Failure of three C22000 commercial bronze rupture discs was caused by mercury embrittlement. The discs were part of flammable gas cylinder safety devices designed to fail in a ductile mode when cylinders experience higher than design pressures. The subject discs failed prematurely below design pressure in a brittle manner. Fractographic examination using SEM indicated that failure occurred intergranularly from the cylinder side. EDS analysis indicated the presence of mercury on the fracture surface and mercury was also detected using scanning auger microprobe (SAM) analysis. The mercury was accidentally introduced into the cylinders during a gas-blending operation through a contaminated blending manifold. Replacement of the contaminated manifold was recommended along with discontinued use of mercury manometers, the original source of mercury contamination.
William R. Watkins, Jr., Liquid Metal Embrittlement of Bronze Rupture Discs, Handbook of Case Histories in Failure Analysis, Vol 2, Edited By Khlefa A. Esaklul, ASM International, 1993, p 130–134, https://doi.org/10.31399/asm.fach.v02.c9001318
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