Hydrogen embrittlement not a substantial threat
Hydrogen-conversion expert, and clean-fuel specialist, Tai Robinson,
responds to assertion that when hydrogen gas dissolves into the structure of
certain metals such as aluminum & steels, it can cause cracking and failure
of metal components.
for Pure Energy Systems News
Embrittlement: Bad News for H-Cars - When hydrogen gas
dissolves into the structure of certain metals (usually aluminum
& steels), it can cause cracking and failure of metal
components. This has been detected in some engine components, in
some cases severely. (PESWiki; Oct. 6, 2005)
Tai Rabinson, CEO of Intergalactic
Hydrogen, with his H-powered truck at Bridal Veil Falls, Colorado
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Embrittlement is not a substantiated threat. It takes
specific circumstances to reproduce this phenomenon. I have available copies of
Dr. Roy McAlister's book "The
Solar Hydrogen Civilization" that covers this subject. Steel tanks are
still in use today to hold hydrogen that were first hydrostatically tested in
1917 and earlier. Hydrogen is also transported in steel pipelines around the
world without this problem. I am aware of situations that can cause
embrittlement, but not in aluminum.
Ionic hydrogen is much smaller than normal diatomic hydrogen. When ionic
hydrogen is produced such as during arc welding, or welding in a wet
environment, it may indeed cause embrittlement of steel. Certified welders
prevent this with proper techniques such as cleaning, preheating and keeping
their work pieces dry during welding. A properly constructed steel pipeline that
currently caries natural gas can also transport hydrogen without a problem.
Rapid heating or cooling of steel in the presence of hydrogen is best avoided.
Apparently the heat from filling a metal hydride cylinder with hydrogen that is
made out of steel can introduce hydrogen into the metal container. As the
hydrogen works its way into the metal it can weaken it. The cooling of the metal
during de-fueling may also cause it to contract, creating stress on the already
weakend container. Therefore, a suitable material for metal-hydride tanks has
been aluminum. Type IV tanks made from composite wrapped, plastic liners are
also preferable for storing hydrogen. The industry standard for fuel tubing in
automobiles is stainless steel.
Another concern is with high strength steel. High strength steel is not allowed
to be used as a storage vessel for hydrogen.
My truck has almost 150,000 miles on it. The engine has primarily burned methane
for fuel. Hydrogen has been the second most used fuel followed by ethanol and I
am sorry to say, but 19 gallons of gasoline have also been used this year. The
engine does not use any more oil now than it did at 30,000. Embrittlement has
not been an issue in this engine, nor would I foresee it being a problem in any
internal combustion engine, (H2ICE).
If you employ proper practices when handling hydrogen safely, it is far less
dangerous than propane, gasoline, or diesel. If you are making your own hydrogen
and plan to store it, make sure you have pure hydrogen without any oxygen.
Hydrogen can not explode on its own, but it burns very well when combined with
oxygen. For those making Browns
gas, be careful. In Germany they call it boom gas for a reason!
The reason the hydrogen industry has chosen aluminum
and plastic tanks is because there is no known enbrittlement of them. I have
watched United Nuclear for a while and the prices they have stated are not
realistic. Parts for a fuel system upgrade can not even be obtained for that
today. Their electorlyzer is also very suspect on energy input and hydrogen
output. I am afraid they are making extraordinary claims to sway people away
from the truth and in fact alienate people of the possibilities of hydrogen.
I just returned from the Fuel Cell Seminar in Palm Springs. The industry is
growing rapidly, huge attendance. I still believe the best application for fuel
cells is stationary power and that viable hydrogen vehicles are ICE today.
Multi-fuel ICE has been working for me. I drove there and back only using
hydrogen and methane for fuel. did not even need to use any ethanol. Most of the
fuel cell manufacturers were pulling out of transportation applications and
focusing on portable, or stationary power.
# # #
- Email from Tai
Robinson, October 21, 2005 and (appended) Nov.
Page posted by Sterling
D. Allan Nov. 18, 2005
Last updated December 24, 2014