Corrosion Failure

Case Study: Establishing The Cause Of Corrosion Failure Of a Diesel Injector Sleeve.


An investigation was carried out on the corrosion of a copper diesel injector sleeve to:

  • to confirm the suspicion that the source of the corrosive agent was a commercial fuel additive which was added in error,
  • to determine the presence or otherwise of this additive in the coolant system of the failed engine,
  • to establish how much additive was present in the coolant system, and
  • to establish a timeframe for the corrosion event.



The Findings:


  • High levels of ammonia were found in the coolant water, consistent with the presence of the fuel additive. The corrosion scale on the failed injector sleeve also contained traces of a compound found in the fuel additive.  It was concluded that the additive was present in the coolant system.


  • According to the concentration of ammonia found, the amount of fuel additive in the coolant system could be estimated.


  • Taking into account the time required for the decomposition of the additive and the etching rates of copper by ammonia, the overall timeframe for the component failure was then estimated.


  • Knowing the timeframe of the failure, it was then established which workshop was responsible for the error.

The failed diesel injector sleeve:

“Understanding from Knowledge” (Γνῶθι Mαθών) – means that no problem goes unexplained.