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Hydrogen EmbrittlementHydrogen embrittlement (HE) is a process resulting in a decrease in the fracture toughness or ductility of a metal due to the presence of atomic hydrogen. In addition to pure hydrogen gas as a direct source for the absorption of atomic hydrogen, the damaging effect can manifest itself from other hydrogen-containing gas species such as hydrogen sulfide (H2S), hydrogen chloride (HCl), and hydrogen bromide (HBr) environments. It has been known that H2S environment may result in a much more severe condition of embrittlement than pure hydrogen gas (H2) for certain types of alloys at similar conditions of stress and gas pressure. The reduction of fracture loads can occur at levels well below the yield strength of the material. Hydrogen embrittlement is usually manifest in terms of singular sharp cracks, in contrast to the extensive branching observed for stress corrosion cracking. The initial crack openings and the local deformation associated with crack propagation may be so small that they are difficult to detect except in special nondestructive examinations. Cracks due to HE can grow rapidly with little macroscopic evidence of mechanical deformation in materials that are normally quite ductile. This Technical Memorandum presents a comprehensive review of experimental data for the effects of gaseous Hydrogen Environment Embrittlement (HEE) for several types of metallic materials. Common material screening methods are used to rate the hydrogen degradation of mechanical properties that occur while the material is under an applied stress and exposed to gaseous hydrogen as compared to air or helium, under slow strain rates (SSR) testing. Due to the simplicity and accelerated nature of these tests, the results expressed in terms of HEE index are not intended to necessarily represent true hydrogen service environment for long-term exposure, but rather to provide a practical approach for material screening, which is a useful concept to qualitatively evaluate the severity of hydrogen embrittlement. The effects of hydrogen gas on mechanical properties such as tensile strength, ductility, fracture, low and high cycle fatigue, crack growth rate, and creep rupture are analyzed with respect to the general trends established from the HEE index values. It is observed that the severity of HE effects is also influenced by environmental factors such as pressure, temperature, and hydrogen gas purity. The severity of HE effects is also influenced by material factors such as surface finish, heat treatment, and product forms, compositions, grain direction, and crystal orientations.
Document ID
Document Type
Technical Memorandum (TM)
Jonathan A. Lee
(Marshall Space Flight Center Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, United States)
Woods, Stephen
(Jacobs (United States) Dallas, Texas, United States)
Date Acquired
May 2, 2016
Publication Date
April 1, 2016
Subject Category
Metals And Metallic Materials
Report/Patent Number
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.
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