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Warm Pre-Strain: Strengthening the Metastable 304L Austenitic Stainless Steel without Compromising Its Hydrogen Embrittlement Resistance


Plastic pre-strains were applied to the metastable 304L austenitic stainless steel at both room temperature (20 °C) and higher temperatures (i.e., 50, 80 and 100 °C), and then the hydrogen embrittlement (HE) susceptibility of the steel was evaluated by cathodically hydrogen-charging and tensile testing. The 20 °C pre-strain greatly strengthened the steel, but simultaneously significantly increased the HE susceptibility of the steel, since α′ martensite was induced by the pre-strain, causing the pre-existence of α′ martensite, which provided “highways” for hydrogen to transport deep into the steel during the hydrogen-charging. Although the warm pre-strains did not strengthen the steel as significantly as the 20 °C pre-strain, they retained the HE resistance of the steel. This is because the higher temperatures, particularly 80 and 100 °C, suppressed the α′ martensite transformation during the pre-straining. Pre-strain at a temperature slightly higher than room temperature has a potential to strengthen the metastable 304L austenitic stainless steel without compromising its initial HE resistance.

Funding source: Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities of China (2015QNA20).

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