Impact area: structural materials and metallurgy

Partners: Manchester, Cambridge and Illinois

The challenge: The oil and gas industry needs to be able to operate in increasingly challenging environments, in deep water for instance where pressure reaches up to 20,000 psi and temperatures greater than 200°C.

Images: left shows nanoparticles within the steel microstructure to trap hydrogen. Image right shows nano-layers to reduce wear.

Our objective: We want to develop new alloys (or light-weight composite materials) which can operate under these challenging conditions, are resistant to corrosion and erosion and can reliably extend the lifetime of operations.

Within ICAM the portfolio of projects related to structural materials and metallurgy are aimed at:

  • Increasing integrity, reliability and lifetimes of facilities (flow lines, pumps and infrastructure).
  • Reducing intervention frequency to replace corroded structures or the amount of chemicals used to control corrosion.
  • Increasing confidence in design, performance and operation of facilities.
  • Increasing the understanding and influence of microstructures on metallurgical integrity.

Research solution: Our research, through understanding the fundamental science associated with issues such as hydrogen embrittlement and corrosion aims to develop novel hydrogen resistant materials, as well as materials with improved wear tolerance and corrosion resistance for structural and mechanical applications. 

This is underpinned by:

  • The design and development of novel steel alloys resistant to hydrogen embrittlement.
  • The development of improved whole life design and assessment models to better predict the performance of facilities.
  • Fundamental understanding of welds and the impact of flaws in the welding process.

Underpinning science – hydrogen embrittlement: The majority of structural steels have a ferritic structure in which hydrogen is extremely mobile and can diffuse into voids between metal atoms or at grain boundaries. Such diffusible hydrogen can be attracted to areas of stress concentrations and locally alter the behaviour of the metal in a detrimental manner.

We are developing novel steels designed to trap hydrogen within the metal microstructure without adversely affecting the inherent mechanical properties of the new steel alloy.