Researchers study hydrogen embrittlement of AM nickel-718 in oil & gas industry conditions

September 6, 2019

Researchers study hydrogen embrittlement of AM nickel-718 in oil & gas industry conditions
Prof Troconis and W Fassett Hickey will study hydrogen embrittlement of an additively manufactured nickel-718 part on a molecular level, under the high pressures and elevated temperatures typical of drilling environments (Courtesy UTSA)

Researchers from the The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), also based in San Antonio, Texas, USA, will collaborate on a research project to examine how hydrogen embrittlement conditions develop on a nickel alloy used in the oil & gas industry, when fabricated through Additive Manufacturing. 

According to UTSA and SwRI, despite many industries quickly adopting AM, there has so far been a lack of testing of the way hydrogen embrittlement impacts the material performance of metal AM parts made from nickel-718, an alloy used in critical conditions where high mechanical properties and corrosion resistance are desired. Although safety is critical in this field, without enough testing data to understand the effect of hydrogen embrittlement on the alloy when processed by AM, the safety of AM-fabricated systems remains unknown.

Prof Brendy Rincon Troconis, UTSA Department of Mechanical Engineering, and W Fassett Hickey, of SwRI’s Mechanical Engineering Division, plan to work together to understand the underlying mechanisms governing the susceptibility of additively manufactured nickel-718 to hydrogen embrittlement under oil and gas industry-related conditions. 

To do this, they will study hydrogen embrittlement on a molecular level to examine how the location of hydrogen atoms affects the integrity of the material under the high pressures and elevated temperatures typical of drilling environments. The team will also compare the testing results obtained from tests performed with additively manufactured nickel-718 with those for wrought nickel-718 under the same environmental conditions to ascertain which fabrication approach is better and why.

“The operational conditions in the oil and gas industry can lead to hydrogen embrittlement,” stated Rincon Troconis. “This phenomenon causes the premature failure of structures as a result from hydrogen intake in the material. Hydrogen, once inside the material, interacts with the alloy microstructure, degrading its mechanical performance and resulting in brittle fracture without any warning sign.”

“By understanding more about hydrogen embrittlement of Additive Manufacturing materials, we can provide crucial information, with more confidence, to optimise the AM and post-fabrication processes and prevent brittle fracture of future and current systems, while advancing the AM technology, which will all lead to better protection of the community, its assets, and the environment,” she explained. 

The hydrogen embrittlement study is being supported by the Connect Program, a jointly-funded collaborative initiative between UTSA and SwRI. The researchers expect to have data available by Summer 2020 to provide better guidance to industries about how to design AM parts that are less susceptible to hydrogen embrittlement.

Download the latest issue of Metal AM magazine

Our latest issue is now available to view online or download in PDF format.

As well as an extensive AM industry news section, this 172-page issue includes articles and reports on:

  • United Technologies: Pioneering new possibilities for Additive Manufacturing in aerospace
  • Additive Manufacturing at HP: A new ‘centre of excellence’ supports the move to volume production
  • Powder removal: The Achilles heel of powder bed-based metal Additive Manufacturing
  • Defining your digital future: The path to industrial digitalisation in Additive Manufacturing and beyond
  • DfAM insight: How to choose candidate products for AM production applications
  • VBN Components: Additive Manufacturing delivers a new generation of wear-resistant carbide parts
  • Developing an effective metal powder specification for Binder Jet Additive Manufacturing
  • Rapid qualification of new alloys for Additive Manufacturing through a holistic process chain
  • > More information

Latest news


    Sign up to our e-newsletter, sent weekly to AM professionals and end-users around the world. We'll also let you know each time a new issue of Metal AM magazine is available.

    Discover our magazine archive…

    The free to access Metal Additive Manufacturing magazine archive offers unparalleled insight into the world of metal Additive Manufacturing from a commercial and technological perspective through:
    • Reports on visits to leading metal AM part manufacturers and industry suppliers
    • Articles on technology and application trends
    • Information on materials developments
    • Reviews of key technical presentations from the international conference circuit
    • International industry news
    All past issues are available to download in PDF format, in either single page format or as double-page “spreads” for viewing on large monitors. All downloads are free of charge. Go to archive...

    Connect with us

    Visit our social media channels and sign up to our e-newsletter