Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers Aim to Mitigate Impact of Unintended Hydrogen Leaks by Examining ‘Embrittlement’ Issues

28.05.2008
Materials researchers across the globe have fervently been working to find the ideal hydrogen storage material, one that will safely and efficiently provide the needed range and running time for fuel cell vehicles. But a separate issue — hydrogen “embrittlement” — is an equally challenging technical hurdle that has gone largely unnoticed by the general public.

Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories in Livermore, Calif., however, have quietly been tackling the problem for years. Sandia is a National Nuclear Security Administration laboratory.

Hydrogen embrittlement is not unique to on-board storage, but automotive applications are the focus of Sandia’s current research. In terms of on-board storage, Sandia materials scientist Brian Somerday says hydrogen embrittlement can be defined as the cracking or fracturing of the outside wall of a hydrogen storage tank. It occurs because of the unique structure and absorption qualities of hydrogen and can lead to unintended leaks.

“Because of its small size, hydrogen can readily diffuse (scatter or disperse) into materials at room temperature,” says Somerday. “Other gas species can promote embrittlement of structural materials, but the mobility of hydrogen at room temperature makes it unique as an embrittling agent.”

This means the hydrogen is easily absorbed by other materials, which is a useful scientific phenomenon when the goal is to store hydrogen in a metal hydride material for onboard storage. “But for the automobile’s fuel tank itself,” says Somerday, “the risk of embrittlement – and subsequent leaks – is a concern.”

Materials scientists have been working on hydrogen embrittlement since long before the term “hydrogen highway” joined the vernacular.

“This is not a new phenomenon, but one that has been studied for decades,” says Somerday, who was hired by Sandia 10 years ago to work on hydrogen embrittlement in relation to gas transfer systems. Currently, his efforts support the FreedoomCAR and Fuel Partnership and are focused on low-cost steels, aluminum alloys, and stainless steels. His primary interest is what happens structurally to those materials when exposed to hydrogen.

“By measuring the structural properties of the materials, quantifying the degree by which they will degrade when stressed in hydrogen, and simulating the cracks that occur in the structural material, we can minimize the impact of the embrittlement through proper design,” says Somerday. The ultimate goal, he says, is to eliminate the possibility of embrittlement altogether.

A scientific level of understanding, he says, will help provide guidance for storing hydrogen for automotive purposes — whether in an onboard fuel tank, a storage tank at a refueling station, or piping that hydrogen might flow through between the two. The researchers, says Somerday, are interested in anything that might come in contact with high-pressure hydrogen. The results of Sandia’s research will facilitate decisions such as what structural materials to use for hydrogen storage and the lifespan of such materials.

Sandia, Somerday says, is one of only a few research institutions currently studying the embrittlement issue. One of its lab capabilities allows researchers to subject material specimens to dynamic loads in very high hydrogen gas pressures (other systems generally only offer much lower pressure capacities).

Due to his expertise and knowledge of the subject, Somerday will serve as a faculty member at the Third European Summer School on Hydrogen Safety, to beheld later this summer at the University of Ulster (Belfast, UK). He’ll teach a two-part course titled Hydrogen Effects in Materials, while his Sandia colleague Jeff LaChance will lead a quantitative risk assessment course.

Sandia is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a Lockheed Martin company, for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies, and economic competitiveness.

Mike Janes | newswise
Further information:
http://www.sandia.gov

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht A materials scientist’s dream come true
21.08.2018 | Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

nachricht Novel sensors could enable smarter textiles
17.08.2018 | University of Delaware

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: It’s All in the Mix: Jülich Researchers are Developing Fast-Charging Solid-State Batteries

There are currently great hopes for solid-state batteries. They contain no liquid parts that could leak or catch fire. For this reason, they do not require cooling and are considered to be much safer, more reliable, and longer lasting than traditional lithium-ion batteries. Jülich scientists have now introduced a new concept that allows currents up to ten times greater during charging and discharging than previously described in the literature. The improvement was achieved by a “clever” choice of materials with a focus on consistently good compatibility. All components were made from phosphate compounds, which are well matched both chemically and mechanically.

The low current is considered one of the biggest hurdles in the development of solid-state batteries. It is the reason why the batteries take a relatively long...

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A paper battery powered by bacteria

21.08.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Protein interaction helps Yersinia cause disease

21.08.2018 | Life Sciences

Biosensor allows real-time oxygen monitoring for 'organs-on-a-chip'

21.08.2018 | Medical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>