Failure Analysis of Fuel System Assemblies
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Fuel system assemblies used on recreational watercraft failed after a short time in service in a seawater environment. Examination of the assemblies revealed significant degradation of the polyacetal connectors of the wire subassemblies. Optical and microscopic evaluations indicated the complete loss of connector material implying decomposition of the resin, along with mud-cracking and a rough surface morphology signifying chemical attack. An elemental analysis performed on both an intact connector and degraded connector suggested a potential chemical agent in the form of zinc chloride. At elevated temperatures, concentrated zinc chloride solutions are known to decompose polyacetal resins. The source of the zinc chloride was established as corrosion products that resulted during the dezincification of the internal brass connector through exposure to saltwater in the application.