Hydrogen embrittlement of steel pipelines during transients


Blending hydrogen into natural gas pipelines is a recent alternative adopted for hydrogen transportation as a mixture with natural gas. In this paper, hydrogen embrittlement of steel pipelines originally designed for natural gas transportation is investigated. Solubility, permeation and diffusion phenomena of hydrogen molecules into the crystalline lattice structure of the pipeline material are followed up based on transient evolution of internal pressure applied on the pipeline wall. The transient regime is created through changes of gas demand depending on daily consumptions. As a result, the pressure may reach excessive values that lead to the acceleration of hydrogen solubility and its diffusion through the pipeline wall. Furthermore, permeation is an important parameter to determine the diffusion amount of hydrogen inside the pipeline wall resulting in the embrittlement of the material. The numerical obtained results have shown that using pipelines designed for natural gas conduction to transport hydrogen is a risky choice. Actually, added to overpressure and great fluctuations during transients that may cause fatigue and damage the structure, also the latter pressure evolution is likely to induce the diffusion phenomena of hydrogen molecules into the lattice of the structure leading to brittle the pipe material. The numerical simulation reposes on solving partial differential equations describing transient gas flow in pipelines coupled with the diffusion equation for mass transfer. The model is built using the finite elements based software COMSOL Multiphysics considering different cases of pipe material; API X52 (base metal and nutrided) and API X80 steels. Obtained results allowed tracking the evolution with time of hydrogen concentration through the pipeline internal wall based on the pressure variation due to transient gas flow. Such observation permits to estimate the amount of hydrogen diffused in the metal to avoid leakage of this flammable gas. Thus, precautions may be taken to prevent explosive risks due to hydrogen embrittlement of steel pipelines, among other effects, that can lead to alter safe conditions of gas conduction.

Countries: India; Tunisia

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