Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Metals & Hydrogen J01

Hydrogen in steel visualized by neutron imaging

A. Griesche (1)1 , B. Pfretzschner (1)1 , T. Schaupp (1)1 , M. Schulz (2)2 , N. Kardjilov (3)3

  • (1) 1

    Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und –prüfung (BAM), Germany

  • (2) 2

    FRM II Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Zentrum, Technische Universität München, Germany

  • (3) 3

    Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie (HZB), Germany


Neutron cameras allow visualizing hydrogen distributions with radiographic or tomographic imaging methods in iron and steel. The necessary contrast between hydrogen and iron stems from the high difference in the total neutron cross section of both elements. This allows e.g. the in situ measurement of hydrogen mass flow inside cm thick steel samples with a temporal resolution of 20 s 15 using neutron radiography as well as the quantitative measurement of hydrogen accumulations at the crack’s inner surfaces in hydrogen embrittled iron samples 16 with neutron tomography. We could detect directly gaseous hydrogen in the crack cavities and we measured the gas pressure. This new quality of the information on a micrometer scale allows new insights for the analysis of hydrogen-induced damage mechanisms. Further, this method is non-destructive and provides local information in situ and in three dimensions with a spatial resolution of 20-30 µm.

In this contribution, we show examples that demonstrate the spatial and temporal resolution of the neutron radiography and tomography methods in order to visualize and quantify hydrogen accumulations at cracks. The measurements were performed at the research reactor BER II of the HZB in Berlin and at the FRM II reactor of the neutron source Heinz Maier-Leibnitz in Garching.