Journal of Failure Analysis and Prevention

, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 13–17 | Cite as

Stress-corrosion cracking in copper refrigerant tubing

  • J. L. McDougal
  • M. E. Stevenson
Case Histories


A metallurgical failure analysis was conducted to determine the cause of cracking in several sections of copper refrigeration tubing. The tubing in question was part of a new mechanical design, implemented to mitigate fatigue failures of solder joints that had occurred in tubing systems fabricated under the previous design. A comprehensive metallurgical evaluation revealed intergranular fracture of the copper in a region of the tubing that had been significantly cold worked during manufacture. On discovery of a source of moist ammonia in the system, associated with the location of failure, intergranular stress-corrosion cracking (SCC) was identified as the failure mechanism. A modified design, incorporating annealing of the formed copper tube section, was recommended to avoid future failures.


ammonia copper stress-corrosion cracking 


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    S.P. Lynch: “Failures of Structures and Components by Environmentally Assisted Cracking,” Eng. Fail. Anal., 1994, 1(2).Google Scholar
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    N.W. Olin: “Corrosion of Copper an Copper Alloys,” Corrosion, vol. 13, ASM Handbook, ASM International, Metals Park, OH, 1987, pp. 610–40.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© ASM International 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. L. McDougal
    • 1
  • M. E. Stevenson
    • 1
  1. 1.Metals & Materials Engineers LLCSurwanee

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