Design criteria for high-temperature steels strengthened with vanadium nitride
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Fe-8-12Cr ferritomartensitic steels are widely used in the power generation, petrochemical and nuclear industries where they are subject to high operating temperatures and stresses. Resistance to creep deformation is therefore a critical materials property. One method of providing creep resistance is to precipitate a fine homogeneous distribution of vanadium nitride (VN) particles in the matrix. Maximizing this precipitation hardening effect requires a high nitrogen content, but this could cause gas bubble formation during conventional fabrication processes. It is therefore necessary to determine how much N can be added without encountering such problems. Phase stability calculations, using Thermo-Calc, were carried out to find high-N compositions to optimize the fraction of VN and the fabrication route for obtaining fine particles. Several experimental compositions, including nine high-nitrogen alloys, were fabricated as ingots; out of these, two exhibited porosity Thermo-Calc predicts that, in all of the high-nitrogen alloys, nitrogen gas is a stable phase around the solidus temperature. It is evident that porosity cannot simply be predicted from the presence of the gas phase on the equilibrium diagram. However, detailed analysis of the equilibrium phases predicted in these alloys, including their variation with composition, allowed a porosity criterion to be obtained. This criterion links porosity formation to the nature of the liquid-to-solid transformation. Further calculations were carried out to predict the dependence of gas phase evolution on both composition and pressure. Thermodynamic calculations are a valuable tool for the design of these industrially important alloys. Input from experimental data has enabled the refinement of the initial design criteria such that it should now be possible to propose compositions with high VN hardening but without the risk of porosity.
Keywordsnitrogen phase diagrams porosity steel thermody-namics vanadium
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