Prof. Joichi SUGIMURA
      (Kyushu University)
Deputy Director,
   Prof. Junichiro YAMABE
      (Fukuoka University)
Researcher, 1
Visiting Researcher, 1
Technical staff, 2
Research Assistant, 1
Administrative staff, 1
Assistant, 1

   Welcome to the HydroMate website! As fuel cells are being introduced in the market, we can now start seeing a future society where hydrogen is used as an energy carrier in of many aspects our world. Developments in hydrogen technologies are in progress not only in the transport sector, but also in electric power generation and energy storage. One of the advantages of using hydrogen is that it can be stored and transported in various different forms. Among many methods developed, hydrogen storage in the form of ultra-high pressure gas is employed in fuel cell vehicles and will also be used in other applications.

   When using hydrogen it is essential to ensure safety, as it is a flammable gas, but it is also important to account for the hydrogen embrittlement of metals that are to be used in hydrogen systems. Many steels suffer from a reduction of strength and ductility when hydrogen penetrates into them, and for this reason the facilities in hydrogen systems are built using particular types of steels that are not susceptible to hydrogen embrittlement. However, these materials have lower strength and are much more expensive than normal steels. In order to promote the introduction and use of hydrogen, it is essential to develop reliable and economically feasible hydrogen systems by using structural materials of lower cost and higher strength.

   The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) and HYDROGENIUS in Kyushu University have been collaborating in studying steels for hydrogen in a NEDO (New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization, a governmental organization) project. The collaboration aims at a short-term practical study for increasing the types of steels to be used in high pressure hydrogen systems. The project has contributed to product developments in industries and the revision of high pressure regulations by evaluating strength data and findings on mechanisms that lie behind the data. However, in order to seek materials with lower cost and higher strength against hydrogen in a long-term perspective, it is vital to continue fundamental studies that explore and create new ideas on the effect of hydrogen on strength. This basic knowledge will directly contribute to future hydrogen related technologies for next generation automobiles and energy supply industries.

   The aim of HydroMate is to create a unique environment for conducting advanced fundamental studies on the effects of hydrogen on materials strength. The strong collaboration between the researchers in AIST Tsukuba Center and Kyushu University in HydroMate will enable a systematic understanding of nano-, meso- and macro-mechanisms by fusion of mechanical engineering and materials science that has not been achieved before. We break down the complicated phenomena of hydrogen embrittlement into elementary processes, and study each of the processes in different scales in terms of strength, behavior of hydrogen and response of materials. Our goal is to differentiate these elementary results in order to improve our understanding, and eventually contribute to the development of innovative materials for hydrogen.