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DETERMINATION OF THE CAUSE OF FAILURE OF ROTOR SHAFT OF AIR COMPRESSOR MOTOR, SHOAIBA PHASE-I PLANT1

Anees U. Malik, Mohammad Al-Hajri and Fahd Al-Muaili


Research and Development Center Saline Water Conversion Corporation PO Box 8328, Al-Jubail 31951, KSA E-mail : <rdc@swcc.gov.sa >

INTRODUCTION In his letter No. 2320/1792 dated 20.10.1424H, the Maintenance Administration Manager, Shoaiba Plant, informed the Manager, R&D Center about the failure of compressor motors rotor shaft and requested RDC to investigate the failure. A team of experts from Corrosion Department visited Shoaiba Plant on 11.11.1424H and inspected the failed compressor motor. Subsequently, the R&D Center decided to take up the task of failure investigation. BACKGROUND The compressor motor had the following specifications: Belt Driven. Type: 7R-HAD 3555, 200 KW, 380V, 358A, 60 Hz, 1780 rpm, 0.89 PF, Insulation class-F and MFR-Brook Crompton. The compressor motors rotor shaft failed at drive while starting. The failure appeared in the form of fracture. A similar incident happened for an other compressor motor. Rotor shaft cracked at the same place in both the incidences, i.e., at stator frame edge of the drive end near the inner bearing. PHYSICAL EXAMINATION Figures 1 and 2 show rotor shaft in as received condition. Figure 3 shows a magnified view of the rotor shaft. The rotor shaft is comprised of two parts small diameter

Issued as Troubleshooting Technical Report No. 3804/04011 in May 2004.

cylinder which is joined to a larger diameter cylinder through a collar. Figure 4 shows a close view of the section of rotor shaft at drive end where fracture actually occurred. The upper surface of the section shows fatigue fracture marks and sign of cracking (away from fatigue). On the same surface, the other half is relatively plain or smooth. A deep circular mark can be seen on this surface along with two deep-cut marks involving loss of metal which is more clear in the section photographed after cleaning (Fig. 5). Figure 6 shows closer view of the beach marks and Figure 7 shows a deep-cut at the edge of the section with metal loss. Figure 8 shows void marks at the width of circular section. The different locations in the rotor shaft from where the samples are sectioned for metallographic, SEM and EDX studies are depicted in Fig. 9. CHEMICAL COMPOSITION Chemical composition of the material samples collected from outer surface and core of the rotor shaft was determined by inductively coupled plasma (ICP) technique. The results are summarized in Table 1. The results indicate that the material is plain carbon steel. HARDNESS MEASUREMENTS The hardness values of the rotor shaft samples in Rockwell B scale and Brinell H scale are summarized in Table 2. The hardness of the sample taken from near and far from failure zone are around 90-91 HRB (190-195 BHN) which indicates a tempered martensitic structure. The samples collected from location at failure site have a hardness around 23 HRc (243 BHN) which is typically that of tempered martensitic steel with some retained martensite. METALLOGRAPHIC STUDIES Figure 10 shows a micrograph of a sample sectioned from shaft (large diameter) at a location faraway from failure. Coarsened tempered martensitic structure can be seen with some untempered martensite. A micrograph of the same section at the edge shows a fine tempered martensitic structure (Fig. 11). The microstructure of the same section between case and core show a mixed coarsened tempered martensitic (core) and fine tempered martensitic (case) structure, respectively (Fig. 12). A large void in the

case and core region is also noted (Fig. 13).

The microstructure of the sample

sectioned far away from failure but in reverse direction shows a coarsened pearlitic structure (Fig. 14) and at the edge, a fine tempered structure (Fig. 15). Another void can also be seen at the case-core region with core having a duplex fine and coarse martensitic structure (Fig. 16) with dispersion of carbides (Fig.17). In general, at a location far away from failure (indicated in Fig. 9), a fine tempered martensitic structure depicting hardened structure at the edge/case is exhibited whereas core of the shaft is relatively soft having coarsened tempered structure. The matrix of the shaft exhibits a non-homogeneous tempered martensitic structure containing coarse and fine grains. Additionally, the matrix contains retained martensite voids and carbide dispersion. In such condition, a highly strained hardened structure is produced which induces internal stresses in the shaft structure. This stressed structure is vulnerable to failure by fatigue under dynamic conditions. The microstructure of the sample (Sample 4A) sectioned longitudinally from failure (rough side) shows a coarsened ferritic-pearlitic structure; transgranular cracking originated from the core can be clearly seen (Fig. 18 and 19). The photomicrograph of the outer rough surfaces at the failure show the presence of a big void (Fig. 20). The microstructure of the smooth failure surface shows a coarsened ferritic-pearlitic structure (Fig. 21). The microstructure of the sample 4B sectioned longitudinally from smooth surface shows stringers of MnS inclusions (Fig. 22). The stringers appeared to act as stress raiser and may be responsible for crack initiation and ultimate failure by fatigue propagation. The microstructural studies reveal ambiguity in the core and the case structures by exhibiting different patterns. The core showing a coarsened structure while case having a fine structure. The reason most probably could be improper heating of the component during manufacturing or heat treatment given to the shaft during operation or maintenance. EDX STUDIES The EDX profile of rotor shaft of air compressor motor, far away from failure (small diameter), shows predominantly the presence of iron (Fig. 23). The SEM picture of the sample, sectioned far away from failure (large diameter), at a location between core

and edge shows the presence of a void (Fig. 24). Around the void, there is white deposition which is rich in Fe, Mn, Si and S. Ca is present in low concentration (Fig. 25). The source of Ca appears to be contaminants from polishing. The EDAX profile of a sample sectioned from failed area of rotor shaft shows the presence of Fe, S and Mn at the tip of transgranular crack (Fig. 26). As the surface of the crack indicates a fatigue fracture, S appears to play an important role in initiation of the crack from stringer containing MnS. CONCLUSIONS 1. The microstructural studies of the sections from the different locations of the rotor shaft indicated that the surface (case and edge) was harder than the core. 2. The microstructure of the sections from rough surface of the failure zone shows transgranular cracking. 3. The inhomogeneity in the core and case structures is attributed to improper heat treatment given to component during manufacturing or application of heating during operation or maintenance. 4. The presence of a non-homogeneous tempered martensitic structure consisting of coarse and fine grains in the matrix of shaft material along with retained martensite, voids and carbide dispersion had produced a highly strained hardened structure. This stressed structure is vulnerable to failure by fatigue under dynamic conditions. 5. The microstructure of the sample sectioned longitudinally from smooth failure zone showed stringers of manganese sulfide (MnS) inclusions. 6. The MnS stringers appear to act as stress raiser and might be responsible for crack initiation under dynamic stresses and ultimate failure of the rotor shaft at drive end.

7.

The failure of the rotor shaft is contributed by two factors namely, internal stresses concentration and the presence of MnS stringers in the structure of materials.

RECOMMENDATIONS Presence of internal stresses and MnS inclusions appear to contribute to the failure of rotor shaft by fatigue failure. Heat treatment of the shaft to relieve stresses is a solution but may not be practicable so also the removal of MnS inclusions. We recommend the use of a stainless steel like 316L SS which can be a suitable choice for compressor motors rotor shaft material due to its superior fatigue and erosion resistance properties.

Table 1. Analysis of metallic samples Parameter Manganese Chromium Nickel Silica Molybdenum Iron Unit Percentage -do-do-do-do-doSample I (From core) 0.7 0.1 <0.1 <0.1 ND ~99 Sample II (From outer surface) 0.9 <0.1 ND 0.1 ND ~99

Remarks : The above analysis was done on ICP

Table 2. Hardness of material from rotor shaft S. No. 1 2 3 4 5 Sample # 1 2 3 3A 4B Location Hardness Rockwell Brinell, HB BH 90.5 92.0 91.4 92.4 190 195 193 195 243

Far away from failure (small diam) Near the failure (core, large diam) Far away from failure (core, large diam) Far away from failure (reverse side) Smooth surface failure (longitudinal section)

Figure 1. Photograph of a compressors rotor shaft in as received condition

Figure 2. Photograph of a compressors rotor shaft in as received condition

Figure 3. Magnified view of the rotor shaft in as received condition

Figure 4. Closer view of the section of rotor shaft at drive end where fracture actually occurred

Figure 5. Closer view of rotor shaft at drive end where fatigue fracture occurred (after cleaning)

Figure 6. Photograph of the rotor shaft at drive end showing beach marks at the failure zone

Figure 7. A deep cut mark at the failure zone of the rotor shaft at drive end (after cleaning)

Figure 8. Void marks at the width of circular section of the rotor shaft at drive end (after cleaning)

Sample # 1 2 3 3A 4 A- Longitudinal direction 4 B- Longitudinal direction

Position Far away from failure (small dia) near the failure Faraway from failure (Big dia) Faraway from failure (Reverse direction) From rough failure face From the smooth failure face

Figure 9. Marking of different locations in the rotor shaft at which the samples were sectioned for studies

Figure 10. Photomicrograph of a sample sectioned from shaft at a location far away from failure showing coarsened martensitic structure

Figure 11. Photomicrograph of a sample sectioned from shaft at another location (edge) far away from failure showing fine tempered martensitic structure

Figure 12. Photomicrograph of a section covering case and core at a location far away from failure

Figure 13. Photomicrograph showing presence of a void in case and core regions at a location far away from failure

Figure 14. Photomicrograph of the sample sectioned far away from failure but in reverse direction showing coarsened ferritic-pearlitic structure X100

Figure 15. Photomicrograph of the sample (at the edge) sectioned far away from failure but in reverse direction showing fine tempered structure and dispersion of carbides X100

Figure 16. Photomicrograph of the sample (at the case and core) sectioned far away from failure but in reverse direction showing a duplex coarse and fine martensitic structure X100

Figure 17. Photomicrograph of the sample (at the case and core) sectioned far away from failure but in reverse direction showing dispersion of carbides X100

Crack

Figure 18. Photomicrograph of the sample sectioned longitudinally from failure surface (rough) showing transgranular cracking X100

Crack Figure 19. Magnified microstructure of the sample sectioned from failure surface (rough) showing transgranular cracking X500

Figure 20.

Micrograph of the outer rough surface showing presence of a big pit

Figure 21. Micrograph of smooth failure surface showing coarsened ferritic and pearlitic matrix X 100

Figure 22. Micrograph of smooth failure surface showing stringers of MnS inclusions X 50

cps 100 Fe

80

60

40

Fe 20 Fe Si 0 0 5 10 15 20 Energy (keV) Mn

Figure 23. EDX profile of a cross-section of rotor shaft of air compressor (far away from failure small diameter) showing predominantly the presence of iron

cps 100

Fe

80

60

40

Fe 20 Fe Si 0 0 5 10 15 20 Energy (keV) Mn

Figure 24. Scanning electron micrograph of the sample at a location between case and core showing the presence of a void

cps 40

Fe

30

20 Fe Si

Mn

10 S Ca 0 0 5 10 15 20 Energy (keV) Fe

Figure 25 EDX profile of region containing white deposits at a location between core and edge showing presence of Fe, Mn, S and Si in high concentrations

cps Fe 30

S 20

Mn

10

Fe 0 0 5

Fe

10

15

20 Energy (keV)

Figure 26. EDAX profile of a sample sectioned from failed area of rotor shaft showing the presence of Fe, S and Mn at the tip of transgranular crack