Material Problems of Turbines

Material Problems of Turbines


Creep, known also as cold flow, is the permanent deformation that increases with time under constant load or stress. It results due to long time exposure to large external mechanical stress with in limit of yielding and is more severe in material that are subjected to heat for long time. The rate of deformation is a function of the material’s properties, exposure time, exposure temperature and the applied structural load. Creep is a very important phenomenon if we are using materials at high temperature. Creep is very important in power industry and it is of the highest importance in designing of jet engines. For many relatively short-life creep situations (e.g. turbine blades in military aircraft), time to rupture is the dominant design consideration. Of course, for its determination, creep tests must be conducted to the point of failure; these are termed creep rupture tests.

Erosion Corrosion

Erosion corrosion is the cumulative damage induced by electrochemical corrosion reactions and mechanical effects from relative motion between the electrolyte and the corroding surface. Erosion can also occur in combination with other forms of degradation, such as corrosion. This is referred to as erosion-corrosion. Erosion corrosion is a material degradation process due to the combined effect of corrosion and wear. Nearly all flowing or turbulent corrosive media can cause erosion corrosion. The mechanism can be described as follows:

  • mechanical erosion of the material, or protective (or passive) oxide layer on its surface,
  • enhanced corrosion of the material, if the corrosion rate of the material depends on the thickness of the oxide layer.

Erosion corrosion is found in the systems such as piping, valves, pumps, nozzles, heat exchangers and turbines. Wear is a mechanical material degradation process occurring on rubbing or impacting surfaces, while corrosion involves chemical or electrochemical reactions of the material. Corrosion may accelerate wear and wear may accelerate corrosion.

Steam Oxidation

Steam oxidation behavior is directly linked to implementing ultra-supercritical steam power generation for improved efficiencies and reduced CO2 emissions. Higher temperature means higher efficiency; however, higher corrosion rates occur in a steam atmosphere when ferritic, ferritic‐martensitic, or medium Cr–Ni steels are used.

The materials that were developed over 50–60 years ago are no longer currently suitable for ultra-supercritical regimes due to poor corrosion resistance and inadequate high‐temperature creep and strength properties. These technologies require advanced austenitic steels and nickel (Ni)‐based alloys with superior steam oxidation resistance.


In materials science, fatigue is the weakening of a material caused by cyclic loading that results in progressive, brittle and localized structural damage. Once a crack has initiated, each loading cycle will grow the crack a small amount, even when repeated alternating or cyclic stresses are of an intensity considerably below the normal strength. The stresses could be due to vibration or thermal cycling. Fatigue damage is caused by:

  • simultaneous action of cyclic stress,
  • tensile stress (whether directly applied or residual),
  • plastic strain.

If any one of these three is not present, a fatigue crack will not initiate and propagate. The majority of engineering failures are caused by fatigue.

Although the fracture is of a brittle type, it may take some time to propagate, depending on both the intensity and frequency of the stress cycles. Nevertheless, there is very little, if any, warning before failure if the crack is not noticed. The number of cycles required to cause fatigue failure at a particular peak stress is generally quite large, but it decreases as the stress is increased. For some mild steels, cyclical stresses can be continued indefinitely provided the peak stress (sometimes called fatigue strength) is below the endurance limit value. The type of fatigue of most concern in nuclear power plants is thermal fatigue. Thermal fatigue can arise from thermal stresses produced by cyclic changes in temperature. Large components like the pressurizer, reactor vessel, and reactor system piping are subject to cyclic stresses caused by temperature variations during reactor startup, change in power level, and shutdown.


Materials Science:

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See above:
Material Problems