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Formation Criterion of Hydrogen-Induced Cracking in Steel Based on Fracture Mechanics


A new criterion for hydrogen-induced cracking (HIC) that includes both the embrittlement effect and the loading effect of hydrogen was obtained theoretically. The surface cohesive energy and plastic deformation energy are reduced by hydrogen atoms at the interface; thus, the fracture toughness is reduced according to fracture mechanics theory. Both the pressure effect and the embrittlement effect mitigate the critical condition required for crack instability extension. During the crack instability expansion, the hydrogen in the material can be divided into two categories: hydrogen atoms surrounding the crack and hydrogen molecules in the crack cavity. The loading effect of hydrogen was verified by experiments, and the characterization methods for the stress intensity factor under hydrogen pressure in a linear elastic model and an elastoplastic model were analyzed using the finite-element simulation method. The hydrogen pressure due to the aggregation of hydrogen molecules inside the crack cavity regularly contributed to the stress intensity factor. The embrittlement of hydrogen was verified by electrolytic charging hydrogen experiments. According to the change in the atomic distribution during crack propagation in a molecular dynamics simulation, the transition from ductile to brittle fracture and the reduction in the fracture toughness were due to the formation of crack tip dislocation regions suppressed by hydrogen. The HIC formation mechanism is both the driving force of crack propagation due to the hydrogen gas pressure and the resisting force reduced by hydrogen atoms.


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