Atomic hydrogen is able to significantly reduce the ductility of metallic raw materials. This can lead to the expected malfunction of components and is generally referred to as hydrogen brittleness. The diverse and distinct susceptibilities for hydrogen embrittlement in otherwise strong material properties limit the selection of raw materials.
Through various processes, hydrogen can penetrate into the raw materials; through loading with gaseous hydrogen and through electrochemical processes (e.g. corrosion or galvanic coating). The problem of hydrogen embrittlement in the traffic and energy sector is becoming increasingly important as hydrogen is viewed as an important energy carrier of the future. The associated development of new technologies to manufacture, distribute and use hydrogen as an energy supplier requires the qualification of available raw materials and those to be newly developed for these applications.
The Fraunhofer IWM supports its clients in selecting and qualifying raw materials and manufacturing procedures, assessing their lifetime expectancy and in cases of damage, identifying the causes of the component malfunction. Our employees have many years of experience in investigation and explaining the mechanisms of hydrogen brittleness and in the simulation of the underlying diffusion processes. Experimental equipment is available for the targeted loading of raw materials with hydrogen including simultaneous mechanical and thermal loading to determine the hydrogen content, to characterize the microstructure and to determine the hardness-relevant properties.