RP3.4-08 Assessing coating damage and hydrogen embrittlement risks of steel pipelines under the combined effects of hydrogen from external cathodic protection and internal hydrogen containing fuels

Executive Summary

Cathodic protection (CP) and external coatings can prevent hydrogen from exiting the pipe wall. CP can have a similar effect as electrochemical hydrogen charging whilst external barrier coatings could trap hydrogen at the metal/soil interface and produce a backpressure for hydrogen permeating through the wall. This backpressure could also result in extensive coating damage.

This research aims at addressing these issues by assessing hydrogen embrittlement behaviour and coating damage under the combined effects of cathodic protection and external coatings with high pressure hydrogen fuels.

The scope of research will take 18 months.

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Commencement / End Date January 2023 to July 2024
Outcomes / Impact
  • To evaluate the capability and suitability of current gas transmission pipelines for the transport of hydrogen through a more holistic and reliable technical evaluation of HE risks under the combined effects of internal hydrogen, external CP generated hydrogen and potential trapping of hydrogen by external coatings.
  • To understand hydrogen trapping at the metal/coatings interface and blisters formation that could cause extensive damage to pipeline coatings and to provide solutions to avoid this hydrogen induced coating damage.
  • Create awareness in the pipeline design community regarding the potential negative effects of pipeline external conditions on hydrogen embrittlement and coating damage.
  • Identify conservative yet realistic worst-case scenarios for hydrogen embrittlement to be used for future technical feasibility studies.
  • Help to devise a procedure to account for the effect of conditions at the exterior of the pipeline in the assessment of HE risk.
  • Maintain operating conditions that would not result in accelerated coating damage due to hydrogen permeation.
  • To empower Australia as a net zero emissions fuels exporter.
  • To enable Australia’s energy sector to adapt its infrastructure to net zero emissions fuels in a safe and long-term reliable manner.


Partners Deakin University, Melbourne University, Jemena, APA, CCE, Energy Safe Victoria, Petroleum and Gas at Resources Safety & Health Queensland, GPA, AGIG and SEA Gas.
Research Contact

Douglas Proud

Research & Utilisation Program Coordinator