Hydrogen embrittlement of line pipe steels in the natural gas transmission and distribution network is investigated. The objective is to assess whether the existing network can be used to safely transport a mixture of hydrogen and natural gas. The surveyed literature indicates that the hydrogen-induced acceleration of fatigue crack growth induced by natural gas pressure fluctuations can be the most probable type of failure. We analyzed the fatigue crack growth in line pipe steels containing a long axial crack in the inner diameter (ID) surface by accounting for random cyclic loading due to random and realistic pressure fluctuations, crack closure, and accurate calculation of the stress intensity factor. Using the available experimental data for the crack growth rate vs. stress intensity factor range in the presence of hydrogen, we simulated crack growth over a period of 100 years. The results show that under typical pressure fluctuations in the natural gas network, cracks with depths less than 40% of the wall thickness will never reach depths equal to 75% of the wall thickness. This is a conservative estimate that results from i) the nature of the geometry of the initial flaw in the ID surface that we used in the analysis, ii) the fact that the existing experimental data for the effect of hydrogen on the Paris law are for pressures that are orders of magnitude larger than the partial pressures intended for the hydrogen gas in the mixture, and iii) the experimental data are for fatigue crack growth in pure hydrogen gas without impurities normally present in natural gas, such as oxygen or methane, that can inhibit hydrogen uptake.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
- Fuel Technology
- Condensed Matter Physics
- Energy Engineering and Power Technology