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Title:The influence of hydrogen on the evolving microstructure during fatigue crack growth in metastable and stable austenitic stainless steels
Author(s):Nygren, Kelly E
Director of Research:Robertson, Ian M
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Robertson, Ian M
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Sofronis, Petros; Altstetter, Carl; Bellon, Pascal; Dillon, Shen
Department / Program:Materials Science & Engineerng
Discipline:Materials Science & Engr
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Hydrogen Embrittlement
Stainless Steel
Abstract:The effect of high levels of internal hydrogen on the microstructure evolving during stage II fatigue crack growth was investigated through a series of tensile and fatigue studies in metastable (304) and stable (316, 316L) stainless steels. The first, a tensile study in 304 stainless steel, identified the underlying microstructure which resulted in the flat and quasi-cleavage features on the fracture surface of a hydrogen-charged tensile bar. The second study utilized single-edge notched tensile specimens loaded in fatigue, and compared the evolving microstructure ahead of a fatigue crack for cases of an uncharged, 10 wppm hydrogen-charged, and 104 wppm hydrogen-charged 304 and 316L alloy. The final fatigue study, a small fatigue crack growth study in round bars of 304 and 316, provided a contextual comparison of microstructures to previous results in literature. In the metastable 304 stainless steel, hydrogen is found to change the nature of the martensitic transformation and subsequent fracture path. This transformation is attributed to enhanced plasticity and hydrogen-dislocation interactions stabilizing the austenitic matrix and confining slip to particular close-packed planes. The martensite acts as a fast diffusion pathway for hydrogen, leading to final fracture along martensitic laths or cleavage planes. In 316L, the material deforms via slip and twinning and hydrogen does not induce a change in deformation mechanisms. Instead, the enhanced plasticity and hydrogen-dislocation interactions increase the degree of plasticity, leading to smaller dislocation cell sizes with thicker walls before the onset of twinning. The crack interacts with a heavily twinned structure superimposed on dislocation cells, resulting in a curvature of one twin-variant in the direction of crack growth and the formation of a refined region at the fracture surface. These structures are localized to the crack surface and limited in rotation in the presence of hydrogen. The presence of a hydrogen content above the solution-limit led to a strengthening effect over all other samples in the round bar samples for both 304 and 316. In the SENT studies, 304 stainless steel charged to these levels showed the greatest degree of hydrogen embrittlement, while in 316L stainless steel, the samples containing these levels of hydrogen were found to be stronger in fatigue life than the 10 wppm hydrogen-charged sample. Both of the 316L hydrogen-charged samples were weaker than their uncharged counterpart. Differences in the outcomes for the two studies was attributed to the geometry and testing condition employed. When strengthening was observed, the role of hydrogen was resolved to be two-fold: hydrogen hardens the matrix in the lattice, suppressing the process zone at the crack; and hydrogen at the dislocations enhances the plasticity experienced in the region where the material is yielding ahead of crack advance in the strain lobe. Irrespective of material class, increasing stress-state on the crack within the same stage of fatigue life leads to an increase in depth of the refinement layer and level of plasticity. The refinement at the surface can be attributed to the dislocation emission created during crack advance and the deformation induced in the crack wake. The former is the primary contributor to the SENT specimen studies, while the latter is responsible for the differences observed in the round-bar studies. In 316L, when the twin structure was observed to extend to the surface, regions of light and dark contrast were observed between the twinning bundle variants which corresponded to the peaks and troughs of the striations. This observation is counter to the current understanding that striations form during the crack advance process, independently of the evolved microstructure. The resulting microstructures in all hydrogen-induced studies are discussed in terms of the impact of hydrogen-dislocation interactions and enhanced plasticity. The evolving microstructure and unique observation of striations conforming to the microstructure developed ahead of crack advance emphasize the need to revisit how fatigue models are approached. Although a challenge, models must be informed by plasticity based arguments incorporating the deformation mechanisms observed in experiments to accurately reflect fatigue crack growth.
Issue Date:2016-12-02
Rights Information:Copyright 2016 Kelly Nygren
Date Available in IDEALS:2017-03-01
Date Deposited:2016-12

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