The present work evaluates hydrogen induced cracking by performing an elaborate EBSD (Electron BackScatter Diffraction) study in a steel with transformation induced plasticity (TRIP-assisted steel). This type of steel exhibits a multiphase microstructure which undergoes a deformation induced phase transformation. Additionally, each microstructural constituent displays a different behavior in the presence of hydrogen. The aim of this study is to obtain a better understanding on the mechanisms governing hydrogen induced crack initiation and propagation in the hydrogen saturated multiphase structure. Tensile tests on notched samples combined with in-situ electrochemical hydrogen charging were conducted. The tests were interrupted at stresses just after reaching the tensile strength, i.e. before macroscopic failure of the material. This allowed to study hydrogen induced crack initiation and propagation by SEM (Scanning Electron Microscopy) and EBSD. A correlation was found between the presence of martensite, which is known to be very susceptible to hydrogen embrittlement, and the initiation of hydrogen induced cracks. Initiation seems to occur mostly by martensite decohesion. High strain regions surrounding the hydrogen induced crack tips indicate that further crack propagation may have occurred by the HELP (hydrogen-enhanced localized plasticity) mechanism. Small hydrogen induced cracks located nearby the notch are typically S-shaped and crack propagation was dominantly transgranularly. The second stage of crack propagation consists of stepwise cracking by coalescence of small hydrogen induced cracks.
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