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Published 2010 | Published
Journal Article Open

A three-dimensional multiscale model of intergranular hydrogen-assisted cracking


We present a three-dimensional model of intergranular hydrogen-embrittlement (HE) that accounts for: (i) the degradation of grain-boundary strength that arises from hydrogen coverage; (ii) grain-boundary diffusion of hydrogen; and (iii) a continuum model of plastic deformation that explicitly resolves the three-dimensional polycrystalline structure of the material. The polycrystalline structure of the specimen along the crack propagation path is resolved explicitly by the computational mesh. The texture of the polycrystal is assumed to be random and the grains are elastically anisotropic and deform plastically by crystallographic slip. We use the impurity-dependent cohesive model in order to account for the embrittling of grain boundaries due to hydrogen coverage. We have carried out three-dimensional finite-element calculations of crack-growth initiation and propagation in AISI 4340 steel double-cantilever specimens in contact with an aggressive environment and compared the predicted initiation times and crack-growth curves with the experimental data. The calculated crack-growth curves exhibit a number of qualitative features that are in keeping with observation, including: an incubation time followed by a well-defined crack-growth initiation transition for sufficiently large loading; the existence of a threshold intensity factor K_(Iscc) below which there is no crack propagation; a subsequent steeply rising part of the curve known as stage I; a plateau, or stage II, characterized by a load-insensitive crack-growth rate; and a limiting stress-intensity factor K_(Ic), or toughness, at which pure mechanical failure occurs. The calculated dependence of the crack-growth initiation time on applied stress-intensity factor exhibits power-law behavior and the corresponding characteristic exponents are in the ball-park of experimental observation. The stage-II calculated crack-growth rates are in good overall agreement with experimental measurements.

Additional Information

© 2010 Taylor & Francis. Received 28 December 2009; final version received 3 March 2010. The authors gratefully acknowledge the support of the United States Army Research Office through the award: W911NF-06-0421 Mod/Amend#: P0001.

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August 21, 2023
August 21, 2023