13 June 2023

New in our test portfolio: the ‘Hydrogen Embrittlement Test’

More and more manufacturers of hydrogen tanks and components are busy setting up mass production to be a part of the important role hydrogen is set to play in fuelling our economy. As one of the global leaders in hydrogen testing, we recently added an important new test method to our portfolio at the Kiwa Automotive Lab in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands.

As the global transition toward a more sustainable future unfolds, hydrogen is fast gaining recognition as a carbon-free energy carrier with a major role to play in industrial processes, in the automotive industry, and as a storage medium for surplus energy. One of the challenges on the road toward a more hydrogen-fuelled and cleaner economy is to ensure that materials used up and down the energy chain are ‘hydrogen-proof’. The new test we offer has been designed for this precise purpose. As one of the very few labs in the world that offer the test, our Automotive Lab in Apeldoorn is attracting clients from Germany, Italy, Japan, the US and other parts of the world.  ‘This test makes our hydrogen portfolio more complete, meaning we can act as a one-stop shop for manufacturers working in the hydrogen supply chain’, says Test Engineer Marijn Palland.

The smallest element in the universe

Hydrogen is the smallest and most prevalent element in the universe and can enter into materials, making them unstable and more brittle. This can cause - sometimes catastrophic - failure, affecting the entire hydrogen supply chain. ‘Using hydrogen as a fuel means all materials coming into contact with hydrogen need to be robust and meet very stringent safety requirements,’ says Marijn. ‘Ensuring that components comply with those requirements involves a wide range of tests under extreme conditions. The new test, the Hydrogen Embrittlement Test according to the ISO 11114-4 Method A - Disc Method, equips us to do that better than ever.’

Searching for the bursting point

Marijn explains that the Hydrogen Embrittlement test involves 15 discs of the clients’ materials, which are put under extreme pressure with helium, and then with hydrogen, until they burst. ‘Each disc is tested under different pressures and over varying lengths of time,’ he says. ‘One of the tests takes up to five days.’

The test can be carried out with other gases and, if necessary, in different cyclic and climatic conditions. The differences between the results for the helium and hydrogen bursting points are compared, and given a ratio. If a disc bursts at 700 bar with helium and at 350 bar with hydrogen, the ratio is 2, which is the minimum requirement: a ratio of 2 or more indicates hydrogen compatibility. ‘An outcome lower than 2 is an indication that hydrogen embrittlement could occur in that material and that the material is therefore not fit for purpose: it is not safe,’ says Marijn.

Rapid innovation

The new test method is a welcome answer to the rapid pace of development and innovation in the field of hydrogen. Explains Marijn, ‘The market is moving fast and in some industries we are now looking at mass production, for example of hydrogen tanks in the automotive industry. Our expanded testing capacity means Kiwa is fully equipped, with highly qualified and experienced staff, to help manufacturers and sub-suppliers of hydrogen components from all sectors to secure high-quality materials. This test means that as a client you can maximise development, save time and costs, ensure safe products, build trust with potential customers or clients - and get ahead of the game in the hydrogen economy.’

Independent and traceable

Kiwa is among the world’s top 20 leaders in Testing, Inspection and Certification (TIC). All Kiwa tests are independent and traceable. Kiwa is a member of the NVCi, the Dutch Association of Certification services, works closely with the Netherlands and German Vehicle Authorities - RDW and KBA, respectively - and can test according to North American standards. Many clients from around the world rely on Kiwa to help them comply with relevant rules and standards by testing and certifying products in accordance with local and international rules and regulations.

Contact our Hydrogen Laboratory in Apeldoorn or book a Kiwa test today.

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