Hydrogen-associated decohesion and localized plasticity in a high-Mn and high-Al two-phase lightweight steel

Dong, X. and Wang, D. and Thoudden-Sukumar, P. and Tehranchi, A. and Ponge, D. and Sun, B. and Raabe, D.

Volume: 239 Pages:
DOI: 10.1016/j.actamat.2022.118296
Published: 2022

Advanced lightweight high-strength steels are often compositionally and microstructurally complex. While this complex feature enables the activation of multiple strengthening and strain-hardening mechanisms, it also leads to a complicated damage behavior, especially in the presence of hydrogen (H). The mechanisms of hydrogen embrittlement (HE) in these steels need to be properly understood for their successful application. Here we focus on a high-Mn (∼20 wt.%), high-Al (∼9 wt.%) lightweight steel with an austenite (∼74 vol.%) and ferrite (∼26 vol.%) two-phase microstructure and unravel the interplay of H-related decohesion and localized plasticity and their effects on failure. We find that HE in this alloy is driven by both, H-induced intergranular cracking along austenite-ferrite phase boundaries and H-induced transgranular cracking inside the ferrite. The former phenomenon is attributed to the mechanism of H-enhanced decohesion. For the latter damage behavior, systematic scanning electron microscopy-based characterization reveals that only parts of the transgranular cracks inside ferrite are straight (∼52% proportion) and along the cleavage plane. Other portions of these transgranular cracks show a distinct deviation from the {100} planes at certain stages of crack propagation, which is associated with a mechanism transition from the H-enhanced transgranular decohesion of the ferrite by cleavage to the H-associated localized plasticity occurring near the propagating crack tip. These mechanisms are further discussed based on a detailed comparison to the damage behavior at cryogenic temperatures and on the nanoindentation results performed with in-situ H-charging. The findings provide new insights into the understanding of the interplay between different HE mechanisms operating in high-strength alloys and their synergistic effects on damage evolution. © 2022 Acta Materialia Inc.

« back