Hydrogen in its atomic form is the most abundant element in the universe. It is also the smallest atom and as such can penetrate the lattice of a wide range of materials including steels. It is often a product of cathodically protected components such as offshore structures and subsea pipelines, and this process can lead to a gradual increase in the hydrogen concentrations. This is of great significance because hydrogen has a deleterious effect upon material toughness and this loss of toughness has been the primary cause of costly in service failures.
Strangely, despite the obvious interest in hydrogen, the fundamental reasons for hydrogen cracking are still not well understood. TWI has amassed a considerable amount of empirical data, but this has not been converted into a robust understanding. It is therefore important that a more detailed understanding is generated.
Loughborough University has recently advanced atomistic modelling methods so that they can be extended to prediction of behaviour over longer periods of time. It is proposed that these techniques be applied to the presence and effects of hydrogen upon the structure and deformation properties of iron based microstructures.