Inspectioneering
Explore this topic

Overview of Thermal Fatigue

Thermal fatigue is a specific type of fatigue failure mechanism that is induced by cyclic stresses from repetitive fluctuations in the temperature of equipment. The degree of damage is affected by the magnitude and frequency of the temperature swings. Damage typically appears in the form of one or more cracks at the surface of the component. Unless remedied, cracks may propagate through the material eventually leading to failure.

All materials of construction and several types of units and equipment can be affected by thermal fatigue. A few include:

  • Hot and cold stream mixing points
  • Areas where condensate and steam systems contact each other
  • Coke drum shells and skirts
  • Steam generating equipment
  • High temperature superheater and reheater tubes

Prevention, Inspection & Mitigation

The best way to prevent failure due to thermal fatigue is to minimize thermal stresses and cycling in the design and operating of equipment. Reducing stress raisers, controlling temperature fluctuations (especially during shutdown and start-up), and reducing thermal gradients can help prevent thermal fatigue. Taking proactive measures to prevent cool liquid from touching hot boundary walls, e.g. installing liners or sleeves, can also prove effective. This event occurs as products travel downstream from one processing unit to the next where successive units may operate at various temperatures.

Unfortunately, thermal fatigue cannot always be prevented.  As a result, there are several ways to inspect for and mitigate thermal fatigue, including:

 

Is this definition incomplete? You can help by contributing to it.

Share this Topic

Related Topics

Amine Stress Corrosion Cracking (SCC) Ammonia Stress Corrosion Cracking Brittle Fracture Carburization Caustic Stress Corrosion Cracking (Caustic Embrittlement) Cavitation Chloride Stress Corrosion Cracking Cooling Water Corrosion Corrosion Fatigue Corrosion Under Insulation (CUI) Cracking Decarburization Embrittlement Erosion Corrosion Fatigue (Material) Graphitization High Temperature Hydrogen Attack (HTHA) Hydrochloric (HCl) Acid Corrosion Hydrofluoric (HF) Acid Corrosion Hydrogen Assisted Cracking Hydrogen Blistering Hydrogen Embrittlement Hydrogen Induced Cracking (HIC) Hydrogen Stress Cracking Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) Corrosion Microbiologically Induced Corrosion (MIC) Naphthenic Acid Corrosion (NAC) Phosphoric Acid Corrosion Polythionic Acid Stress Corrosion Cracking (PASCC) Spheroidization Stress Assisted Corrosion Stress Corrosion Cracking (SCC) Stress-Oriented Hydrogen Induced Cracking (SOHIC) Sulfidation Corrosion Sulfuric Acid Corrosion Temper Embrittlement Vibration Fatigue Wet H2S Cracking
Articles about Thermal Fatigue
  • January/February 2015 Inspectioneering Journal
    By Pamela Hamblin at Thielsch Engineering, Inc.

    Avoiding cracking under pressure when managing high-energy piping systems is common subject matter in the power industry. Just as high-energy piping can give way to pressure, stress and fatigue, so can the people in charge of operating them when trying to determine what to inspect, where to inspect, and what to do with those inspection results once they have them.

  • May/June 2014 Inspectioneering Journal
    By Fernando Vicente at ABB

    Ensuring the integrity of process piping systems in the Oil & Gas industry (specifically those related to the ASME Code B31.3) is a key issue with respect to the process, business, safety, and the environment. However, in the current cost reduction environment, some companies are adopting a very risky strategy for piping systems where maintenance and inspection tasks are reduced and eliminated indiscriminately, without considering the relative importance of piping for the process.

    Companies
    Videos related to Thermal Fatigue
      White Papers related to Thermal Fatigue
        Downloads & Resources related to Thermal Fatigue
          Events related to Thermal Fatigue
            News related to Thermal Fatigue

              Inspectioneering Journal

              Explore over 20 years of articles written by our team of subject matter experts.

              Company Directory

              Find relevant products, services, and technologies.

              Job Postings

              Discover job opportunities that match your skillset.

              Case Studies

              Learn from the experience of others in the industry.

              Event Calendar

              Find upcoming conferences, training sessions, online events, and more.

              Industry News

              Stay up-to-date with the latest inspection and asset integrity management news.

              Blog

              Read short articles and insights authored by industry experts.

              Acronyms

              Commonly used asset integrity management and inspection acronyms.

              Asset Intelligence Reports

              Download brief primers on various asset integrity management topics.

              Videos

              Watch educational and informative videos directly related to your profession.

              Expert Interviews

              Inspectioneering's archive of interviews with industry subject matter experts.