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Phase-field modeling of microstructure evolution in low-carbon steels during intercritical annealing Zhu, Benqiang


Intercritical annealing is used widely in the steel industry to produce advanced high strength steels for automotive applications, e.g. dual-phase steels. A phase-field model is develop to describe microstructure evolution during intercritical annealing of low-carbon steels. The phase-field model consists of individual sub-models for ferrite recrystallization, austenite formation and austenite to ferrite transformation. In particular, a Gibbs-energy dissipation model is coupled to the phase-field model to describe the effects of solutes on migration of austenite/ferrite interfaces. The model is applied to a low-carbon steel with a cold-rolled pearlite/ferrite microstructure suitable for industrial production of dual-phase steels (DP600 grade). The sub-model parameters, e.g. nucleation parameters and interface mobilities, are tuned using experimental data. The interaction of concurrent ferrite recrystallization and austenite formation is investigated using the developed model. The simulation results reveal that ferrite recrystallization can be inhibited by the pinning effect of austenite particles and concurrent ferrite recrystallization can lead to intragranular distribution of austenite in the final microstructure. The transition of austenite morphology from a network structure to a banded structure with increasing heating rates is replicated by the phase-field model. The model is validated using a simulated industrial intercritical-annealing cycle. Moreover, the developed phase-field model is used to describe cyclic phase transformations in the intercritical region for a plain-carbon steel and a manganese-alloyed low-carbon steel. The consideration of Gibbs-energy dissipation in the phase-field model rationalizes the existence of stagnant stages during cyclic phase transformations in the manganese-alloyed low-carbon steel. In summary, the developed model provides a single tool that is able to describe various physical phenomena occurring in an entire intercritical-annealing cycle. Phase-field modeling can be a promising approach for developing process models for advanced steels in the future.

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