The effect of heat treatment on microstructure and cryogenic fracture properties in 5Ni and 9Ni steel

  • J. R. Strife
  • D. E. Passoja
Mechanical Behavior


Heat treatments were utilized in 5Ni and 9Ni steel which resulted in the development of tempered microstructures which contained either no measurable retained austenite (<0.5 pct) or approximately 4 to 5 pct retained austenite as determined by X-ray diffraction. Microstructural observations coupled with the results of tensile testing indicated that the formation of retained austenite correlated with a decrease in carbon content of the matrix. Relative values ofK IC at 77 K were estimated from slow bend precracked Charpy data using both the COD and equivalent energy measurements. In addition, Charpy impact properties at 77 K were determined. In the 9Ni alloy, optimum fracture toughness was achieved in specimens which contained retained austenite. This was attributed to changes in yield and work hardening behavior which accompanied the microstructural changes. In the 5Ni alloy, fracture toughness equivalent to that observed in the 9Ni alloy was developed in grain refined and tempered microstructures containing <0.5 pct retained austenite. A decrease in fracture toughness was observed in grain refined 5Ni specimens containing 3.8 pct retained austenite due to the premature onset of unstable cracking. This was attributed to the transformation of retained austenite to brittle martensite during deformation. It was concluded that the formation of thermally stable retained austenite is beneficial to the fracture toughness of Ni steels at 77 K as a result of austenite gettering carbon from the matrix during tempering. However, it was also concluded that the mechanical stability of the retained austenite is critical in achieving a favorable enhancement of cryogenic fracture toughness properties.


Austenite Martensite Fracture Toughness Charpy Impact Carbide Precipitation 
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Copyright information

© American society for metals and the metallurgical society of AIME 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. R. Strife
    • 1
  • D. E. Passoja
    • 2
  1. 1.United Technologies Research CenterEast Hartford
  2. 2.Central Scientific LaboratoryUnion Carbide CorporationTarrytown

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