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During a routine start-up exercise of a standby service water pump, a threaded coupling that joined sections of a 41.5 ft (12.7 m) long pump shaft experienced fracture. The pump was taken out of service and examined to determine the cause of fracture. It was apparent early in the examination that the fracture involved hydrogen stress cracking. However, the nature of the corrosive attack suggested an interaction between the threaded coupling and biological organisms living in the freshwater environment of the pump shaft. The organisms had colonized on the coupling, changing the local environment and creating conditions favorable to hydrogen stress cracking. This paper describes the analysis of the fracture of the coupling and provides an example of how biologically induced corrosion can result in unexpected fracture of a relatively basic machine part.

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Corrosion: Microbiologically-Influenced Corrosion, ASM Failure Analysis Case Histories: Failure Modes and Mechanisms, ASM International, 2019

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