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Hydrogen-assisted Fatigue Crack Growth: Pre-charging vs In-situ Testing in Gaseous Environments


We investigate the implications of conducting hydrogen-assisted fatigue crack growth experiments in a hydrogen gas environment (in-situ hydrogen charging) or in air (following exposure to hydrogen gas). The study is conducted on welded 42CrMo4 steel, a primary candidate for the future hydrogen transport infrastructure, allowing us to additionally gain insight into the differences in behavior between the base steel and the coarse grain heat affected zone. The results reveal significant differences between the two testing approaches and the two weld regions. The differences are particularly remarkable for the comparison of testing methodologies, with fatigue crack growth rates being more than one order of magnitude higher over relevant loading regimes when the samples are tested in a hydrogen-containing environment, relative to the pre-charged samples. Aided by finite element modelling and microscopy analysis, these differences are discussed and rationalized. Independent of the testing approach, the heat affected zone showed a higher susceptibility to hydrogen embrittlement. Similar microstructural behavior is observed for both testing approaches, with the base metal exhibiting martensite lath decohesion while the heat affected zone experienced both martensite lath decohesion and intergranular fracture.

Funding source: The authors would like to thank the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities for the financial support received to carry out research project RTI2018-096070-B-C31 (H2steelweld). A. Zafra and G. Alvarez ´ thank the Spanish Ministry of Universities for the Margarita Salas Postdocotral Fellowships [reference MU-21-UP2021- 030] funded through the Next Generation EU programme. E. Martínez-Paneda ˜ was additionally supported by an UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship [grant MR/V024124/1].
Countries: France ; Spain ; United Kingdom

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