2003 Volume 43 Issue 3 Pages 420-427
Predictions of long-term microstructure stability of creep resistant ferritic 9-12% Cr steels up to 200 000-300 000 h at temperatures up to 600-650°C are highly interesting for safe power plant operation. At technically interesting creep conditions the microstructure stability is mainly controlled by the stability of precipitate particles. Predictions of precipitate stability have to rely on i) Microstructure characterisation methods to measure volume fractions and mean particle sizes of individual precipitate types, and ii) Microstructure models to predict the evolution of precipitate volume fractions and mean sizes as functions of temperature, time and applied stress. Characterisation methods, which allow on-line particle type discrimination in 9-12 % Cr steels include energy filtered transmission electron microscopy (EFTEM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) with atomic number contrast. Modelling of precipitate stability based on thermodynamic equilibrium calculations and multicomponent diffusion databases is demonstrated. A multi-component coarsening model gives accurate predictions of coarsening rates for MX and Laves phase precipitates in steel P92 with fit values for the interfacial energy in the expected range. For M23C6 carbides in steel P92 the model results in unexpectedly low apparent values for the interfacial energy. Modelling of published data for steel P91 indicate much higher coarsening rates for M23C6 carbides, and the fit value for the interfacial energy is as expected. A possible explanation for the low apparent value of the interfacial energy for M23C6 carbides in steel P92 is the content of boron in the steel.