Fatigue crack growth tests have been carried out in a number of gaseous environments in order to assess their effects on the crack propagation resistance of BS 4360 grade 50EE, a weldable structural steel. Crack growth rates at 25 °C are up to 20 times higher in hydrogen than in air, but there is no effect when hydrogen is present as a 30% constituent of a simplified product gas (SPG). Indeed, crack growth rates in such a mixture are slightly lower than those measured in air, being comparable with those observed in an inert environment. The other gases present in the SPG are CO, CO2 and CH4, and it is probable that the carbon monoxide is responsible for nullifying the embrittling effects of hydrogen, by preferentially adsorbing on to the surface of the steel and thus blocking hydrogen entry. Experimental observations suggest that oxygen has the same effect when small quantities are allowed to diffuse into a non-flowing hydrogen environment around a propagating crack. The results are encouraging in terms of the suitability of conventional structural steels such as BS 4360 for gas plant applications. The gas mixtures present in such an environment would not have the severe detrimental effects on fatigue crack growth resistance which result from the presence of 'pure' hydrogen. © 1993.
- gas production
- structural steel