The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Department of Defense teamed up to create a series of weld filler materials that could dramatically improve high-strength steel repair in vehicles, bridges, and pipelines. This novel weld wire could help revitalize America’s aging infrastructures, which in 2021 received a C- grade from the American Society of Civil Engineers.
The invention from DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and the U.S. Army enables onsite welding without costly, laborious heat treatments typically used to reduce residual stresses and material distortion. It solves a major problem of welded steels that occurs when hydrogen atoms enter the metal during welding and reduce the metal’s ductility, toughness, and strength. Subsequently, high tensile residual stress leads to perilous cracking.
“The filler material that ORNL and the U.S. Army invented is a unique and game-changing solution for residual stress control, distortion reduction, and avoidance of hydrogen-induced cracking for a wide range of structural steels,” said Zhili Feng, who leads ORNL’s Materials Joining Group. He heads research and development programs to advance materials joining and manufacturing for automotive, nuclear energy, fossil energy, hydrogen, and defense technologies.