Which type of steel is sufficiently resistant to hydrogen?

(13-01-2022) In her PhD, Lisa Claeys investigates the interaction between hydrogen and steel. What influence does hydrogen have on the mechanical properties of steel?

The transition to a hydrogen economy is in full swing worldwide and requires the availability of materials that are compatible with hydrogen. Indeed, hydrogen is known to cause a degradation of the mechanical properties, for example:

  • the strength or resistance to tearing is reduced.
  • the toughness, or rate of deformation that can be undergone before failure, decreases.
  • the hardness or resistance to permanent deformation by compression is reduced.

Due to their low hydrogen diffusion rate (the rate at which hydrogen migrates through the steel), austenitic steels* are intrinsically less sensitive to hydrogen. However, they are not hydrogen-resistant. The effect manifests itself in a loss of formability (ductility) and a higher susceptibility to cracking.

"In my PhD, I investigated the interaction of hydrogen with both fully austenitic and partially austenitic steels. The influence of hydrogen on the mechanical properties was evaluated with constant displacement tensile tests. Microstructural analysis of deformed and fractured materials with and without hydrogen elucidated differences in the deformation and fracture mechanisms present. And finally, hydrogen-assisted cracking was also analysed," Lisa explains.

*These are steels that contain a lot of alloying element such as nickel and chromium or manganese, leading to interesting properties. These steels are, for example, extraordinary corrosion resistant and/or easy deformable. They are also hardly, if at all, magnetic.

Read the entire PhD


PhD Title: Characterisation of the Hydrogen Interaction with Duplex and Austenitic Steels


Contact: Lisa Claeys, Tom Depover, Kim Verbeken

Lisa Claeys

Lisa Claeys was born in Deinze, Belgium on June 2nd 1993. She obtained a degree in Latin-Mathematics at secondary school in 2011. Following, she enrolled at Ghent University for the Bachelor of Science in Engineering: Chemical Technology and Materials Science, which she successfully finished in 2014. In 2016, she obtained a master degree in Sustainable Materials Engineering at Ghent University. Her master thesis was awarded with the ArcelorMittal price.

Thereafter, she started a PhD in Materials Engineering in the Sustainable Materials Science group at UGent. Her research focussed on the hydrogen interaction with austenite-containing steels. She obtained a personal FWO SB scholarship in 2017.

In 2019, she enrolled at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel for a joint-PhD in Engineering Sciences. The PhD research resulted in 1 submitted and 5 published A1 articles with the candidate as first author. She also co-authored 7 publications, among which 2 in collaboration with the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil. She orally presented her work at Eurocorr in 2018 and 2019, and presented 2 posters of which one was awarded as best poster presentation. Throughout the PhD, she guided several practical courses and 8 master-theses.


Editor: Jeroen Ongenae - Final editing: Ilse Vercruysse - Illustrator: Roger Van Hecke