Conference Dates

July 15-20, 2018


Carbon steels or low-alloyed steels may be affected by damaging phenomena due to Hydrogen Embrittlement (HE), which is a particular form of Environmental Assisted Cracking (EAC). The insurgence of HE depends on the intrinsic susceptibility of the steel, the applied stress, and the concentration of hydrogen inside the metal. It occurs by a mechanism of absorption and subsequent diffusion of atomic hydrogen through the metal lattice.

On steels with a yield strength lower than 700 MPa, HE occurs in the plastic deformation field, in the presence of dynamic loading at slow strain rates or cyclic fatigue loading at very low frequencies. Although several important studies were carried out on the effect of loading conditions on hydrogen diffusion into the metal and HE mechanism, HE phenomena are not fully understood. In this work, the effect of the application of cyclic loads on hydrogen diffusion parameters was studied both in the elastic and in the plastic deformation field. The influence of mean load and amplitude was analyzed. Hydrogen permeation tests were performed on API 5L X65 steel, in accordance with ISO 17081:2014. The specimen behaved as bi-electrode between the two compartments of a Devanathan-Stachurski cell. The anodic side of the specimen was polarized at +340 mV vs Ag/AgCl in a 0.1 M NaOH aerated solution, while the cathodic compartment was filled with an aerated borate solution. A controller enabled temperature adjustment at 20±0.5°C. Once the passivity current registered in the anodic side reached values of 0.05 µA/cm2, a cathodic current density of 0.50 mA/cm2 was applied to charging cathodic side. The study included tests with sine waveform cycling loading, with a maximum level equal to 110% TYS, at a frequency of 10-2 Hz.

The results confirmed the values of hydrogen diffusion coefficient usually indicated for low-alloyed steels with a sorbitic microstructure. Strain hardened specimens - stretched above yield strength - showed an increase of steady state current and an extension of the time lag, denoting a slight decrease in the apparent hydrogen diffusion coefficient due to traps effect in the cold deformed steel matrix.

Under cyclic loading, an instantaneous peak of current with a subsequent significant transient decrease occurred after cyclic load application, whereas no relevant variation of permeation curve compared to unloaded specimens was observed if specimens were already loaded before hydrogen charging.

The instantaneous current peak reached values much higher than the steady state current. This is ascribed to the rupture of the passive film – caused by loading – and its subsequent reformation; in fact, this can also be noted during tests performed on specimens without hydrogen permeation.

The following transient, in which the permeation current decreases below the steady state and then returns to it, denotes a relevant trapping effect that causes the instantaneous reduction of mobile hydrogen concentration in the lattice. This becomes more significant for loads closer and closer to the yield strength, mainly beyond this, and can only be noted at the first loading step. Subsequent unloading and loading step at the same mean value showed no transient in the permeation current

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