Plastic Deformation and Hysteresis for Hydrogen Storage in Pd-Rh Alloys

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The hysteresis observed when reversibly absorbing and desorbing hydrogen in metals is currently not fully understood. In general, a hysteresis represents energy that is dissipated during a cycle, but the underlying mechanism of dissipation is still uncertain. It has been suggested that the hysteresis arises either from plastic work, or from elastic strains associated with the accommodation of the hydride phase, or from both. We present here experimental evidence that implicates plastic deformation as the cause of the hysteresis in a Pd–Rh alloy. The plastic work is evident from the increased dislocation density, from the accumulation of surface steps from slip bands, from line broadening of X-ray diffraction peaks, and from an increase in hardness with the number of hydriding cycles. A model of this plastic work is developed that depends on an effective yield strength. When this model is correlated with the measured hysteresis losses, two values are found for the effective yield strength. The lower value is shown to agree with yield strength values derived from Vickers hardness measurements. The hysteresis areas for repeated cycles of absorption and desorption decrease little with the number of cycles which is reminiscent of the plastic deformation hysteresis during low-cycle fatigue of metals. This similarity further confirms the plastic nature of the hydriding hysteresis.