Hydrogen degradation of structural materials is a serious problem that has received increasing attention for the past fifty years. The ubiquity of the sources of hydrogen-corrosion in aqueous solutions, absorption into pipelines carrying humid and/or contaminated hydrocarbons, contaminants in the melting processes-contributes to the importance of the problem. The degradation is manifested in such diverse ways as the catastrophic cracking of high-strength steels, a contribution to stress corrosion cracking of ferritic stainless steels, failure in nuclear reactors of zircalloy tubing by hydride formation, and the failure of pearlitic rail steels because of residual hydrogen.
Particularly in the last decade, there has been a great amount of research on hydrogen problems. A number of conferences have been held and proceedings published. However, many of these have dealt with a narrow aspect of the overall problem. It appeared therefore that there is a need for a guide, sourcebook, and critical review of the fundamentals of hydrogen-metal interactions, mechanistic considerations, and the phenomenology of the degradation of mechanical properties. In order to contain the material in one book, the treatment was restricted to iron-based alloys, with only minor coverage of the important highstrength alloying element, nickel.
Authors from disciplines ranging over thermodynamics, surface chemistry, electrochemistry, quantum mechanics, elasticity, plasticity and fracture mechanics were invited to participate in the writing of the book. Topics were allocated by the editors to attempt to achieve coherent, comprehensive coverage without excessive duplication. This intent was reinforced by making available to some authors the chapter outlines and, in some cases, the preliminary drafts of the contributions by other authors treating relevant subject matter. The resulting volume provides an up-to-date assessment of our understanding of hydrogen effects in iron-based alloys. Clearly, the story is not finished. Many as-pects of hydrogen degradation are not yet clearly delineated, and this book should provide guidance for continuing research.
Richard A. Oriani
Corrosion Research Center
University of Minnesota
John P. Hirth
Ohio State University
Polish Academy of Sciences