Sandia and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) scientists are undertaking a study to analyze how hydrogen affects plastics, rubber, steel and aluminum.
The Hydrogen Materials Compatibility Consortium (H-Mat), will focus on how hydrogen affects polymers and metals especially in fuel cell transportation and hydrogen infrastructure.
Sandia, PNNL, Oak Ridge, Savannah River and Argonne national laboratories are all part of the [email protected] that seeks to advance hydrogen utilization for energy production, storage, and industrial processes.
Current metal structures that contain hydrogen – such as valves, fuel tanks and storage vessels, are basically manufactured from several expensive alloys of aluminum and steel.
In such materials, hydrogen interacts with their atomic make-up in ways that can introduce damage.
Components are therefore routinely inspected and taken out of service after a set number of years so that this damage does not result in unexpected failures.
Since the mechanisms of interactions between hydrogen and materials at the nano and microscales are not well understood, the lifetimes of various components are challenging to estimate.
This aside, very little is known about how hydrogen affects the structure and mechanical properties of polymers, such as plastic pipes and rubber seals.
The H-Mat consortium is hoping to dig deeper into the underlying science of this behavior by using advanced imaging and surface characterization techniques to study hydrogen interactions with materials at size scales ranging from the atomistic to the engineering scale.
The consortium members are also developing computer models to predict the mechanisms of these interactions and the evolution of hydrogen-induced damage.
They contend that such predictions could help materials scientists tailor the compositional and microstructural makeup of materials for withstanding hydrogen-induced damage like that of hydrogen embrittlement.
Image and content: Dino Vournas/Sandia Labs