how changes in temperature & strain rate can induce ductile to brittle transitions in metals & polymers?

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  • 1 decade ago
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    The effects of temperature on metal toughness can be critical in many applications. For instance,

    it is hypothesized that the sinking of the Titanic ocean liner might have been averted if the steel

    in the hull had had greater low-temperature ductility. Tests on hull samples from the Titanic

    retrieved in recent years indicate that the steel had a high sulfur content, which caused it to

    become brittle at temperatures as high as -1 deg C, which is substantially above the freezing

    point of salt water. As a result, when the Titanic struck the iceberg, the steel in its hull

    fractured rather than deformed, causing the fatal gash. If the metal had just buckled, it is

    possible the ship would not have sunk. These properties were not well-understood or appreciated

    until the 1940's.

    As a matter of fact, this property has even co-starred in a 1951 movie with Jimmy Stewart and Marlene

    Dietrich titled "No Highway in the Sky". It comes on TV periodically and is the story of a

    metallurgist who learns that low-temperature induced metal fatigue is causing the mysterious

    crashes of a new airliner. It is based on the book "No Highway" by Nevil Shute, published in

    1948.

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