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Hydrogen Materials Compatibility Studies

EMSL Project ID


The hydrogen internal combustion engine (H2ICE), based on direct injection (DI) technology has the best potential to provide very high power density with diesel-like efficiency and very low emissions. These advanced engines may have a large impact on the evolution of the hydrogen economy and serve as a bridge to fuel cell technology. Indeed, it is possible that coupled with hybrid electric vehicle technology the efficiency of the H2 DI ICE might compete with that of the fuel cell. Greenhouse gas emissions (at the vehicle) and other carbon-related emissions (CO, HC's) are near zero. Currently, the greatest challenge in developing a robust H2 DI engine technology lies in overcoming fuel system materials issues, which affect durability. Three key issues are known to exist in the fuel injection system are 1) impact wear in the high-strength steels in the injector, 2) sliding wear/galling in the injector steels, and 3) degradation of the piezoelectric actuation system for the injector. The principal part of the project will expose and test both high-strength steels and piezoelectric materials, such as PZT, in high-pressure hydrogen autoclaves in 326/16A. In support of that activity, we propose to study hydrogen uptake, diffusion, and surface chemistry using advanced tools at EMSL. In particular we will either expose steels, pure Fe, or pure Ni to high-pressure hydrogen and transfer them to EMSL or use existing EMSL facilities and AR-4%H2 gas mixtures to expose samples in situ within EMSL. The purpose of the exposure is to determine the amount of hydrogen dissolved in the materials and to determine its location within the material.

Project Details

Project type
Large-Scale EMSL Research
Start Date
End Date


Principal Investigator

Charles Henager
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Team Members

Kyle Alvine
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

James Holbery
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory