To develop safer and more cost-effective high-pressure hydrogen tanks used in fuel cell vehicles (FCVs), the metallic materials with the following three key properties, i.e. lightweight, high strength and excellent resistance to hydrogen embrittlement should be explored. In this study, the compatibility of high-strength, precipitation-hardened aluminum alloy 7075-T6 was evaluated according to the four types of mechanical testing including slow-strain rate tensile (SSRT), fatigue life, fatigue crack growth (FCG) and fracture toughness tests in high-pressure gaseous hydrogen environments (95 ∼ 115 MPa) at room temperature. Even though numerous publications have previously reported significant degradation of the mechanical properties of 7075-T6 in some hydrogenating environments, such as moist atmosphere, the understanding with regards to the performance of this alloy in high-pressure gaseous hydrogen environments is still lacking.
In SSRT tests, the alloy showed no degradation of tensile strength and ductility. Furthermore, fatigue life, fatigue crack growth and fracture toughness properties were also not degraded in hydrogen gas. Namely, it was first demonstrated that the material has big potential to be used for hydrogen storage tanks for FCVs, according to its excellent resistance to high-pressure gaseous hydrogen.