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Creep-strengthening of steel at high temperatures using nano-sized carbonitride dispersions


Creep is a time-dependent mechanism of plastic deformation, which takes place in a range of materials under low stress—that is, under stresses lower than the yield stress1. Metals and alloys can be designed to withstand creep at high temperatures, usually by a process called dispersion strengthening2, in which fine particles are evenly distributed throughout the matrix. For example, high-temperature creep-resistant ferritic steels achieve optimal creep strength (at 923 K) through the dispersion of yttrium oxide nanoparticles3. However, the oxide particles are introduced by complicated mechanical alloying techniques and, as a result, the production of large-scale industrial components is economically unfeasible. Here we report the production of a 9 per cent Cr martensitic steel dispersed with nanometre-scale carbonitride particles using conventional processing techniques. At 923 K, our dispersion-strengthened material exhibits a time-to-rupture that is increased by two orders of magnitude relative to the current strongest creep-resistant steels4. This improvement in creep resistance is attributed to a mechanism of boundary pinning by the thermally stable carbonitride precipitates. The material also demonstrates enough fracture toughness. Our results should lead to improved grades of creep-resistant steels and to the economical manufacture of large-scale steel components for high-temperature applications.

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Figure 1: Creep rate versus time curves of at 923 K and 140 MPa.
Figure 2: Time to rupture of the 9Cr steels at 923 K and 140 MPa, as a function of carbon concentration.
Figure 3: Stress and time to rupture relationship for the three 9% Cr steels at 923 K.
Figure 4: MX and M23C6 along grain boundaries in the specimens after heat treatment.


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Correspondence to Fujio Abe.

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Taneike, M., Abe, F. & Sawada, K. Creep-strengthening of steel at high temperatures using nano-sized carbonitride dispersions. Nature 424, 294–296 (2003).

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