Preventing Hydrogen Embrittlement: The Role of Barrier Coatings for the Hydrogen Economy

By Marcel Wetegrove, Maria Jazmin Duarte, Klaus Taube, Martin Rohloff, Hariprasad Gopalan, Christina Scheu, Gerhard Dehm and Angela Kruth.

Hydrogen barrier coatings are protective layers consisting of materials with a low intrinsic hydrogen diffusivity and solubility, showing the potential to delay, reduce or hinder hydrogen permeation. Hydrogen barrier coatings are expected to enable steels, which are susceptible to hydrogen embrittlement, specifically cost-effective low alloy-steels or light-weight high-strength steels, for applications in a hydrogen economy. Predominantly, ceramic coating materials have been investigated for this purpose, including oxides, nitrides and carbides. In this review, the state of the art with respect to hydrogen permeation is discussed for a variety of coatings. Al2O3, TiAlN and TiC appear to be the most promising candidates from a large pool of ceramic materials. Coating methods are compared with respect to their ability to produce layers with suitable quality and their potential for scaling up for industrial use. Different setups for the characterisation of hydrogen permeability are discussed, using both gaseous hydrogen and hydrogen originating from an electrochemical reaction. Finally, possible pathways for improvement and optimisation of hydrogen barrier coatings are outlined.

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