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The Stress-Relief Cracking Susceptibility of a

New Ferritic Steel — Part 1: Single-Pass Heat-

Affected Zone Simulations
The effects of energy input and postweld heat treatment temperature on the stress-
relief cracking susceptibility of a new ferritic steel were investigated and compared
to conventional 2.25Cr-1Mo steel


ABSTRACT. The stress-relief cracking ductility and some microductility when fect on the ductility of HCM2S. The hard-
(SRC) susceptibility of single-pass welds tested at 325 MPa. The ductility de- ness of the CGHAZ for 2.25Cr-1Mo steel
in a new ferritic steel, HCM2S, has been creased significantly when tested at 270 decreased significantly after PWHT, but it
evaluated and compared to 2.25Cr-1Mo MPa, but it was still higher than that of remained constant for HCM2S. The dif-
steel using Gleeble thermal simulation HCM2S at each test condition. The stress- ferences in stress-relief cracking response
techniques. HCM2S was found to be relief cracking susceptibility was based are discussed in terms of the differences
more susceptible to stress-relief cracking on the ductility and resultant microstruc- in composition and expected carbide
than 2.25Cr-1Mo steel. Simulated tures. Using these criteria, HCM2S is precipitation sequence for each alloy
coarse-grained heat-affected zones considered “extremely” to “highly sus- during PWHT.
(CGHAZ) were produced that corre- ceptible” to stress-relief cracking at each
spond to the thermal cycles expected energy input and postweld heat treat- Introduction
when depositing single-pass welds using ment, whereas 2.25Cr-1Mo steel would
a range of energy inputs and tested at var- only be considered “slightly susceptible” 2.25Cr-1Mo steel is commonly used
ious simulated postweld heat treatment tested at 325 MPa. The 2.25Cr-1Mo steel for high-temperature applications in
(PWHT) temperatures. Both alloys were samples tested at 270 MPa are consid- steam generators and pressure vessels for
tested at a stress of 325 MPa. The 2.25Cr- ered “slightly” to “highly susceptible” to chemical and fossil power plants. Many
1Mo steel was also tested at 270 MPa to stress-relief cracking at each PWHT tem- components in these power plants oper-
normalize for the difference in yield perature. The time to failure decreased ate at temperatures of approximately
strength between the two materials. Light with increasing PWHT temperature for 300–600°C. New components fabri-
optical and scanning electron mi- each material. There was no significant cated from 2.25Cr-1Mo steel may require
croscopy were used to characterize the difference in the times to failure between welding at both the fabrication and in-
simulated CGHAZ microstructures. The the two materials. Varying energy input stallation stages, and in-service material
simulated as-welded CGHAZ of each and stress had no effect on the time to may be welded during repairs. In such
alloy consisted of lath martensite or bai- failure. The ductility, as measured by re- applications, preheat and/or postweld
nite and had approximately equal prior duction in area, increased with increas- heat treatment (PWHT) are often re-
austenite grain sizes. The as-welded ing PWHT temperature for 2.25Cr-1Mo quired to improve heat-affected zone
hardness of the simulated 2.25Cr-1Mo steel tested at both initial stress levels. (HAZ) mechanical properties and reduce
steel CGHAZ was significantly higher However, PWHT temperature had no ef- susceptibility to hydrogen cracking.
than that of the HCM2S alloy. Over the These preheat and PWHT steps represent
range studied, energy input had little ef- a significant fraction of the overall fabri-
fect on the as-welded microstructure or cation/repair costs.
hardness of either alloy. The energy input Recently, a new ferritic steel, denoted
also had no effect on the stress-relief KEY WORDS as HCM2S, was developed. HCM2S has
cracking susceptibility of either material. been reported to exhibit improved me-
Both alloys failed intergranularly along Stress-Relief Cracking chanical properties and resistance to hy-
prior austenite grain boundaries under all Ferritic Steel drogen cold cracking compared to con-
test conditions. The 2.25Cr-1Mo steel Coarse-Grained HAZ ventional 2.25Cr-1Mo steel (Refs. 1–3).
samples experienced significant macro- Alloy HCM2S Table 1 compares the allowable compo-
Thermal Cycles sition ranges of both 2.25Cr-1Mo and the
J. G. NAWROCKI, J. N. DUPONT and A. R. HCM2S alloy (Refs. 1, 4). The lowered
Postweld Heat Treat
MARDER are with the Department of Materi- carbon content improves weldability by
als Science and Engineering, Lehigh Univer- reducing hardenability and the as-
Power Plant
sity, Bethlehem, Pa. C. V. ROBINO is with Ma- welded hardness of the HAZ. Although
terials Joining Dept., Sandia National the carbon content of HCM2S and
Laboratories, Albuquerque, N. Mex.


Table 1 — Allowable Composition Range of
HCM2S and 2.25Cr-1Mo Steel (wt-%)

Element HCM2S 2.25Cr-1Mo


(Ref. 1) (Ref. 5)
C 0.04–0.10 0.15
Cr 1.90–2.60 2.00–2.50
Mo 0.30 0.90–1.10
W 1.45–1.75 —
V 0.20–0.30 —
Nb 0.02–0.08 —
B 0.006 —
Al 0.03 —
Si 0.50 0.20–0.50
Mn 0.30–0.60 0.30–0.60
P 0.030 0.035
S 0.010 0.035
Fig. 1 — Schematic illustration of a stress-relief cracking test cycle.

1Mo steel (Refs. 1–3, 5). In addition, the alloy carbides (e.g. VC, NbC) preferen-
maximum allowable C content is 0.1 and tially precipitate at dislocations in the
0.15 wt-% for HCM2S and 2.25Cr-1Mo prior austenite grain interiors, thereby
steel, respectively. The creep rupture causing considerable strengthening.
strength is improved by the substitution These carbides retard dislocation move-
of Mo with W that acts as a solid-solution ment and do not allow residual stresses
strengthening element. Vanadium and to relax through plastic deformation of
niobium are added to improve creep the grains. The microstructure may also
strength by way of carbide precipitation contain precipitate-free denuded zones
strengthening. Boron is also added to im- adjacent to prior austenite grain bound-
prove creep strength. It has recently been aries. These denuded zones may be due
suggested that the improved weldability to grain boundary carbides that have de-
from these composition modifications pleted the adjacent matrix of carbon and
may permit elimination of costly preheat alloying elements (Refs. 11, 12) or the
and/or PWHT requirements. Although formation of a second phase during cool-
HCM2S has been shown to exhibit ex- ing after welding (Ref. 13). Along with
cellent mechanical properties and resis- this, classical temper embrittlement can
tance to hydrogen cracking, the stress- occur, which is the segregation of tramp
relief cracking susceptibility had yet to be elements to prior austenite grain bound-
investigated. aries during cooling or elevated temper-
Many low-alloy, creep-resistant steels ature exposure. These segregants lower
such as 2.25Cr-1Mo steel are known to the cohesive strength of the boundaries
be susceptible to stress-relief cracking and, together with the presence of a de-
(Ref. 6). Stress-relief cracking is defined nuded zone, can lead to brittle intergran-
as intergranular cracking in the heat- ular failure.
affected zone or weld metal that occurs Previous work has been conducted to
during exposure of welded assemblies to understand the stress-relief cracking sus-
postweld heat treatments or high-tem- ceptibility of 2.25Cr-1Mo steel. How-
perature service (Ref. 7). Stress-relief ever, the stress-relief cracking response
cracking occurs primarily in the CGHAZ of this HCM2S alloy is currently un-
of a weldment. The general mechanism known. Therefore, the objective of this
of stress-relief cracking is well docu- work is to evaluate the stress-relief crack-
mented in the literature and has been ex- ing susceptibility of HCM2S relative to
plained for low-alloy steels (Refs. 6–10). 2.25Cr-1Mo steel expected in single
During typical fusion welding processes, pass welds deposited with a range of
the unmelted base material surrounding heat inputs and several PWHT tempera-
the weld pool is heated to a temperature tures. The results may be useful for de-
Fig. 2 — Representative coarse-grained heat- very high in the austenite phase field. termining the conditions under which
affected zone microstructure in the as- During this time, pre-existing carbides ei- HCM2S may be used in the pressure ves-
welded condition. A — 2.25 Cr-1Mo; B — ther dissolve or coarsen and austenite sel and utility industries.
HCM2S. grain growth occurs. Due to the fast cool-
ing rates during fusion welding, supersat- Experimental Procedure
uration of microalloying elements occurs
2.25Cr-1Mo can be identical, HCM2S is as the austenite transforms to martensite Stress-Relief Cracking Tests
typically produced with a carbon content (provided the alloy has sufficient harden-
of ~0.06 wt-%, which is much lower than ability). When the newly formed CGHAZ The alloy compositions of the 2.25Cr-
the typical carbon content of 2.25Cr- is exposed to elevated temperatures, 1Mo and HCM2S steels used in this re-

356-s | DECEMBER 2000

search are summarized in Table 2. Stress- loys at the test temperatures used in this
Table 2 — Chemical Composition of HCM2S
relief cracking tests were performed research are unavailable and therefore and 2.25Cr-1Mo Steels (wt-%)
using a Gleeble 1000 thermomechanical the above values were chosen because
simulator. Unnotched, cylindrical test 650°C is near the middle of the test tem- Element HCM2S 2.25Cr-1Mo

samples (105 mm long and 10 mm di- perature range. The 2.25Cr-1Mo steel (Ref. 1) (Ref. 5)
ameter) with threaded ends were used. A samples tested at 270 MPa were pro- C 0.06 0.13
schematic illustration of the stress-relief duced using an energy input of 2 kJ/mm. Si 0.25 0.2
cracking thermomechanical test cycle The maximum residual stress present in a Mn 0.48 0.5
can be seen in Fig. 1. Samples were sub- weldment is typically at or near the yield P 0.013 0.008
S 0.006 0.001
jected to single-pass weld thermal simu- strength (Ref. 16). Therefore, the lower
Cr 2.4 2.3
lation cycles representative of 2, 3 and 4 stress was used because the yield Mo 0.09 1.04
kJ/mm energy inputs with a peak tem- strength of HCM2S is typically higher W 1.5 NM
perature of 1315°C and a preheat tem- than that of 2.25Cr-1Mo steel and lower- V 0.24 0.004
perature of 93°C. The thermal cycles are ing the stress serves to help normalize the Nb 0.050 0.001
based on actual data from SMA welds on yield strength differences between the B 0.0036 NM
carbon steel (Refs. 14, 15). A tensile stress two materials. A constant load test is Al 0.013 NM
was imposed on the sample during cool- more severe than a constant displace- Sn 0.01 0.01
Sb 0.01 <0.001
ing and held for the duration of the test to ment or stress relaxation test because the As 0.01 0.006
simulate the residual stresses present in load is not allowed to relax and the sam- Fe balance balance
an actual weldment. After cooling to ple is often taken to failure. However, the
room temperature, the sample was then mechanism of stress-relief cracking was NM: not measured

subjected to a simulated programmed effectively simulated and the constant

postweld heat treatment temperature and load test is relatively easy to perform. samples in the as-welded condition and
held at constant temperature and load These tests were performed under a vac- after SRC testing using a Knoop indenter
(that corresponds to the initial stress uum of approximately 100 millitorr to and a 500-g load. Samples were etched
level) until failure. The load is actually prevent decarburization and oxidation of using either 2% Nital or Vilella’s reagent
constant and not the stress because the the samples as well as decoherence of and observed using light optical mi-
stress will change as the cross-sectional the thermocouples. The time to failure croscopy (LOM). Prior austenite grain
area of the specimen changes. Therefore, was taken to be the time when the PWHT size measurements were made in accor-
when the stress level is mentioned here- temperature was reached to the time of dance with ASTM E112-84.
after, it corresponds to the initial stress rupture. The ductility was determined as
level. The simulated postweld heat treat- the reduction in area during PWHT. Results
ment temperatures ranged from One half of each fractured sample was
575–725°C. Both materials were tested reserved for fractographic examination Stress-Relief Cracking Tests
at a stress of 325 MPa and the 2.25Cr- by scanning electron microscopy (SEM).
1Mo steel was also tested at a stress of The remaining half was electroless Ni- Typical as-welded CGHAZ mi-
270 MPa. The initial stress levels (325 coated to provide edge retention of the crostructures of each alloy are shown in
MPa for HCM2S and 270 MPa for 2.25Cr- fracture surface. Longitudinal cross-sec- Fig. 2. Each thermal cycle produced a mi-
1Mo) were chosen based on the yield tional samples were then polished to a crostructure consisting of lath martensite
strength of the alloys at ~650°C. The 0.04 µm finish using colloidal silica. Mi- and/or bainite with similar prior austen-
yield strengths of the CGHAZ of these al- crohardness traverses were performed on ite grain sizes (~50 µm). Hardness tra-

Fig. 3 — Microhardness traverse across simulated heat-affected zones.

The traverse was across the sample between the jaws of the Gleeble.

Fig. 4 — Postweld heat treatment temperature vs. time to failure at

various energy inputs.



Fig. 5 — Postweld heat treatment temperature vs. time to failure for Fig. 6 — Reduction in area as a function of PWHT temperature at various
an energy input of 2 kJ/mm along with lowered stress values for energy inputs.
2.25Cr-1Mo steel.

Fig. 8 — Microhardness traces acquired from HAZ samples (2 kJ/mm) after

failure during a PWHT of 675°C.
Fig. 7 — Reduction in area as a function of PWHT temperature for
an energy input of 2 kJ/mm along with lowered stress values for
2.25Cr-1Mo steel.

verses from each alloy in the as welded is more likely to be martensite than bai- site formation) in these simulations was
condition (energy input of 3 kJ/mm) are nite due to the large effect of carbon con- faster than the critical cooling rate for
presented in Fig. 3. These traverses are tent on the as-welded hardness of the these materials. Figure 5 compares the
across the entire region between the jaws CGHAZ. Figure 4 shows the postweld time to failure for both alloys tested at an
of the Gleeble and represent the entire heat treatment temperature vs. time to energy input of 2 kJ/mm and an initial
HAZ along with unaffected base mater- failure for both alloys tested under an ini- stress of 325 MPa as well as 2.25Cr-1Mo
ial. Although the base metal hardness of tial stress of 325 MPa and various energy steel tested at an initial stress of 270 MPa.
each alloy is similar (~225 HKN), the inputs and postweld heat treatments. It is It can be seen the change in stress had no
2.25Cr-1Mo steel has a much higher important to note every failure occurred effect on the time to failure for the
peak hardness in the CGHAZ (~470 in the CGHAZ. In general, as the PWHT 2.25Cr-1Mo alloy. The 2.25Cr-1Mo sam-
HKN) than HCM2S (~375 HKN) due to temperature increased, the time to failure ples tested at 575°C (325 and 270 MPa)
the higher C content. The CGHAZ ex- decreased for both materials. There is no did not fail after six hours and the tests
tends from approximately 6.5 mm to discernable difference between the two were stopped. Figure 6 shows the varia-
13.5 mm in Fig. 3. The hardness of the materials, and the change in energy input tion in reduction in area as a function of
simulated CGHAZ of HCM2S corre- is shown to have very little effect. Vary- postweld heat treatment temperature at
sponds well with hardness values of ac- ing energy input also had no discernable various energy inputs for each alloy
tual welds taken for comparison (~370 effect on the CGHAZ peak hardness, im- tested at 325 MPa. For 2.25Cr-1Mo, the
HKN). The microstructure of the CGHAZ plying the cooling rate (for 100% marten- ductility increased considerably with in-

358-s | DECEMBER 2000


Fig. 9 — Scanning electron microscopy photomicrographs of fracture surfaces. Samples produced using an energy input of 2 kJ/mm and tested at a
PWHT temperature of 675°C. A — HCM2S; B — 2.25Cr-1Mo tested at 325 MPa; C — 2.25Cr-1Mo tested at 270 MPa.

creasing PWHT temperature. In contrast, stress of 325 MPa and the sample shown
HCM2S shows no clear variation in duc- in Fig. 9C was tested at 270 MPa (2.25Cr- Table 3 — Steel-Relief Cracking
tility with PWHT temperature. Again, 1Mo). Each of the samples failed inter- Susceptibility Criteria Developed by
there is no clear correlation between the granularly along prior austenite grain Vinckier and Pense (Ref. 18)
ductility and the energy input for a given boundaries. These microstructural fea-
PWHT. Figure 7 shows the variation in re- tures indicate the test conditions properly Susceptibility to % Reduction
Stress-Relief Cracking in Area
duction in area as a function of PWHT for simulate the stress-relief cracking mech-
both alloys tested at an energy input of 2 anism. In comparing the two samples Extremely susceptible <5%
kJ/mm and a stress of 325 MPa as well as tested at 325 MPa, the 2.25Cr-1Mo steel Highly susceptible 5–10%
2.25Cr-1Mo steel tested at 270 MPa. The exhibits some microductility on grain Slightly susceptible 10–15%
reduction in area at 270 MPa is much surfaces (Fig. 9B), whereas the HCM2S Not susceptible >20%
lower than the reduction in area at 325 sample has primarily smooth, featureless
MPa at each PWHT temperature for the grain surfaces — Fig. 9A. However, the
2.25Cr-1Mo steel. Figure 8 compares 2.25Cr-1Mo steel sample tested at 270
typical hardness traverses acquired from MPa shows little signs of microductility macroscopic yielding. On the other
each material after being subjected to an and closely resembles the HCM2S sam- hand, alloys that retain their strength at
energy input of 2 kJ/mm, a PWHT of ple — Fig. 9C. Figure 10 shows typical high temperatures and/or become locally
675°C and a stress of 325 MPa. The orig- cross-sectional LOM photomicrographs embrittled at the grain boundaries are
inal CGHAZ extends approximately 3.5 acquired from fractured samples of each susceptible to low-ductility fracture
mm from the fracture surface. The hard- alloy corresponding to the samples in along the prior austenite grain bound-
ness of the HCM2S is constant across the Fig. 9. The white layer on the fracture aries during stress relief. Vinckier and
CGHAZ, but the hardness increases near edge is an electroless Ni-coating used to Pense (Ref. 18) developed a criteria for
the end of the CGHAZ in 2.25Cr-1Mo preserve the microstructural features the susceptibility to stress-relief cracking
steel. It is unclear as to why this occurs, near the edge of the sample. Each sample of steels based on the percent reduction
but it may be due to the increased elon- failed intergranularly along prior austen- in area of specimens subjected to HAZ
gation of the 2.25Cr-1Mo samples. Neck- ite grain boundaries. Secondary cracks simulations and tested at elevated tem-
ing during the test may cause a tempera- are present behind the fracture surface, peratures (Table 3). The criteria were
ture gradient to form, thereby causing the with each being approximately normal to found to agree with test results by Lundin,
variation in hardness with distance. The the tensile axis. These samples are repre- et al. (Ref. 16), on low-alloy steels.
peak hardness of the CGHAZ in the sentative of all energy inputs and PWHT The susceptibility criteria discussed
2.25Cr-1Mo steel was considerably used in this investigation. The cracks in above are to be used as a general guide
higher than HCM2S in the as-welded the 2.25Cr-1Mo steel samples tested at for well-controlled laboratory experi-
condition. However, the hardness of the 325 MPa (Fig. 10B) appear to have more ments. Using these criteria, HCM2S is
2.25 Cr-1Mo steel decreased consider- elongated features as opposed to the rel- considered “extremely” to “highly sus-
ably after PWHT (from 470 HKN to ~325 atively undeformed grains seen for the ceptible” to stress-relief cracking at each
HKN), while the HCM2S hardness ex- HCM2S in Fig. 10A and the 2.25Cr-1Mo energy input and postweld heat treat-
hibits no detectable change although the sample tested at 270 MPa — Fig. 10C. ment, whereas, 2.25Cr-1Mo steel would
times to failure (time of exposure to This corresponds well with the ductility only be considered “slightly susceptible”
PWHT) were equivalent. This behavior values presented in Fig. 7. tested at 325 MPa. The 2.25Cr-1Mo steel
was typical of each sample tested at 325 samples tested at 270 MPa are consid-
MPa. Discussion ered “slightly” to “highly susceptible” to
The HCM2S alloy generally showed stress-relief cracking at each PWHT tem-
more evidence of brittle intergranular Ductility has been found to be a reli- perature.
failure. Figure 9 shows SEM photomicro- able indicator of stress relief cracking sus- The reason for the decrease in ductil-
graphs of samples produced using a ther- ceptibility when Gleeble simulation ity of 2.25Cr-1Mo steel when using a
mal cycle representative of an energy techniques are used to compare alloys lower stress is that a higher stress corre-
input of 2 kJ/mm and tested at 675°C. The (Ref. 17). In general, alloys that can ap- sponds to a greater initial strain. In other
samples represented in Fig. 9A (HCM2S) preciably soften during PWHT are capa- words, during a constant stress test, the
and 9B (2.25Cr-1Mo) were tested at a ble of relieving residual stresses by material is initially (prior to the time



Fig. 10 — Light optical microscopy photomicrographs of cross-sectioned failed samples produced using an energy input of 2 kJ/mm and tested at
a PWHT temperature of 675°C. A — HCM2S; B — 2.25Cr-1Mo tested at 325 MPa; C — 2.25Cr-1Mo tested at 270 MPa.

when embrittlement mechanisms are ac- tested at 270 MPa since, as discussed teristics of elemental segregation and
tivated) elongated an amount that corre- above, a stress of 325 MPa for 2.25Cr- carbide precipitation and how these
sponds to the stress and then the test es- 1Mo steel induces an artificial reduction processes, in turn, affect the tempering
sentially becomes a creep test. Therefore, in area. The lower stress is a more accu- response and fracture modes during
the use of a higher stress at a given tem- rate representation of the stress state the stress relief.
perature will initially produce more 2.25Cr-1Mo steel would experience in Tramp element segregation (temper
strain and the apparent ductility in- an actual weldment because it is closer embrittlement) typically occurs in car-
creases. Figure 11 is a plot of displace- to the yield strength at the PWHT tem- bon and low-alloy steels when slowly
ment vs. time for each material/stress test peratures used in this study. The result is cooled or isothermally aged in the tem-
combination at a PWHT temperature of 2.25Cr-1Mo steel appears to be slightly perature range of approximately
625°C. The data represents the time at less susceptible to stress-relief cracking 350–600°C (Ref. 19). When temper em-
which the PWHT was reached to the time than HCM2S based on the criteria of brittled steels are reheated to tempera-
of failure. The increase in stress in the Vinckier and Pense (Ref. 18). This is es- tures above approximately 600°C and
2.25Cr-1Mo steel has caused an increase pecially true since the reduction in area cooled rapidly, embrittlement is reversed
in the slope of the steady-state portion of increased as the PWHT temperature in- (Refs. 19, 20). Therefore, with the excep-
the curve. This is similar to the result of creased, but PWHT had no effect on the tion of the samples tested at 575 and
increasing the stress in a creep test. While ductility of HCM2S. 625°C, failure was unlikely to be associ-
the elongation initially increases rapidly Low ductility intergranular failure in ated with tramp element segregation.
in each sample, only the 2.25Cr-1Mo the CGHAZ during PWHT can occur by The CGHAZ of the 2.25Cr-1Mo steel
steel sample tested at 325 MPa continues two general mechanisms: 1) tramp ele- experienced significant softening during
to significantly elongate during the re- ment segregation to prior austenite grain postweld heat treatment at 325 MPa
mainder of the test. The 2.25Cr-1Mo boundaries and/or 2) precipitation whereas the hardness of the CGHAZ of
sample tested at 270 MPa and the strengthening of grain interiors and de- each HCM2S sample after PWHT was es-
HCM2S sample reach a given displace- nuded zone formation near the grain sentially identical to the hardness in the
ment, then the displacement essentially boundaries (Ref. 6). In the former case, as-welded condition. The reason for this
remains constant. In contrast, the 2.25Cr- the presence of tramp elements (P, S, Sn, difference can be explained by examin-
1Mo sample tested at 325 MPa continues As and Sb) along the prior austenite grain ing the chemical composition and the ex-
to elongate and always had a greater rate boundaries lowers the cohesive strength pected carbide precipitation sequences
of elongation than the other samples at across the boundaries and leads to brit- of these alloys. Baker and Nutting (Ref.
all PWHT temperatures. The rate of elon- tle, intergranular fracture. In the latter 21) studied the carbide precipitation se-
gation also increased with increasing case, alloy carbides (e.g. VC, NbC) pref- quence during tempering of 2.25Cr-1Mo
PWHT temperature similar to a conven- erentially precipitate in the prior austen- steel for a broad range of tempering tem-
tional creep test. Therefore, even though ite grain interiors on dislocations and peratures (400–750°C) and times
each sample failed due to stress-relief cause considerable strengthening. Along (0.5–1000 h). Their findings are illustrated
cracking, the 2.25Cr-1Mo samples tested with this, some carbides may precipitate in Fig. 12. The following general carbide
at 325 MPa exhibited high reductions in in the prior austenite grain boundaries. precipitation sequence was determined:
area and continued to elongate through- These carbides can deplete the adjacent
out the test. The 2.25Cr-1Mo samples material of carbon leaving a thin precip- ε-carbide M3C
tested at 270 MPa and HCM2S samples itate-free denuded zone (Refs. 11, 12).
(Mo2C + M3C) M23C6 M6C
experienced some elongation before Therefore, any stress will be concentrated
maintaining a constant displacement and in these relatively soft zones leading to
then elongated a small amount before intergranular failure. Thus, the operable
failing due to stress-relief cracking. It is cracking mechanism of each alloy can be Cr7C3
important to note HCM2S should be understood by examining the influence
compared to the 2.25Cr-1Mo samples of chemical composition on the charac- where the M stands for Fe or Cr.

360-s | DECEMBER 2000

Fig. 11 — Displacement as a function of time during a PWHT of Fig. 12 — Isothermal diagram showing the sequence of carbide for-
625°C. mation on tempering of a quenched 2.25Cr-1Mo steel (Ref. 21).

For the temperature range 0.05Nb-0.006N-0.5Mn-0.004B system Work is now in progress using analytical
400–725°C, ε-carbide and/or M3C al- (Ref. 24) indicated the stable phases at and transmission electron microscopy to
ways precedes the formation of any Cr- or 2.5 wt-%-Cr and 0.06%C are α + VC + examine the microstructures so the pre-
Mo-based carbides. From these results, it M6C. This is consistent with the long- cise failure mechanisms can be under-
can be estimated that, due to the short term aging results. The relatively high stood in more detail.
times, cementite should be the only car- susceptibility of HCM2S to stress-relief
bide to form in the 2.25Cr-1Mo steel cracking is likely due to a combination of Conclusions
samples under the conditions of this vanadium carbide precipitation strength-
study. Therefore, the material should ening within the grain interiors and pos- The stress relief cracking response of
soften relative to the as-welded condition sibly the formation of denuded zones in conventional 2.25Cr-1Mo and HCM2S
because the mechanism of softening is the grain boundary regions. Denuded steels was investigated by Gleeble HAZ
the release of carbon from the supersatu- zones formed in low-alloy steels are typ- simulation techniques. The HCM2S alloy
rated matrix and concomitant relaxation ically only up to a few hundred nanome- was shown to be more susceptible to
of lattice strain (Ref. 22). This would ac- ters wide (Ref. 13). Therefore, even if de- stress-relief cracking than 2.25Cr-1Mo
count for the significant increase in duc- nuded zones had formed, the steel over the range of weld thermal sim-
tility observed with increasing PWHT detectability is limited to transmission ulations and postweld heat treatment
temperature and the low susceptibility to electron microscopy. Vanadium carbide schedules used in this research for single-
stress relief cracking. This is also consis- is well-known to promote stress-relief pass weld CGHAZ simulation samples.
tent with the hardness results in Fig. 8. cracking by forming a fine, uniform dis- HCM2S experienced brittle intergranular
Because the material could soften appre- persion of very stable carbides (Refs. 25, failure along prior austenite grain bound-
ciably during tempering, the stress would 26). Grain interior strengthening by VC aries under each set of test conditions.
be relieved by macroscopic yielding would resist stress relaxation by macro- The 2.25Cr-1Mo steel also failed inter-
rather than the concentration of strain at scopic yielding and lead to stress intensi- granularly along prior austenite grain
the prior austenite grain boundaries. fication along the relatively weak prior boundaries, but exhibited significant
The carbide precipitation sequence austenite grain boundaries that may con- macroductility when tested at a stress of
during the tempering of HCM2S is ex- tain denuded zones. This proposed 325 MPa. Lowering the applied stress in
pected to differ from 2.25Cr-1Mo steel process would account for the retained the 2.25Cr-1Mo steel samples to normal-
due to the presence of V and Nb, which hardness of the HCM2S after postweld ize for the yield strength resulted in lower
are strong carbide forming elements. Pi- heat treatment and the relatively high ductility values from the stress-relief
grova (Ref. 23), in a study on quenched susceptibility to stress relief cracking. cracking tests. Increasing the postweld
and tempered Cr-Mo-V steels, found Another possible factor is the pres- heat treatment temperature increased the
M3C (Fe and Cr-rich) and MC (V-rich) car- ence of B and Al in the HCM2S alloy. Ad- ductility for 2.25Cr-1Mo steel, but had no
bides to be present after tempering from ditions of Al (Refs. 13, 27, 28) and B significant effect on HCM2S. The as-
450–700°C for up to 1000 h (depending (Refs. 10, 13, 29) to low-alloy steels have quenched hardness of the CGHAZ pro-
on the temperature). Previous work has been shown to greatly increase the sus- duced at each energy input for 2.25Cr-
shown normalized and tempered ceptibility to stress-relief cracking and 1Mo steel was ~470 HKN and for
HCM2S steel exhibits a fine dispersion of promote the formation of a denuded HCM2S was ~375 HKN. This difference
MC along with some M7C3 inside the zone (Ref. 13), although the exact mech- in as-quenched hardness was attributed
grains and M23C6 along grain boundaries anisms by which Al and B promote stress- to the higher carbon content of the
(Ref. 24). The MC carbide was found to relief cracking are unclear. Therefore, the 2.25Cr-1Mo steel. The hardness of the
be V-rich with some Nb present. After differences in composition between CGHAZ after tempering decreased to
aging for 1000 h at 600°C, MC remained 2.25Cr-1Mo steel and HCM2S and their ~325 HKN for 2.25Cr-1Mo steel, but re-
stable, but M23C6 and M7C3 transformed effect on the carbide precipitation kinet- mained the same as the as-quenched
to M6C (Ref. 24). Calculation of phase ics and grain boundary characteristics hardness of the CGHAZ for HCM2S.
equilibria at 600°C using Thermo-Calc apparently are the reason for the contrast With the tempering temperatures and
routine for the C-Cr-1.6W-0.1Mo-0.25V- in the stress-relief cracking behavior. times used in this study, ε-carbide and


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Call for Papers

The 6th International Seminar on Numerical Analysis of Weldability will be held October 1–3,
2001, in Graz, Austria. This seminar is held under the sponsorship of IIW Commission IX,
Working Group “Mathematical Modeling of Weld Phenomena.” Papers are invited on the
following topics:
• Melt Pool and Arc Phenomena
• Solidification
• Microstructural Modeling in Weld Metal and HAZ
• Microstructure and Mechanical Properties
• Influence of Postweld Heat Treatment
• Crack Phenomena and Testing Methods
• Residual Stresses and Distortion
• Modeling Tools and Computer Programs
Individuals interested in presenting a paper should prepare an abstract no more than a half page
in length. Include the title of the paper, name of the author(s) and affiliation. Deadline for abstract
submission is April 1, 2001. Send it to Bernhard Schaffernak, TU Graz, Institute for Materials
Science, Welding and Forming, Kopernikusgasse 24, A-8010 Graz, Austria; FAX +43 316 873 7187;

362-s | DECEMBER 2000