Chapter 17: Hydrogen Attack
Carbon and low-alloy steels in high-temperature service are vulnerable to the effects of hydrogen attack, which include severe loss in tensile and rupture strengths as well as ductility. As the chapter explains, when steel is in contact with hydrogen molecules at elevated temperatures, hydrogen atoms can be absorbed at the surface and then diffuse into the metal. Hydrogen atoms in the metal then react with iron carbide forming methane gas which can accumulate at grain boundaries and other interfaces. The chapter describes two applications, one in coal-fired boilers, the other in petroleum refining, where hydrogen attack was observed. It documents the extent of the damage in each case and identifies the source of the hydrogen.