Detection of Hydrogen in High-strength Steel
Hydrogen is important not just as a potential energy source, but also because it plays a significant role in materials research. Because of its low density it can even diffuse through solids such as steel. This poses a problem for high-strength steels in particular, such as those used in the automotive industry. If hydrogen has entered the metallic lattice it can cause so-called hydrogen embrittlement which can lead to premature material fatigue under mechanical stress, and this represents a highly unpredictable risk for the material’s use. On the H-HUNT project, methods are being developed and tested in cooperation with voestalpine Stahl GmbH Linz which should be able to detect even infinitesimal concentrations of hydrogen in steel. Particular attention is paid to localizing hydrogen in the steel’s microstructure. This should make the diffusion paths and mobility of the hydrogen in various high-strength steels visible and predictable. In addition, the mechanisms leading to the ingress of hydrogen into the steel are being investigated. Here it is important to distinguish between the hydrogen that was introduced into the material during the production of the steel and the hydrogen that enters it when the steel is in use. The main focus of the H-HUNT project is on investigating corrosion processes that take place when the steel is being used and can introduce hydrogen into the material.