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Hydrogen Embrittlement


A process resulting in adecrease of the toughness or ductility of a metal due to the presence of atomic hydrogen. Hydrogen embrittlement has been recognized classically as being of two types. The first known as internal hydrogen embrittlement, occurs when the hydrogen enters molten metal which becomes supersaturated with hydrogen immediately after solidification. The second type, environmental hydrogen embrittlement, results from hydrogen being absorbed by solid metals. This can occur during elevated-temperature thermal treatments and in service during electroplating, contact with maintenance chemicals, corrosion reactions, cathodic protection, and operating in high-pressure hydrogen. In the absence of residual stress or external loading, environmental hydrogen embrittlement is manifested in various forms, such as blistering, internal cracking, hydride formation, and reduced ductility. With a tensile stress or stress-intensity factor exceeding a specific threshold, the atomic hydrogen interacts with the metal to induce subcritical crackgrowth leading to fracture. In the absence of a corrosion reaction (polarized cathodically), the usual term used is hydrogen-assisted cracking(HAC) or hydrogen stress cracking (HSC). In the prcsence of active corrosion, usually as pits or crevices (polarized anodically), the cracking is generally called stress-corrosion cracking(SCC), but should more properly be called hydrogen-assisted stress-corrosion cracking (HSCC). Thus HSC and electrochemically anodic SCC can operate separately or in combination(HSCC). In some metals, such as high-strength steels, the mechanism is believed to be all, or nearly all, HSC. The participating mechanism of HSC is not always recognized and may be evaluated under the generic heading of SCC
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