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Structure and properties of complex transformation products in Nb/Mo-microalloyed steels Reichert, Jennifer M.

Abstract

Advanced line pipe steels are microalloyed with Nb to promote the formation of complex microstructures leading to the required mechanical properties. In addition to its role during thermo-mechanical processing Nb in solution affects significantly the austenite decomposition kinetics and the resulting microstructure. A systematic study has been carried out to quantify the influence of Nb on the austenite decomposition in a commercial X80 line pipe steel containing 0.06C- 0.034Nb- 0.24Mo- 0.012Ti- 0.0005N (in wt. %) for a variety of austenite grain sizes and cooling rates that are relevant for the heat affected zone. To quantify the influence of Nb on transformation kinetics, two distinct amounts of Nb in solution were obtained through carefully designed reheat treatments prior to continuous cooling transformation tests conducted with a Gleeble 3500. The amount of Nb in solution was quantified based on ageing experiments. To investigate the combined influence of Nb and Mo on austenite decomposition two laboratory cast low-carbon steels containing 0.06 wt. % Nb and 0.045 wt. % Nb and 0.145 wt. % Mo, respectively, were compared with the X80 steel. The obtained transformation products include irregular ferrite, upper and lower bainite and martensite/ austenite. Electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD) was used to distinguish upper and lower bainite based on their orientation relationship with the prior austenite and to quantify microstructural features which are relevant for the tensile properties. Based on the quantitative measures obtained from the EBSD analysis structure-property relationships were developed to predict the yield strength, uniform elongation and ultimate tensile strength of the studied X80 line pipe steel. An effective grain size was defined including martensite/ austenite to consider grain refinement and the kernel average misorientation was used to quantify dislocation strengthening. A phenomenological model was applied and modified to capture the austenite decomposition of the X80 steel considering the effect of prior austenite grain size, amount of Nb in solution and cooling rate. The amount of martensite/ austenite depends on the surrounding matrix microstructure and is predicted as a function of the transformation start temperature with an empirical fit.

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