Tracking hydrogen embrittlement using short fatigue crack behaviour of metals


Understanding hydrogen embrittlement phenomenon that leads to deterioration of mechanical properties of metallic components is vital for applications involving hydrogen environment. Among these, understanding the influence of hydrogen on the fatigue behaviour of metals is of great interest. Total fatigue life of a material can be divided into fatigue crack initiation and fatigue crack growth phase. While fatigue crack initiation can be linked with the propagation of short fatigue cracks, the size of which is of the order of grain size (few tens of microns), that are generally not detectable by conventional crack detection techniques applicable for the long fatigue crack growth behaviour using conventional CT specimens. Extensive literature is available on hydrogen effect on long fatigue crack growth behaviour of metals that leads to the change in crack growth rate and the threshold stress intensity factor range (ΔKth). However, it is the short fatigue crack growth behaviour that provides the fundamental understanding and correlation of the metallic microstructure with hydrogen embrittlement phenomenon. Short fatigue crack growth behaviour is characteristically different from long crack growth behaviour showing high propagation rate at much lower values than threshold stress intensity factor range as well as a strong dependency on the microstructural features such as grain boundaries, phase boundaries, and inclusions. To this end, a novel experimental framework is developed to investigate the short fatigue crack behaviour of hydrogen charged materials involving in-situ observation of propagating short cracks coupled with image processing to obtain their da/dN vs a curves. Various metallic materials ranging from austenitic stainless steel (AISI 316L) to reactor pressure vessel steel (SA508 Grade 3 Class I low alloy steel) and line pipe steels (API 5L X65 & X80) are studied in this work.

Countries: India

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