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hydrogen hardness is the ability of a metal to resist the onset of hydrogen embrittlement. It is a key factor in selecting materials for engineering applications.
It is a problem for a variety of materials, from pressure vessels to fasteners. It can occur at any time from weeks to decades after an item is placed in service.
The occurrence of hydrogen embrittlement is dependent on several factors, including the type and source of hydrogen and how long it has been present. In some cases, hydrogen embrittlement can be prevented by controlling the welding process. In others, thermal exposure procedures are employed that allow hydrogen to escape before critical low temperatures are reached by the workpiece.
In most cases, hydrogen embrittlement is a rare event. However, it can be a serious problem when it does happen.
The extent to which it occurs is dependent on the strength and ductility characteristics of a material, as well as the amount of hydrogen that can be absorbed during its manufacture. Some processes, such as high-temperature welded joints, can be susceptible to hydrogen embrittlement because they have excessively hard microstructures that can lead to the formation of weak spots or areas where hydrogen is trapped and embrittlement can occur.
In this study, the effect of hydrogen absorption on a series of palladium-copper alloys that compositionally vary from 5 to 25 weight percent copper was investigated. Vacuum-annealed specimens showed significant solid solution strengthening that was, as a function of the compositional change, reflected in increased yield strength, ultimate strength, Vickers microhardness, and ductility.