Complete and Incomplete Wetting of Ferrite Grain Boundaries by Austenite in the Low-Alloyed Ferritic Steel
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Low-carbon low-alloyed ferritic steels are the main material for the production of high-strength pipes for the transportation of oil and gas. The formation of brittle carbide network during the lifetime of a pipeline could be a reason for a catastrophic failure. Among other reasons, it can be controlled by the morphology of grain boundary (GB) carbides. The microstructure of a low-alloyed ferritic steel containing 0.09 at.% C and small amounts of Si, Mn, Nb, Cu, Al, Ni, and Cr was studied between 300 and 900 °C. The samples were annealed very long time (700 to 4000 h) in order to produce the equilibrium morphology of phases. The (α-Fe)/(α-Fe) GBs can be either completely or incompletely wetted (covered) by the γ-Fe (austenite) above the temperature of eutectoid transition. The portion of (α-Fe)/(α-Fe) GBs completely wetted by γ-Fe is around 90% and does not change much between 750 and 900 °C. The (α-Fe)/(α-Fe) GBs can be either completely or incompletely wetted (covered) by the Fe3C (cementite) below the temperature of eutectoid transition. The portion of (α-Fe)/(α-Fe) GBs completely wetted by Fe3C changes below 680 °C between 67 and 77%. The formation of the network of brittle cementite layers between ductile ferrite grains can explain the catastrophic failure of gas- and oil-pipelines after a certain lifetime.
Keywordsfailure of pipelines ferritic steels grain boundaries low-alloyed steels wetting
The authors thank for the financial support the Programme of Creation and Development of the National University of Science and Technology “MISiS”, Russian Foundation of Basic Research (contracts 09-03-00784, 08-08-91302) and Department of Science and Technology of the Government of India (contract RUSP-873).
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