Duplex stainless steel (DSS) is one material choice to fabricate the reactor effluent air cooler (REAC) of hydrocracker units in order to improve the performance and service lifetime of these units. Unfortunately, several failures from around the world have been reported in REAC units constructed of DSS, some within five years of service. Based on failure analysis reports, the failures were generally associated with welded joints and were caused by crevice/pitting corrosion and stress corrosion cracking. Given the condition of hydrogen-rich environment, high-pressure process fluid, and service temperature, this type of cracking is most likely a form of hydrogen assisted cracking (HAC). It is highly influenced by phase balance (ferrite/austenite) after welding and welding procedures, with high levels of ferrite in the weld metal or HAZ increasing the susceptibility to HAC. In this study, different weld metal phase balances were prepared by autogenous gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW). The delayed hydrogen cracking test (DHCT) was used to evaluate the effects of the weld phase balance on the susceptibility to HAC in DSS 2205 welds. Using this approach, weld metal ferrite levels on the order of 90 vol% ferrite led to very rapid failure, while reducing the ferrite level to approximately 60 vol% greatly increased resistance to HAC.

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