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Title: Assessment of cobalt-free hardfacing stainless steel alloys for nuclear applications
Author: Bowden, David
ISNI:       0000 0004 6423 4834
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2017
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Hardfacing alloys are utilised in pump and valve components in pressurised water reactors (PWR's). They are designed to withstand wear and galling effects, which occur as a result of surface-to-surface contact, where surface roughness increases by localised plastic deformation, resulting in fracture and material transfer. Typically, alloys that exhibit suitable hardness and galling resistance are known as the Stellites; a Co-base alloy family. Whilst these Co alloys perform well in a hardfacing capacity, they suffer from neutron activation and subsequently decay, forming 60Co isotopes, which emit hazardous γ-rays, contributing to plant worker exposure. The present study was developed to characterise and assess the metallurgical properties of two candidate Co-free replacement alloys; stainless Fe-based alloys Tristelle 5183 and a derivative alloy, developed and patented by Rolls-Royce, known as RR2450. The alloys are produced as gas-atomised powders before undergoing hot isostatic pressing (HIP) into usable parts in-service. As part of this work, we have identified a novel, high-strength Fe-Cr-Ni silicide phase, which precipitates extensively within the RR2450 alloy after HIP consolidation, resulting in the formation of a triplex (austenite/delta- ferrite/silicide) matrix. The use of automated diffraction tomography (ADT) has allowed the crystallography of this phase to be determined as a trigonal R3 space group setting. A carbon atom, identified at a trigonal bipyramidal site along [111] within the silicide phase unit cell, indicates a carbon solubility of up to 1.2 wt% within this phase. HIP cycles were studied in situ using synchrotron X-ray diffraction (XRD), which revealed that the silicide phase decomposes within the metastable gas-atomised RR2450 powder by a eutectoid γ → delta + M7C3 transformation. The starting fraction of metastable delta-ferrite within the RR2450 gas-atomised powder is shown to directly influence the rate of transformation from γ to delta-ferrite during the HIP cycle. The wear resistance of the triplex RR2450 alloy at 300 °C is shown to be superior when compared to the austenitic Tristelle 5183. This is attributed to the high strength silicide phase, which is shown to offer a hardness up to 2 to 2.5 times greater than the austenite and delta-ferrite phases. By producing an elastic angular distortion of the unit cell, the silicide phase is able to withstand loading up to 1 GPa without yielding. The Tristelle 5183 alloy, which produces a lower fraction of silicide phase compared to RR2450, is reliant on the formation of stacking faults and a strain induced martensitic transformation to provide a high wear resistance. These transformations are shown to reduce substantially during wear testing at 190 °C, leading to a loss of high temperature wear resistance in the Tristelle 5183 alloy. Future work into developing silicide based Fe hardfacings is suggested, the microstructures of which can be tailored by controlling Si and Ni additions.
Supervisor: Preuss, Michael Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Hardfacing ; Steel ; Galling ; Wear ; Characterisation ; Nuclear