1998 Volume 38 Issue 10 Pages 1130-1139
The present work has concentrated on the roles of vanadium, nitrogen and carbon in controlling the microstructures and strength of steels designed for hot rolled long products. Effects of cooling rate and additional microalloying with titanium have also been included.
The degree of precipitation strengthening of ferrite at a given vanadium content depends on the available quantities of carbon and nitrogen. The nitrogen content of the ferrite is approximately the same as that of the austenite from which it forms, i.e. the total nitrogen content in steel. It was confirmed that nitrogen is a very reliable alloying element, increasing the yield strength of V-microalloyed steels by some 5 MPa for every 0.001% N, essentially independent of processing conditions.
Carbon content, on the other hand, has usually been considered not relevant to precipitation strengthening when the precipitation occurs in ferrite because of the very small carbon content in solution in ferrite at equilibrium. We demonstrate that the effective carbon for precipitation in ferrite may be much greater than this during the period of phase transformation, which in turn has a great effect on precipitation strengthening. Such behaviour is explained on the basis that the activity of carbon in ferrite is abnormally high in the presence of under-cooled austenite and before cementite nucleation so that profuse nucleation of vanadium carbonitride is encouraged. This new mechanism for precipitation is particularly significant for medium carbon steels typically used for hot rolled bars and sections.
The total carbon content of the steel also contributes to the yield strength by increasing the volume fraction of pearlite. It is shown that the contribution from pearlite is stronger than generally recognised.