Explore this topic

Overview of Liquid Metal Embrittlement (LME)

Liquid Metal Embrittlement (LME), also referred to as liquid metal cracking (LMC), is an insidious form of cracking that occurs when molten metals come into contact with susceptible materials. The liquid metal gets absorbed into the material, causing its bond strength to decrease and cracking along its grain boundaries. LME most commonly occurs in austenitic stainless steels, but it can afflict other copper, nickel, and aluminum alloys.

If susceptible equipment is exposed to molten metals, the cracking rates can be incredibly rapid and failure can occur within seconds of exposure. Zinc and mercury are particularly hazardous. For example, molten zinc from galvanized steel parts or inorganic zinc coatings has been known to drip down on stainless steel equipment and LME. Mercury contamination in crude oils has also been known to cause LME in crude overhead condensers, depropanizers, and debutanizers.

The best way to prevent LME is to ensure that liquid metals never have an opportunity to come into contact with vulnerable metals. If metallic coatings or barriers are being used in a facility, be aware of the portential hazards and plan accordingly.

Is this definition incomplete? You can help by contributing to it.

Share this Topic

Related Topics

Amine Stress Corrosion Cracking (SCC) Ammonia Stress Corrosion Cracking Brittle Fracture Carburization Caustic Stress Corrosion Cracking (Caustic Embrittlement) Cavitation Chloride Stress Corrosion Cracking Cooling Water Corrosion Corrosion Fatigue Corrosion Under Insulation (CUI) Cracking Decarburization Embrittlement Erosion Corrosion Fatigue (Material) Graphitization High Temperature Hydrogen Attack (HTHA) Hydrochloric (HCl) Acid Corrosion Hydrofluoric (HF) Acid Corrosion Hydrogen Blistering Hydrogen Embrittlement Hydrogen Induced Cracking (HIC) Hydrogen Stress Cracking Metal Dusting Microbiologically Induced Corrosion (MIC) Naphthenic Acid Corrosion (NAC) Phosphoric Acid Corrosion Polythionic Acid Stress Corrosion Cracking (PASCC) Spheroidization (Softening) Stress Assisted Corrosion Stress-Oriented Hydrogen Induced Cracking (SOHIC) Sulfidation Corrosion Sulfuric Acid Corrosion Thermal Fatigue Vibration-Induced Fatigue Wet H2S Damage
Articles about Liquid Metal Embrittlement (LME)
    News related to Liquid Metal Embrittlement (LME)

      Inspectioneering Journal

      Explore over 20 years of articles written by our team of subject matter experts.

      Company Directory

      Find relevant products, services, and technologies.

      Talent Solutions

      Discover job opportunities that match your skillset.

      Case Studies

      Learn from the experience of others in the industry.

      Event Calendar

      Find upcoming conferences, training sessions, online events, and more.

      Industry News

      Stay up-to-date with the latest inspection and asset integrity management news.


      Read short articles and insights authored by industry experts.


      Commonly used asset integrity management and inspection acronyms.


      Downloadable eBooks, Asset Intelligence Reports, checklists, white papers, and more.


      Watch educational and informative videos directly related to your profession.

      Expert Interviews

      Inspectioneering's archive of interviews with industry subject matter experts.