Mercury Liquid Embrittlement Failure of 5083-O Aluminum Alloy Piping
The failure mode of through-wall cracking of a butt weld in a 5083-O aluminum alloy piping system in an ethylene plant was identified as mercury liquid metal embrittlement. As a result of this finding, 226 of the more than 400 butt welds in the system were ultrasonically inspected for cracking. One additional weld was found that had been degraded by mercury. A welding team experienced in repairing mercury contaminated piping was recruited to make the repairs. Corrective action included the installation of a sulfur-impregnated charcoal mercury-removal bed and replacement of the aluminum equipment that was in operation prior to the installation of the mercury-removal bed.