The relationship between crack-tip strain and subcritical cracking thresholds for steels in high-pressure hydrogen gas

Kevin A. Nibur, Brian P. Somerday, Chris San Marchi, James W. Foulk, Mohsen Dadfarnia, Petros Sofronis

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    82 Citations (Scopus)


    Threshold stress intensity factors were measured in high-pressure hydrogen gas for a variety of low alloy ferritic steels using both constant crack opening displacement and rising crack opening displacement procedures. Thresholds for crack extension under rising displacement, K THi, for crack extension under constant displacement, KTHi*, and for crack arrest under constant displacement K THa, were identified. These values were not found to be equivalent, i.e. K THi < K THa < K THi*. The hydrogen assisted fracture mechanism was determined to be strain controlled for all of the alloys in this study, and the micromechanics of strain controlled fracture are used to explain the observed disparities between the different threshold measurements. K THa and K THi differ because the strain singularity of a stationary crack is stronger than that of a propagating crack; K THa must be larger than K THi to achieve equivalent crack tip strain at the same distance from the crack tip. Hydrogen interacts with deformation mechanisms, enhancing strain localization and consequently altering both the nucleation and growth stages of strain controlled fracture mechanisms. The timing of load application and hydrogen exposure, i.e., sequential for constant displacement tests and concurrent for rising displacement tests, leads to differences in the strain history relative to the environmental exposure history and promotes the disparity between K THi* and K THi. K THi is the only conservative measurement of fracture threshold among the methods presented here.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)248-269
    Number of pages22
    JournalMetallurgical and Materials Transactions A: Physical Metallurgy and Materials Science
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013

    All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

    • Condensed Matter Physics
    • Mechanics of Materials
    • Metals and Alloys


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