September 7, 2023
Journal Article

A diffusion-deformation model with damage for polymer undergoing rapid decompression failure


Green hydrogen is emerging as one of the most promising alternatives to replace fossil fuels. While hydrogen gas has a good energy density by weight, its poor energy density by volume requires it to be stored under high pressure for commercial use. The hydrogen infrastructure developed to handle this high pressure hydrogen contains multiple components made of polymers as sealing agents. Although polymers do not react chemically with hydrogen gas, they undergo a mechanical failure when high pressure hydrogen gas is suddenly depressurized. This phenomenon known as 'rapid decompression failure' occurs due to the diffusion of hydrogen through polymer and getting trapped inside pre-existing cavities or voids. In this paper, a continuum mechanics-based coupled diffusion-deformation-damage model was developed to predict the hydrogen distribution, stress distribution, and damage propagation inside the polymer while it undergoes rapid decompression failure. The polymer was modeled as a hyperelastic material because it represents the nonlinear material response observed in uniaxial tensile tests perfectly. The effects of hydrogen diffusivity, pre-existing cavity size, cavity location, applied hydrogen pressure, and depressurization rate on damage initiation were studied. It was found that the coefficient of diffusion plays an important role in damage initiation and damage was mostly concentrated in the inside areas rather than near the surface. Experiments were conducted with EPDM polymer which agreed well with the predicted trends using the given model. The effect of adding carbon black and silica filler particles and plasticizer to the pure EPDM polymer was also studied. It was found that damage during RDF decreases with the addition of fillers, but increases with the addition of the plasticizer. Finally, the damage evolution in the presence of two cavities was also studied, and was found that the interaction of stress fields around the cavities alters the damage occurring during RDF.

Published: September 7, 2023


Kulkarni S.S., K. Choi, N.C. Menon, and K.L. Simmons. 2023. A diffusion-deformation model with damage for polymer undergoing rapid decompression failure. Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids 178. PNNL-SA-179864. doi:10.1016/j.jmps.2023.105348