Development of an innovative testing method towards a better understanding of hydrogen[1]metal interactions to secure gaseous hydrogen transportation

Context : Renewable hydrogen is the key to securing a carbon-free energy supply by 2050.

National grid operators need support in the securing upgrade of existing facilities and in the development of new infrastructures to transport and store hydrogen-containing gases.

The development of new infrastructure or the repurpose / retrofitting of the existing gas transport network towards the transport of pressurized hydrogen requires an assessment of pipeline materials in terms of longevity in relation to exposure to hydrogen.

Unlike gas transport, hydrogen-metal interactions are expected in the case of hydrogen transport. Hydrogen can be absorbed by metals and even very small quantities of hydrogen (less than 1 to a few parts per million) can already lead to hydrogen embrittlement, characterized by a reduction of mechanical performance such as reduced ductility, delayed fracture, blistering, etc., which can lead to safety problems.

Project objective 

This project aims at designing a novel mechanical test in hydrogen-containing pressurized gases dedicated to industrial transportation pipe materials. The “Dynamic Tube Rupture Test”, as it will be named (and abbreviated DTRT), combines the specific features that need to be controlled to assess the ability of a pipe to be used for safe hydrogen transport. It will indeed enable to evaluate the resistance to crack propagation of industrial tubes (through the measurement of the crack growth rate) and the different zones of their welds containing defects and exposed to cyclic H2 pressures (in-situ testing).

The samples used for this assessment will have the same shape (tube) as the pipe but with a reduced diameter. Cracks will thus propagate in the same relative direction as in the real network which is not always feasible with CT specimens. This technique also exhibits the double benefit to answer an important industrial need, while allowing a fundamental investigation and understanding of hydrogen-metal interactions. The design of this novel technique will be challenging and will require a fine-tuned research to deliver a non-trivial testing method devoted to practical industrial issues.

Developed skills 

The ReadHY project aims at developing a technical support helpful for guaranteeing a safe transport of pressurized hydrogen within the Belgian transport infrastructure.

The project will contribute to the federal strategy :

  • Expanding Belgian leadership in hydrogen technologies by developing competencies and tests directly useful to the market of the hydrogen economy.
  • Establishing a robust hydrogen market by tackling the needs in the understanding the hydrogen interactions with real samples and to mimic the real industrial conditions to help in the development of efficient and safe processes in hydrogen transportation.
  • Investing in cooperation between Wallon and Flemish universities and research centre for the benefit of industries associated to the gas infrastructure.


Funding framework : ETF Energy transition fund

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Coordinator : Advanced Coatings & Construction Solutions

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Partners :

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