While much is known about damaging embrittlement effects of hydrogen on metals, relatively little is known about the effects of high pressure hydrogen on polymers. The hydrogen infrastructure can be broken into three categories: (1) distribution and delivery, (2) fueling stations, and (3) fuel cell systems of which require a broad selection of materials to meet the rigorous demands of the environment that they are subjected too. The selection of compatible materials in the most effective combinations allow for safe and cost-effective designs and component construction. Using non-metallic materials are an essential element in this mix of material. The effects of operating conditions of the high-pressure hydrogen environment is important to the myriad of applications supporting the hydrogen infrastructure including applications of compressors, seals, valves, and actuators.   High-pressure environmental conditions range from cryogenic storage 77K (-196°C) and 70 MPa to as high as 473K (200°C) in some compressors.  A typical application temperature range for gaseous hydrogen systems is 233K (-40°C) to 358 K (85°C). The categories of interests of hydrogen effects are:

  • Permeation
  • Physical Stability (property changes)
  • Dynamic Frictional Wear
  • Rapid Cycling Effects
  • Material Contamination

To support the needs of the hydrogen community, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratory, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, have been developing test methodologies for non-metallic materials for hydrogen compatibility. The team has been collaborating with international researchers in developing test methods and collecting data for development of a non-metallic database reference for the community.