Published: February 10, 2018 | Last updated: July 5, 2023

What Does Embrittlement Mean?

Embrittlement is the loss of a material’s ability to be deformed without breaking. It is commonly used in the context of metals, but plastic, asphalt and other materials can also suffer embrittlement.

The deterioration of pipes and other products through embrittlement may be dealt with using trenchless rehabilitation techniques.

Trenchlesspedia Explains Embrittlement

Time takes its toll on everything, including underground pipes. One of the potential hazards to metal pipes is something known as embrittlement. When a material becomes embrittled, it is more likely to break than to bend. It has less flexibility, elasticity or plasticity.

Embrittlement can happen to metals for several reasons. Hydrogen embrittlement is the result of hydrogen getting into the metal at some point. This may occur during welding or hydroplating, as a by-product of corrosion, and even through the use of corrosion protection techniques. Certain types of metals, such as high-strength steels or titanium alloys, are more susceptible. Strain aging is another possible cause of metal embrittlement.

Plastics also may become embrittled. The loss of plasticizers through aging or overheating can cause this condition.

Timely inspection of underground pipes can reveal this vulnerability. Embrittlement is one of many issues that arise in the trenchless construction industry.

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