The effects of hydrogen on the fracture-toughness properties of Type 316L stainless steel from 175 K to 425 K were measured. Fracture-toughness samples were fabricated from Type 316L stainless steel forgings and hydrogen-charged with hydrogen at 34 MPa and 623 K for two weeks prior to testing. The effect of hydrogen on the J-Integral vs. crack extension behavior was measured at various temperatures by fracturing non-charged and hydrogen-charged samples in an environmental chamber. Hydrogen-charged steels had lower toughness values than non-charged ones, but still retained good toughness properties. The fracture-toughness values of hydrogen-charged samples tested near ambient temperature were about 70% of non-charged values. For hydrogen-charged samples tested at 225 K and 425 K, the fracture-toughness values were 50% of the non-charged values. In all cases, fracture occurred by microvoid nucleation and coalescence, although the hydrogen-charged samples had smaller and more closely spaced microvoids. The results suggest that hydrogen effects on toughness are greater at 225 K than they are at ambient temperature because of strain-induced martensite formation. At 425 K, the hydrogen effects on toughness are greater than they are at ambient temperature because of the higher mobility of hydrogen.

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