Failure investigation of a primary superheater tube

Md Mujibur Rahman, M. H.A. Zuhairi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This paper presents the root cause failure investigation of P3T3 boiler tube of Unit 5 Stesen Janaelektrik Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz (SJSSAA) Kapar. As Unit 5 requires running at all the time, any disruption of operation because of failure would cause the lose in revenue and potential disruption to the customers. The investigation consists of visual inspection on the failed tube and surrounding primary superheater region. The tube samples were tested to determine Vicker’s hardness before put under observation using optical microscope to inspect microstructure. Information on operation history was collected and using available data, Larson-Miller analysis was conducted to determine the temperature the tube was subjected to. Visual inspection shows open burst failure and potential overheating left by burnt mark on surrounding tubes. It also revealed presence of clinker that covered almost the entire primary superheater region. Hardness results showed a decrease of hardness from 163 HV to 157.08 HV. Microstructures of the tube samples revealed spheroidization at specimens number 1, 2 and 4. Operation investigation found that three coals, i.e., Duiker, Ensham and Twisdraai with low ash fusion temperature were used prior to failure. Finally, Larson-Miller analysis proved that the tube was subjected to temperature estimated from 577.28°C - 601°C, which was higher than the tube design temperature, i.e., 483°C. Thus the root cause failure was the use of coals with low ash fusion temperature that lead to the formation of clinker at primary superheater region.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-87
Number of pages7
JournalMalaysian Journal of Microscopy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jan 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology
  • Instrumentation

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