Metallurgical Investigation (SEM)- Damaged Compressor Bearing
(55x) showing pitting features in the frosted areas.

Determining Cause of Surface Degradation on an Air Compressor Bearing

Surface degradation was found on an air compressor Tin-copper alloy bearing. The degradation consisted of pitting, grooving and metal loss that resulted in a frosted surface appearance. Metallographic and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) techniques were used to determine the cause.

There was no evidence of corrosion or mechanical damage identified. Recrystallization of the bearing contact surfaces in the degraded regions, coupled with the surface pitting and grooving, indicating the degradation resulted from electric discharge damage.


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Tom O’Donnell, PE
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