An Acoustic Emission Test (AET) was performed on a hydrocarbon processing reactor to inspect for environmental cracking in 2000. The thick-wall reactor was built in 1965, fabricated from 2.25Cr-1Mo steel with Type 347 stainless steel weld overlay. Past internal inspections of the reactor using liquid penetrant had revealed cracking at internal ring supports. Such inspections were exhaustive and time consuming. The AET was performed to achieve 100% inspection coverage of the reactor and to identify suspect areas for further evaluation. The test included over-pressurization of the reactor to 10% above its operating pressure before the shutdown and the actual cooling of the reactor from 745°F to 300°F. Upon completion of the acoustic emission (AE) monitoring, significant indications were identified, most noticeably at the reactor dump nozzle and the bottom head to shell weld. Both of these were in areas that had not been inspected previously. Follow-up inspections, including external ultrasonic and internal liquid penetrant test, were performed to investigate all the areas of significant AE activities. The results showed internal cracks isolated to the weld overlay at the catalyst dump nozzle and a 12” long weld slag inclusion in the bottom head to shell weld. A methodology was developed also to evaluation criticality of AE signals during different stages of AE test.

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