Metallurgical Transactions

, Volume 5, Issue 11, pp 2439–2450 | Cite as

Intergranular embrittlement of iron-carbon alloys by impurities

  • J. B. Rellick
  • C. J. McMahon
Mechanical Behavior


It is shown that plain Fe-C alloys can be embrittled by certain heat treatments if they are doped with Sb, Sn, As or P. Embrittlement occurs when these elements are rejected from precipitating carbides during cooling, and it results from a piling-up of the elements ahead of the carbide and the concomitant lowering of cohesion along the carbide-ferrite interface. It is a transient (non-equilibrium) condition and disappears upon continued holding at elevated temperatures. Embrittlement by equilibrium segregation of these impurities in unalloyed ferrite apparently does not occur. A model for this transient embrittlement is proposed and tested. This model is relevant to the phenomenon of “500°F” embrittlement in alloy steels, and it is also consistent with most aspects of temper embrittlement.


Carbide Ferrite Austenite Metallurgical Transaction Cementite 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© American Society for Metals, The Melallurgical Society of AIME 1974

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. B. Rellick
    • 1
  • C. J. McMahon
    • 2
  1. 1.Experimental StationE. I. DuPont Co.Wilmington
  2. 2.Dept. of Metallurgy and Materials ScienceUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphia

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