Applications requiring the containment and transportation of hydrogen gas at pressures greater than 70MPa are anticipated in the evolving hydrogen economy infrastructure. Since hydrogen is known to alter the mechanical properties of materials, data are needed to guide the selection of materials for structural components. The objective of this study is to characterize the role of yield strength, microstructural orientation, and small concentrations of ferrite on hydrogen-assisted fracture in two austenitic stainless steels: 21Cr–6Ni–9Mn (21-6-9) and 22Cr–13Ni–5Mn (22-13-5). The testing methodology involves exposure of tensile specimens to high-pressure hydrogen gas at elevated temperature in order to precharge the specimens with hydrogen, and subsequently testing the specimens in laboratory air to measure strength and ductility. In all cases, the alloys remain ductile despite precharging to hydrogen concentrations of 1at.%, as demonstrated by reduction in area values between 30% and 60% and fracture modes dominated by microvoid processes. Low concentrations of ferrite and moderate increases in yield strength do not exacerbate hydrogen-assisted fracture in 21-6-9 and 22-13-5, respectively. Microstructural orientation has a pronounced effect on ductility in 22-13-5 due to the presence of aligned second-phase particles.

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