Leak-Before-Break (LBB) has been applied in various industries for decades, and this paper explores using it for a new application. In the refining industry, various process units contain hydrogen at elevated temperatures where high temperature hydrogen attack (HTHA) can occur. This mechanism involves the reaction between hydrogen and carbides to form methane, but also the diffusion of hydrogen occurs in the steel. Under certain temperature and hydrogen partial pressures, the methane formation can cause grain boundary cavitation which leads to fissuring and eventually macroscopic cracking. Generally one designs to avoid such cracking from occurring following the so-called “Nelson Curves” contained in API RP 941; however, in recent years it has been found that non-stress relieved carbon steels are susceptible to HTHA below the original API 941 curve. As a result, the refining industry has experienced a number of leaks in piping and vessels. This paper presents some developmental efforts to apply LBB to non-stress relieved seamless carbon steel piping girth welds susceptible to (HTHA) cracking in refinery applications. Much of this approach builds on analyses, results, and experience from the commercial nuclear industry LBB efforts over the last 30 years. This paper will discuss the results of both mechanical testing as well as detailed modelling efforts to evaluate LBB technology to this new application for circumferential cracks, which to date implies that LBB may be applicable to seamless pipe girth welds. Cracks in tees or other components were not addressed in this work. Axial cracks in seam welds are not addressed in this work.

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