Offshore wind turbines often involve important engineering challenges such as the improvement of hydrogen embrittlement resistance of the turbine bearings. These elements frequently suffer the so-called phenomenon of hydrogen-assisted rolling-contact fatigue (HA-RCF) as a consequence of the synergic action of the surrounding harsh environment (the lubricant) supplying hydrogen to the material and the cyclic multiaxial stress state caused by in-service mechanical loading. Thus the complex phenomenon could be classified as hydrogen-assisted rolling-contact multiaxial fatigue (HA-RC-MF). This paper analyses, from the mechanical and the chemical points of view, the so-called ball-on-rod test, widely used to evaluate the hydrogen embrittlement susceptibility of turbine bearings. Both the stress-strain states and the steady-state hydrogen concentration distribution are studied, so that a better elucidation can be obtained of the potential fracture places where the hydrogen could be more harmful and, consequently, where the turbine bearings could fail during their life in service.
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