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Effect of Microstructural and Environmental Variables on Ductility of Austenitic Stainless Steels


Austenitic stainless steels are used extensively in harsh environments, including for high-pressure gaseous hydrogen service. However, the tensile ductility of this class of materials is very sensitive to materials and environmental variables. While tensile ductility is generally insufficient to qualify a material for hydrogen service, ductility is an effective tool to explore microstructural and environmental variables and their effects on hydrogen susceptibility, to inform understanding of the mechanisms of hydrogen effects in metals, and to provide insight to microstructural variables that may improve relative performance. In this study, hydrogen precharging was used to simulate high-pressure hydrogen environments to evaluate hydrogen effects on tensile properties. Several austenitic stainless steels were considered, including both metastable and stable alloys. Room temperature and subambient temperature tensile properties were evaluated with three different internal hydrogen contents for type 304L and 316L austenitic stainless steels and one hydrogen content for XM-11. Significant ductility loss was observed for both metastable and stable alloys, suggesting the stability of the austenitic phase is not sufficient to characterize the effects of hydrogen. Internal hydrogen does influence the character of deformation, which drives local damage accumulation and ultimately fracture for both metastable and stable alloys. While a quantitative description of hydrogen-assisted fracture in austenitic stainless steels remains elusive, these observations underscore the importance of the hydrogen-defect interactions and the accumulation of damage at deformation length scales.

Related subjects: Safety
Countries: United Kingdom

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Effect of microstructural and environmental variables on ductility of austenitic stainless steels

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