The effect of precipitations (NbC and carbide) in Fe–C–Mn-xNb steels on hydrogen embrittlement characteristics

Mitsuhiro Okayasu, Masaya Sato, Daiki Ishida, Takehide Senuma

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16 Citations (Scopus)


Hydrogen embrittlement (HE) characteristics in Fe–C–Mn-xNb steels were examined via various analyses, including electron backscatter diffraction analysis, scanning transmission electron microscopy and three-dimensional atom-probe tomography. For the investigation, the steel samples were prepared with varying Nb contents and heat treatment processes. The material properties of steel samples that were subjected to: (i) water quenching and (ii) quenching and tempering at 170 °C for 20 min, were determined to be nearly similar, although different degrees of HE were detected. After the tempering process, ε-carbide precipitated clearly in the matrix, which could act as a trapping site for hydrogen atoms and lead to improved HE resistance. Moreover, with addition of Nb, niobium base precipitates (e.g., NbC) with a diameter of a few nanometers were obtained in the martensite matrix, which could also function as hydrogen trapping sites. There was slight improvement in the HE resistance with NbC. Hydrogen-assisted failure mechanisms under both static and cyclic loading were observed with intergranular brittle cracking for the water quenched sample, even though the brittle and ductile mix failure mode was detected for the sample after the quenching and tempering process.

Original languageEnglish
Article number139598
JournalMaterials Science and Engineering A
Publication statusPublished - Jul 22 2020


  • Hydrogen embrittlement
  • Niobium carbide
  • Steel
  • Trapping site
  • ε-carbide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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