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Abstract

The silver layer on a thrust bearing face experienced electrostatic discharge attack (the bombardment of an in-line series of individual sparks onto the soft bearing face), which destroyed the integrity of the bearing surface. The electrical attack appeared as scratches to the naked eye. Macrophotography showed that the attack was more severe at one edge of each pad, resulting in deeper grooving and a buildup of deposits, mostly silver sulfides. Microstructural analysis of a cross section indicated that the interface between the silver overlay and the substrate (beryllium copper) was sound and free of voids and foreign material. Corrosion products contained a large quantity of sulfur. The probable cause of the attack was the presence of electrical current within the system, with sulfides a possible contributing factor. Elimination of residual magnetism and grounding of the rotating system at appropriate locations were recommended.

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1992. "Bearings and Gears", Handbook of Case Histories in Failure Analysis, Khlefa A. Esaklul

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