Influence of weld thermal cycle and post weld heat treatment on the microstructure of MarBN steel

Martensitic steels strengthened by Boron and Nitrogen additions (MarBN) were developed for high temperature/ high stress service in power plant for periods of many years and are being considered as a promising candidate for the replacement of the more conventional Grade 91/92 steels. In the present study, extensive microstructural observation of physically simulated Heat Affected Zone (HAZ) MarBN material has been carried out after dilatometry simulations to link the variation in microstructure with weld thermal cycles. The microstructure in the MarBN HAZ has been observed to vary from a refined equiaxed morphology to a duplex microstructure consisting of refined grains distributed on the pre-existing Prior Austenite Grain Boundaries (PAGBs) as the peak temperature of the weld thermal cycle decreases. The temperature range corresponding to the formation of the duplex grain structure coincides with the temperature regime for the dissolution of the pre-existing M23C6 carbides. An even distribution of the M23C6 carbides within the martensitic substructure was also observed after Post Weld Heat Treatment (PWHT), which is beneficial for the creep performance of the weld HAZ. The MX precipitates are more resistant to thermal exposure and are not completely dissolved until the peak temperature reaches 1573 K (1300 °C). The Nb-rich MX precipitates are the predominant type observed both after weld simulations and PWHT. The hardness between the materials experienced with the thermal cycles with different peak temperature does not significantly vary after PWHT conducted in an appropriate condition, which is likely to mitigate an unfavoured stress condition in the localised area within the HAZ.