5. Tolyltriazole (TT) is included in the water as corrosion inhibitor, in
order to protect against corrosion of copper alloys.
This paper presents the ndings of the metallurgical analysis of the failure of the impeller pump, and a
possible relation of the failure to the stability and decomposition of dissolved TT in water.

2. Failure analysis

Visual inspection shows that two out of four blades of the impeller were damaged. The nature of damage
in both blades was similar, as shown in Figs. 1 and 2. Most of the surface of both blades was pitted. A

Fig. 2. Damaged impeller blade.


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relative large number of pits were found close the impeller ring in both blades, and clear grinding marks
were noticeable on the edge of the pitted area.
Inspection of the pitted area using stereomicroscopy shows that the pits are horseshoe-shaped. This
shape is typical to impingement, were the open ends of the groove are directed downstream, see Fig. 3.
The mapping pits open ends show the change of ow direction along the pump impeller blade, see Fig. 4.
While the surface of some of the pits looks quite smooth, other pit surfaces look rough; see Figs. 3 and 5.
Careful examination of those pits revealed a pattern of dendrites on the pits surface.
The cross-section shows that the pits are craters like see Fig. 6. This shape is typical to pits that are
formed by impingement. Cross-sections of rough surface pit show that their basic shape is crater like, as

Fig. 3. Horseshoe-shaped grooves on blade surface (10).

Fig. 4. Pits open ends pointing changes in ow direction (6).


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smooth surface pits. By this we can conclude that both types of pits are due to impingement. Corrosion,
which follows impingement, roughens pits surface, and inter-dendritic cracks extract from the rough pits,
see Fig. 7. Those ndings are typical to erosion corrosion mechanism.
Metallography shows that the impeller material microstructure is dendritic, typical to cast copper-based
alloy. Lead-based and tin-based precipitants were identied using EDS in the former inter-dendritic liquid,
see Fig. 8. Metallography shows an open shrinkage type defect. This defect is typical to casting, see Fig. 9.
Cross-section micrographs show a microstructure typical to welding. The welding is positioned on the pit-
ted surface of the impeller blade, see Fig. 10.

Fig. 5. Rough pits surface (25).

Fig. 6. A cross-section of showing a crater shape pit.


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Fig. 7. Cross-sections of rough surface pit. An inter-dendritic crack extract from the pits.

Fig. 8. Microstructure of blades material.

Fig. 9. Open shrinkage defect in blades material.


930 S. Ariely, A. Khentov / Engineering Failure Analysis 13 (2006) 925932

Fig. 10. Microstructure typical to welding on the pitted surface.

EDS measurements shows that impeller blade material composition is typical to Navy M bronze
(C92200, 88Cu6Sn1 12 Pb4 12 Zn). Welding material is typical to Phosphor Bronze, 8% C (C52100,
92Cu8Sn), see Table 1.
Fractography using SEM shows that there is no evidence to plastic deformation on the fracture, Fig. 11.
Elements mapping of dendrite like pattern fracture shows that the dendrite material is rich with copper,
while inter-dendritic material is rich with lead and tin. These ndings are compatible with the EDS mea-
surements of composition of metallography samples, see Fig. 8. On other head, zinc is equally dispersed
between dendrite and former inter-dendritic liquid, Fig. 11. The reason for that is the negligible solubility
of lead and tin in copper, which brings the lead and tin to precipitate out of the liquid solution during
solidication.

Table 1
Compositions at various locations of CCWS pump impeller
Sn Pb Zn W Ni Fe Cu
General 4.8 2.5 2.7 0.3 0.5 0.1 Bal.
Dendrite 3.0 0.1 3.0 0.4 0.5 0.1 Bal.
Inter-dendritic liq. 7.9 0.1 2.2 0.3 0.6 0.1 Bal.
Weld 6.7 0.3 0.3 0.1 0.4 Bal.
S. Ariely, A. Khentov / Engineering Failure Analysis 13 (2006) 925932 931

Fig. 11. Elements mapping of dendrite like pattern fracture.

3. Discussion

The results show that open shrinkage casting defects were formed at two of four impeller blades during
casting. The manufacturer using welding followed with grinding blades surface, lled those defects. Appar-
ently, welding and grinding quality were not sucient, which exceeded local damage rate due to turbulence.
Turbulence caused pitting by impingement of the welded material.
Water chemistry included TT as inhibitor was supposed to avoid any of copper corrosion. Nevertheless,
rough surfaces of some of the pits, together with EDS mapping results, suggest that copper suered corrosion
while at the same time lead and tin precipitates remained unaected. One may ask for the source of corrosion.
Impingement erosion is the most severe form of erosioncorrosion, although impingement damage may
occur without active corrosion. Impingement principally occurs when relative motion between a metal sur-
face and liquid environment causes vapor bubbles to appear. When the bubbles collapse, they impose
hammer like blows simultaneously with the initiation of tearing action that appear to pull away portion
of the surface. Whenever high velocities give rise to extremely low pressure areas, as in a jet or rotary pump,
vapor bubbles collapse at high pressure areas and destroy the protective lm on the metal surface [1]. When
the bubbles contain corrosive vapor, corrosion can occur in the pits.
The question is: what corrosive vapor is coming in question?
932 S. Ariely, A. Khentov / Engineering Failure Analysis 13 (2006) 925932

TT is a well-known stable inhibitor for copper alloys. In a work that was done by the Technion Research
and Development Foundation Ltd., for IEC Chemical Engineering Research Center, it was found that ther-
mal destruction of TT, in the presence of inorganic components within corrosion inhibitor formulation,
become signicant at temperatures above 150 C. The presence of N-heteroatoms in TT molecules suggests
that thermal decomposition of TT in the presence of air will lead to formation of nitrides and nitrates.
Ammonia will probably be also formed, since much N-containing organic form ammonia as refractory
intermediate in airwater medium. The decomposition reaction may be expressed as:
a b cC7 H7 N3 H2 O O2 ! aC7 H9 N2 bC7 H7 N2 O2 cC7 H4 N2 O4 a b c=6HN
4
a b c=6NO 3 1
The CCWS is design for water temperature of 60 C, nevertheless the water temperature never exceeds 45 C.
In the above mentioned work, it was mentioned that decomposition become signicant at temperatures
above 150 C, which is too far to be considered for CCWS. So how could TT decomposition take place?
To answer this question we have rst to address thermodynamics. Le Cateliers principle states that
when a system, which is at equilibrium, is subjected to the eects of external inuence, then the system
moves in that direction which tends to nullify the eects of that external inuence [2]. If the pressure exert
on a system at reaction equilibrium is increased, then the system will shift in that direction which tends to
decrease the pressure exert by the system (i.e., will shift in that direction which decreases the number of the
moles present) [3] and vise versa. If the pressure exert on a system is decreased, the system will shift in that
direction which increases the number of the mole present.
Impingements occur due to extremely low pressure, which causes vapor bubbles to appear. The vapor
pressure in the bubble is signicantly lower then the nominal pressure of the system. We assume that
the pressure in the bubble is low enough to decompose the TT according to formula (1). One of the TT
decomposition reaction products is ammonia. Ammonia is a well-known copper and copper alloys corro-
dent, but is less aggressive for lead and tin. This explains the preferred corrosion of copper on impingement
pits surface. Since ammonia quantity is small, and reaction time is very short, corrosion process took rel-
atively long time, which enabled the pump impeller 13 years of service.

4. Conclusions

 Two of four CCWS pump impeller blades failed by impingement erosion corrosion.
 In both blades open shrinkage defects were found. Those defects were lled by weld followed by grind-
ing. Probably, welds quality was not sucient. As a result, blade surfaces were defected causing local
irregular ow regime and preferred impingement of the welded material.
 The impingement bubbles were lled by TT vapors that, due to the relative low pressure, decomposed.
One of decomposition products was ammonia, which caused the preferred corrosion of copper.
 The open shrinkage defects were exposed resulting in material removed by impingement erosion corro-
sion process leading to the nal failure of the impeller.

References

[1] Metals handbook, vol. 11. 9th ed. ASM; 1986. p. 999.
[2] Gaskell DR. Introduction to metallurgical thermodynamics. Mcgraw-Hill Kogakusha, Ltd.; 1973. p. 133.
[3] Gaskell DR. Introduction to metallurgical thermodynamics. Mcgraw-Hill Kogakusha, Ltd.; 1973. p. 226.