To investigate the influence of hydrogen on the tensile and fatigue life properties of welded joints of 304/308 austenitic stainless steels, slow strain rate tensile (SSRT) tests and fatigue life tests were conducted in laboratory air using hydrogen exposed specimens. The specimens were fabricated from welded plates, and to elucidate the role of weld structure on hydrogen-induced degradation, the welded joint was solution-treated. In the SSRT tests of the as-welded (AW) joint, a non-exposed specimen failed at the base metal (BM), whereas a hydrogen-exposed specimen failed near the weld toe. In the case of the solution-treated-welded (STW) joint, the non-exposed specimen failed at the part of solution treated weld metal, whereas an H-exposed specimen failed near the weld toe. As a result, internal hydrogen significantly degraded the elongation of the AW joint.

In the fatigue test, all the specimens failed near the weld toe. Internal hydrogen degraded the fatigue life considerably. However, the pre-charging led to little, if any, reduction in the fatigue limit. Similarly to the AW joint, hydrogen gas exposure notably degraded the fatigue life of the STW joint and led to little reduction in the fatigue limit. To investigate the relationship between the hydrogen-induced degradation and strain-induced martensitic transformation during fatigue testing, the volume fraction of ferrite in the broken specimens was measured by a ferrite scope. The volume fraction of martensitic transformation increased with an increase in the stress amplitude. These experimental results implied that the hydrogen-induced fatigue life degradation in the welded joint was closely related to the martensitic transformation during the fatigue process. The mechanisms of both the degradation in fatigue life and nondegradation in fatigue limit will be discussed further.

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