Although hydrogen is considered to be a future alternative to fossil-fuels, there arc certain factors preventing it from taking off today. For instance, there is the problem of embrittlement: when steel, aluminum and magnesium are constantly exposed to hydrogen, their ductility is reduced. This could lead to sudden failure of the fuel tank, fuel cell parts, ball bearings, and other components. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics and Materials IWM (franuhofer.de) are working to bring hydrogen power a step closer to reality by developing materials and manufacturing processes that are compatible with the element.
"We are investigating how and at which speed hydrogen migrates through a metal," says researcher Nicholas Winzer. "We are able to detect the points at which the element accumulates in the material and where it doesn't."
Since problems with the metals result from the diffusible, or mobile, portion of hydrogen, researchers have separated it from the rest of the hydrogen content. They're then able to test the material under several conditions to determine how resistant the material is to the exposure to hydrogen. Results from the lab tests are used for computer simulation, where hydrogen embrittlement in the metals is calculated. Testing at the lab is ongoing.
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|Title Annotation:||Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics and Materials IWM|
|Comment:||Hydrogen-compatible manufacturing.(Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics and Materials IWM)|
|Publication:||Automotive Design & Production|
|Article Type:||Brief article|
|Date:||Nov 1, 2010|
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