Hydrogen Effects on Materials Laboratory

National Laboratory: 
Sandia National Laboratories
Characterization Class: 
Extreme Environment Testing
Mechanical Behavior of Materials

Specialized systems in the Hydrogen Effects on Materials Laboratory, known as HEML, allow characterization of structural materials under in-service conditions, such as hydrogen gas pressures up to 138 MPa, temperatures from ambient to 203 K, and cyclic mechanical loading. Examples of materials testing under hydrogen gas exposure featured in the HEML include stainless steels for fuel cell vehicle balance of plant components and Cr-Mo steels for stationary seamless pressure vessels. HEML’s capabilities include dynamic-load characterization in high-pressure hydrogen gas, static-load crack growth characterization in high-pressure hydrogen gas, and thermal precharging of materials with high-pressure hydrogen gas.

Capability Bounds: 

HEML’s capability limitations, include:
Static-loading Crack-growth System
-Wedge-opening load (WOL) and double-cantilever beam (DCB) specimens
-H2 pressure up to 200 MPa
-Temperature -70 to 170°C.
Dynamic-loading Crack-growth System
-Compact tension (CT) and single-edge notch (SEN) specimens
-H2 pressure up to 138 MPa
-New pressure vessel design with target temperatures -100 to 200°C.
Tensile, Compressive, Fracture, and Fatigue Testing Cel
-Mechanically stressing specimens in a servo-hydraulic load frame to forces of +/- 20,000 lbs.
Elevated Temperature Hydrogen Gas Charging
-Range in pressures from vacuum to 20,000 psi with temperatures up to 300°C
-Gases include hydrogen, deuterium, and helium.

Unique Aspects: 

HEML is designated as an enabling capability for the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy.


Users are required to receive specialized training and approved access. Collaborative work is performed by Sandia National Laboratories staff under designated projects and Work for Others agreements.

Single Point of Contact: 

Name: Christopher San Marchi
Email: cwsanma@sandia.gov
Phone: 925-294-4880

  1. Somerday, B., San Marchi, C., and Nibur, K., Measurement of Fatigue Crack Growth Rates for SA-372 Gr. J Steel in 100 MPa Hydrogen Gas Following Article KD-10, 2013 ASME Pressure Vessels and Piping Division Conference, ASME, New York, PVP2013-97455, 2013.
  2. Nibur, K.A., Somerday, B.P., San Marchi, C., Foulk, J.W., Dadfarnia, M., and Sofronis, P., The Relationship Between Crack-Tip Strain and Subcritical Cracking Thresholds for Steels in High- Pressure Hydrogen Gas, Metallurgical and Materials Transactions A, 44A, 2013, pp. 248-269.
  3. San Marchi, C., Somerday, B.P., Tang, X. and Schiroky, G.H., Effects of Alloy Composition and Strain Hardening on Tensile Fracture of Hydrogen-Precharged Type 316 Stainless Steels, International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, 33, 2008, pp. 889-904. ?
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