Dialogue with Emerging Engineers

Mary O’Brien, Colorado School of Mines

Mary O’Brien is a Ph.D. candidate at Colorado School of Mines.

Describe your current research project. How would you describe the impact of your work? Were there any surprising findings yet?

My current research is on the effect of microstructure on hydrogen induced cracking in pipeline steels exposed to high partial pressures of hydrogen sulfide gas. It is a hydrogen embrittlement mechanism that occurs in the absence of applied stress and can cause catastrophic failures in oil and gas pipelines. The current paradigm in this area of research is that the strength of the steel, inclusion population, and chemical segregation, are the only variables we need to be concerned about when designing pipelines. I would say the current impact of my work, albeit ongoing, is showing that there are other microstructural variables that we can tweak as metallurgists to affect this cracking phenomenon. The eventual impact of this work, if all goes well, is manufacturing a higher strength steel that is...

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