The materials and components compatibility program element applies Sandia’s core capability in hydrogen embrittlement to address fundamental questions about the mechanical behavior of materials when exposed to high-pressure gaseous hydrogen. The cornerstone of Sandia’s core capability in hydrogen embrittlement is the Hydrogen Effects on Materials Laboratory where specialized assets reside for conducting mechanical testing of materials with concurrent exposure to gaseous hydrogen at pressures from 1 MPa to greater than 100 MPa.


A national resource for mechanical testing of materials in high-pressure gaseous hydrogen. The laboratory includes a range of specialized assets for evaluating materials performance in high-pressure gaseous hydrogen:

  • Thermal Precharging – Materials and test specimens are exposed to high-pressure gaseous hydrogen (up to 140 MPa) at elevated temperature (up to 300 ˚C) before subsequent evaluation.
  • Static-load Crack Growth Testing – Instrumented specimens subjected to constant-displacement loading (e.g., wedge-opening load specimens) are exposed to gaseous hydrogen at pressure up to 200 MPa and temperatures over the range of -70 ˚C to 170 ˚C. The material properties measured are the crack velocity and subcritical cracking threshold.
  • Dynamic-load Testing – Specimens are exposed to gaseous hydrogen at pressure up to 140 MPa while concurrently subjected to different loading formats, e.g., monotonically increasing or cyclic. Material properties measured include tensile strength and ductility, fatigue strength, fatigue crack growth rates, and subcritical cracking thresholds under rising loading.
Includes several areas of research, including the compatibility of materials and components with high-pressure gaseous hydrogen. The materials and components compatibility program element has several broad objectives:

  • optimize the reliability and efficiency of test methods for structural materials and components in hydrogen gas
  • generate critical hydrogen compatibility data for structural materials to enable technology deployment,
  • create and maintain information resources such as the “Technical Reference for Hydrogen Compatibility of Materials“, and
  • demonstrate leadership in the international harmonization of standards for qualifying materials and components for service with high-pressure gaseous hydrogen.

Each of these objectives supports the development, optimization, or implementation of hydrogen containment codes and standards, such as ASME Article KD-10 for stationary and transport vessels, ASME B31.12 for piping and pipelines, CSA HPIT1 for industrial truck fuel systems, SAE J2579 for fuel systems in hydrogen vehicles, and CSA CHMC1 for hydrogen containment material qualification.

This program focuses on the need for safe and reliable hydrogen transport pathways from centralized production facilities, e.g., pipelines. Carbon-manganese steels are candidates for the structural materials in hydrogen gas pipelines; however, it is well known that these steels are susceptible to hydrogen embrittlement, which compromises the structural integrity of steel components. One manifestation of hydrogen embrittlement in steel hydrogen containment structures subjected to pressure cycling is hydrogen-accelerated fatigue crack growth. Such pressure cycling represents one of the key differences in operating conditions between current hydrogen pipelines and those anticipated in a hydrogen delivery infrastructure. Applying structural integrity models in design codes coupled with measurement of relevant material properties allows quantification of the reliability/integrity of steel hydrogen pipelines subjected to pressure cycling. Furthermore, application of these structural integrity models is aided by the development of physics-based material models, which provide important insights such as the effects of gas impurities (e.g., oxygen) on hydrogen-accelerated fatigue crack growth. Successful implementation of these structural integrity and material models enhances confidence in the design codes and enables decisions about materials selection and operating conditions for reliable and efficient steel hydrogen pipelines.

Materials Testing

Advancing Materials Testing in Hydrogen Gas Meeting
On April 9th and 10th, 2013, the Hydrogen Effects on Materials Laboratory team at Sandia National Laboratories/California, invited representatives from 10 institutes in 7 different countries to participate in a meeting to identify gaps in capabilities (equipment, procedures, safety) for testing materials in hydrogen gas, particularly at high pressures (up to 100 MPa) with demanding duty cycles and long test durations. The purpose of these specialized testing systems is for applying monotonic and cyclic loading to material specimens (metals and non-metals) in hydrogen gas to measure deformation and fracture properties. The meeting provided a forum for interactive exchange of information and ideas on the participants’ facility designs and operations.

The following are the presentations from each of the 10 institutes.

Sandia National Laboratories, USA
Ken Lee
Powertech Labs, Inc., Canada
Darren Bromley
National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Japan
Takashi Iijima
Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation, Japan
Hideki Fujii
Korea Research Institute of Standards and Science (KRISS), S. Korea
Seung Hoon Nahm
Pprime Institute, France
Gilbert Henaff
The Welding Institute (TWI), UK Richard Pargeter
French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), France Laurent Briottet
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), USA Andrew Slifka
Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT), Finland Pekka Moilanen

Financial support for the Advancing Materials Testing in Hydrogen Gas Meeting was provided by the Safety, Codes and Standards program of the Fuel Cell Technologies Office, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, United States Department of Energy.


Understanding hydrogen embrittlement in steels is vital to our global hydrogen energy future.

Outcomes In-Progress:

  • Initial data to inform design/engineering- e.g. materials selection
  • Paper presented at ASME conference

Longer-term benefits:

  • Influence the harmonization of international codes & standards for H2
  • Impact cost, reliability, and safety of H2 energy systems- e.g. fuel cell vehicles, H2 fueling infrastructure, etc.
  • Seed key relationships with Japanese industrial and academic partner
  • Leverage data and understanding for other Sandia mission areas

Read “Sandia/AIST Meeting Highlights Energy Research Collaboration between U.S. and Japan” Dec 2012


Gaseous hydrogen embrittlement of materials in energy technologies

With its distinguished editors and international team of expert contributors, Volume 1 of Gaseous hydrogen embrittlement of materials in energy technologies is an invaluable reference tool for engineers, designers, materials scientists, and solid mechanicians working with safety-critical components fabricated from high performance materials required to operate in severe environments based on hydrogen. Impacted technologies include aerospace, petrochemical refining, gas transmission, power generation and transportation.

Visit the book’s website for more information.



Sandia researcher Dr. Brian P. Somerday is Lead Principal Investigator for the Hydrogen Compatible Materials and Interfaces Division in one of Japan’s world-premier research centers: the International Institute for Carbon-Neutral Energy Research. The technology objective for the basic research activities in this division is to optimize the cost, performance, and safety of pressurized hydrogen containment systems.


The International Hydrogen Conference series has consisted of eight meetings between 1973 and 2012. The conference is the premier topical meeting on hydrogen effects in materials. Sandia has played a prominent role in this conference series over its 40 year span. Sandians Neville Moody and Brian Somerday have each served as co-organizer of the conference.

  • Visit the International Hydrogen Conference 2012 webpage
  • Visit the International Hydrogen Conference 2012 proceedings
Summarizes the mechanical properties of materials measured in gaseous hydrogen. This reference is intended to aid engineers of hydrogen systems by providing a compendium of materials properties measured in gaseous hydrogen that can be used in their designs and to aid materials selection for hydrogen service.

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