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Related to embrittlement: caustic embrittlement


Reduction or loss of ductility or toughness in a metal or plastic with little change in other mechanical properties.


A general set of phenomena whereby materials suffer a marked decrease in their ability to deform (loss of ductility) or in their ability to absorb energy during fracture (loss of toughness), with little change in other mechanical properties, such as strength and hardness. Embrittlement can be induced by a variety of external or internal factors, for example, (1) a decreasing or an increasing temperature; (2) changes in the internal structure of the material, namely, changes in crystallite (grain) size, or in the presence and distribution of alloying elements and second-phase particles; (3) the introduction of an environment which is often, but not necessarily, corrosive in nature; (4) an increasing rate of application of load or extension; and (5) the presence of surface notches.

Low-temperature embrittlement results from a competition between deformation and brittle fracture, with the latter becoming preferred at a critical temperature. For a material to be useful structurally, it is desirable that this critical temperature be below the minimum anticipated service temperature; in most cases, this is room temperature. At high temperatures, internal structural changes that lead to intergranular embrittlement can occur. Embrittlement usually occurs in the creep temperature range, a temperature at which deformation can occur under very low stresses; and the two processes are believed to be connected.

In many metals, particularly structural steels, annealing or heat treating in certain temperature ranges sensitizes the grain boundaries in such a way that intergranular embrittlement subsequently occurs during service. To reduce the brittleness, the steel undergoes an annealing treatment called tempering, which, while decreasing the strength, usually increases the toughness. The exception to this trade-off occurs when the steel is tempered at 1000°F (538°C). This can lead to a mode of intergranular fracture called temper embrittlement; such a process has led to catastrophic failures in turbines, rotors, and other high-strength steel parts. In other metals, there are less specific but similar types of embrittlement resulting from critical heat treatments. See Heat treatment (metallurgy), Tempering

Metals can fracture catastrophically when exposed to a variety of environments. These environments can range from liquid metals to aqueous and nonaqueous solutions to gases such as hydrogen.

If a thin film of a liquid metal is placed on the oxide-free surface of a solid metal, the tensile properties of the solid metal will not be affected, but the fracture behavior can be markedly different from that observed in air. Although many different liquid metals are capable of inducing embrittlement in a variety of solid metals, some of the more common couples, many of which have important engineering and design consequences, are mercury embrittlement of brass, lead embrittlement of steel, and gallium embrittlement of aluminum.

Stress corrosion cracking can occur when a metal is stressed and simultaneously exposed to an environment which may be, but is not necessarily, corrosive in nature. Both stress and environment are required; if only one of these elements is present, the metal usually displays no embrittlement. See Corrosion

Hydrogen embrittlement is a form of embrittlement often considered to be a type of stress corrosion cracking. Hydrogen atoms can enter a metal, causing severe embrittlement, again with little effect on other mechanical properties. This phenomenon was originally observed, and is most critical in, steels, but it is not documented to occur in titanium and nickel alloys, and may lead to cracking in other alloy systems as well.

Factors such as notches and the rate of application of stress can modify the response of a material to a specific type of embrittlement. In general, notches or surface flaws always enhance embrittlement, both by acting as a stress raiser and by providing a preexisting crack.

References in periodicals archive ?
Hence there is a real need for effective toughening of PET, particularly to resist embrittlement after crystallization.
Temper Embrittlement - This problem occurs on tempering in the range of 700-1100F (371-593C).
Plastomer in blends with HPP not only improved the ductility of the unirradiated films, but also greatly improved the resistance to embrittlement of the irradiated films.
Ultra 76 does not require the additional steps of "Platinum Spot welding," commonly used in conventional tantalum alloy components to reduce damage due to hydrogen embrittlement.
Portnoy comments that one existing method for producing a polypropylene resin that possesses the three attributes that are normally incompatible utilizes oils or greases as modifiers to stabilize the clear polypropylene homopolymer, a technique that minimizes radiation-induced embrittlement with excessively reduced heat deflection temperature; however, he adds, this is proprietary technology and is not available to the industry in general.
For the styrenic polymers, embrittlement after multiple ethylene oxide cycles appears to compound with time.
Hydrogen embrittlement damage affects many industries including aerospace, automotive, transportation infrastructure, rail and power generation and results in substantial direct annual costs.
Manganese within normal ranges in cast iron will exist as manganese sulfide and prevent the embrittlement that accompanies the presence of iron sulfide in the grain boundaries.
Resistance to heat aging is necessary in under-the-hood applications, because they are exposed to temperatures above 160[degrees]C for hours, resulting in oxidative embrittlement.
zinc-based metal coatings which block corrosion, increase wear resistance, eliminate hydrogen embrittlement and improve adhesion for paints and other topcoats.
Design parameters, systems, components and other equipment of the facility shall allow studying stress corrosion cracking/liquid metal embrittlement phenomena under tensile and compressive stress, and performing slow strain-rate tensile, fatigue, and fracture toughness tests with well-controllable parameters, in particular temperature, oxygen content in HLM, load and fluid flow conditions.
Exposing material to liquid nitrogen is said to help prevent melting or decomposition, or achieve embrittlement, resulting in a higher yield of particles in the desired target range, more uniform particle size distribution, higher production rates, improved product quality and enhanced process safety due to the nitrogen inertness.