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Quantitative microstructural characterization of microalloyed steels Open Access


Other title
Rietveld refinement
precipitation strengthening
matrix dissolution
microalloyed steels
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Lu, Junfang
Supervisor and department
Henein, Hani (Chemical and Materials Engineering)
Ivey, Douglas (Chemical and Materials Engineering)
Examining committee member and department
Zhang, Hao (Chemical and Materials Engineering)
Garrison, Warren (Materials Science and Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University)
Luo, Jingli (Chemical and Materials Engineering)
Grondin, Gilbert (Civil and Environmental Engineering)
Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Microalloyed steels are widely used in oil and gas pipelines. They are a class of high strength, low carbon steels containing small additions (in amounts less than 0.1 wt%) of Nb, Ti and/or V. The steels may contain other alloying elements, such as Mo, in amounts exceeding 0.1wt%. Microalloyed steels have good strength, good toughness and excellent weldability, which are attributed in part to the presence of precipitates, especially nano-precipitates with sizes less than 10nm. Nano-precipitates have an important strengthening contribution, i.e. precipitation strengthening. In order to fully understand steel strengthening mechanisms, it is necessary to determine the precipitation strengthening contribution. Because of the fine sizes and low volume fraction, conventional microscopic methods are not satisfactory for quantifying the nano-precipitates. Matrix dissolution is a promising alternative to extract the precipitates for quantification. Relatively large volumes of material can be analyzed, so that statistically significant quantities of precipitates of different sizes are collected. In this thesis, the microstructure features of a series of microalloyed steels are characterized using optical microscopy (OM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Matrix dissolution techniques have been developed to extract the precipitates from the above microalloyed steels. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and x-ray diffraction (XRD) are combined to analyze the chemical speciation of these precipitates. Rietveld refinement of the XRD pattern is used to fully quantify the relative amounts of the precipitates. The size distribution of the nano-precipitates (mostly ≤10 nm) is quantified using dark field imaging (DF) in the TEM. The effects of steel chemistry and processing parameters on grain microstructure and the amount of nano-precipitates are discussed. Individual strengthening contributions due to grain size effect, solid solution strengthening and precipitation strengthening are quantified to fully understand the strengthening mechanisms of the steels.
License granted by Junfang Lu ( on 2009-09-26T20:17:10Z (GMT): Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of the above terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis, and except as herein provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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