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Fracture Physics and Failure Analysis

Understanding how and why things break is key to preventing breaks from occurring—or, as is needed in rock quarrying or frozen food grinding, to break them more efficiently. To help clients prevent failures and extend the lifetime of aircraft, power plants, gas pipelines, and electronics, failure analysis experts in SRI's Center for Fracture Physics use advanced methods to quantify and analyze fracture surface topography. The Center’s materials scientists, mechanical engineers, computational physicists, and corrosion experts can reconstruct the history of a crack and retroactively determine the conditions that contributed to crack formation.

Every Crack Tells a Story

SRI’s Fracture Surface Topography Analysis (FRASTA) software tool reconstructs failure events in microscopic detail and analyzes materials and structures to determine when cracks nucleated and how fast they grew. FRASTA is available under license for use in failure analysis or materials design, or for training purposes. Clients include the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Osaka Gas, and Chubu Electric Power.

Projects

Flammable Gas Testing to Improve Offshore Oil Platform Safety

Together with GexCon US, SRI is designing and conducting experiments to improve and validate tools used to minimize the risk of explosions or fires on offshore platforms.

An SRI researcher observes FRASTA images on a computer

FRASTA: Fracture Surface Topography Analysis

SRI has developed a breakthrough technology for diagnosing and predicting fatigue failure in pipelines, aircraft, bridges, power plants, and other structures using quantitative 3D fractography.