Following the ASME codes, the design of pipelines and pressure vessels for transportation or storage of high-pressure hydrogen gas requires measurements of fatigue crack growth rates at design pressure. However, performing tests in high pressure hydrogen gas can be very costly as only a few laboratories have the unique capabilities. Recently, Code Case 2938 was accepted in ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code (BPVC) VIII-3 allowing for design curves to be used in lieu of performing fatigue crack growth rate (da/dN vs. ΔK) and fracture threshold (KIH) testing in hydrogen gas. The design curves were based on data generated at 100 MPa H2 on SA-372 and SA-723 grade steels; however, the data used to generate the design curves are limited to measurements of ΔK values greater than 6 MPa m1/2. The design curves can be extrapolated to lower ΔK (< 6 MPa m1/2), but the threshold stress intensity factor (ΔKth) has not been measured in hydrogen gas. In this work, decreasing ΔK tests were performed at select hydrogen pressures to explore threshold (ΔKth) for ferritic-based structural steels (e.g. pipelines and pressure vessels). The results were compared to decreasing ΔK tests in air, showing that the fatigue crack growth rates in hydrogen gas appear to yield similar or even slightly lower da/dN values compared to the curves in air at low ΔK values when tests were performed at stress ratios of 0.5 and 0.7. Correction for crack closure was implemented, which resulted in better agreement with the design curves and provide an upper bound throughout the entire ΔK range, even as the crack growth rates approach ΔKth. This work gives further evidence of the utility of the design curves described in Code Case 2938 of the ASME BPVC VIII-3 for construction of high pressure hydrogen vessels.

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