Tensile And Low Cycle Fatigue Behavior Of A Ni-Base Superalloy
Background and Objective: Nickel-base superalloys, strengthened by a high volume fraction of Ni3Al precipitates, have been the undisputed choice for turbine discs in gas turbines as they exhibit the best available combination of elevated temperature tensile strength and resistance to low cycle fatigue (LCF), which are essential for a disc alloy. Alloy 720LI is a wrought nickel-base superalloy developed for disc application and exhibit superior elevated temperature tensile strength and LCF properties. It is distinct from contemporary disc alloys because of its chemistry, (especially Ti, Al and interstitial (C and B) contents), processing and heat treatment. However, literature available in open domain to develop an understanding of these properties in alloy 720LI is rather limited. This study was taken up in this background with an objective of assessing the tensile and LCF properties exhibited by alloy 720LI within a temperature regime of interest and understand the structure-property correlations behind it. Tensile Behavior: The effect of temperature and strain rate on monotonic tensile properties were assessed at different temperature in the range of 25 – 750°C (0.67 Tm) at a strain rate of 10-4 s-1 and strain rate effects were explored in detail at 25, 400, 650 and 750°C at different strain rates between 10-5 s-1 and 10-1 s-1. Yield and ultimate tensile strength of the alloy remains unaffected by temperature till about 600°C (0.58Tm) and 500°C (0.51Tm), respectively, beyond which both decreased drastically. Negligible strain rate sensitivity exhibited by the alloy at 25 and 400°C indicated that flow stress is a strong function of strain hardening rather than strain rate hardening. However at 650 and 750°C, especially at low strain rates, strain rate sensitivity is relatively high. TEM studies revealed that heterogeneous planar slip involving shearing of precipitates by dislocation pairs was prevalent under strain rate insensitive conditions and more homogeneous slip was evident when flow stresses were strain rate sensitive. The planarity of slip is also considered responsible for the deviation in experimental data from the Ludwick–Hollomon power-law at low plastic strains in regimes insensitive to strain rate. Irrespective of strain rate sensitivity and degree of homogeneity of slip, fracture mode remained ductile at almost all the conditions studied. Dynamic Strain Ageing: Alloy 720LI exhibits jerky flow in monotonic tension at intermediate temperatures ranging from 250-475°C. After considering all known causes for serrated flow in materials, the instability in flow (Portevin-LeChatelier (PLC) effect) is considered attributable to dynamic strain ageing (DSA), arising from interactions between diffusing solute atoms and mobile dislocations during plastic flow. As the temperature range of DSA coincided with typical bore and web temperatures of turbine discs, its possible influence on tensile properties is considered in detail. No significant change in tensile strength, ductility, or work hardening is observed, due to DSA, with increase in temperature from smooth to serrated flow regime. However strain rate sensitivity, which is positive in smooth flow regime turned negative in the serrated flow regime. Analysis of serrated flow on the basis of critical plastic strain for onset of serrations revealed that in most of the temperature-strain rate regimes studied, alloy 720LI exhibits ‘inverse’ PLC effect which is a phenomenon that has not been fully understood in contrast to ‘normal’ PLC effect observed widely in dilute solid solutions. Other characteristics of serrated flow viz., stress decrement and strain increment between serrations are also analyzed to understand the mechanism of DSA. Though the activation energy determined using stress decrements suggest that carbon atoms could be responsible for locking of dislocations, based on its influence on mechanical properties and also on its temperature regime of existence, weak pinning of dislocations by substitutional solute atoms are considered responsible for DSA in alloy 720LI. LCF Behavior: LCF studies were carried out under fully reversed constant strain amplitude conditions at 25, 400 and 650°C with strain amplitudes ranging from 0.4-1.2%. Different cyclic stress responses observed depending on the imposed conditions are correlated to the substructures that evolved. Low level of dislocation activity and interactions observed in TEM is considered the reason behind stable cyclic stress response at low strain amplitudes at all temperatures. TEM studies also show that secondary γ’ precipitates that are degraded through repeated shearing are responsible for the continuous softening, observed after a short initial hardening phase, at higher strain amplitudes. Studies at 400°C show manifestation of DSA on LCF behavior at 400°C in the form increased cyclic hardening which tends to offset softening effects at higher strain amplitudes. Plastic strain dependence of fatigue lives exhibited bilinearity in Coffin-Manson plots at all temperatures. TEM substructures revealed that planar slip with deformation concentrated on slip bands is the major deformation mode under all the conditions examined. However, homogeneity of deformation increases with increase in strain and temperature. At 25°C, with increasing strain, increased homogeneity manifested in the form of increased number of slip bands. At 650°C, with increase in strain, increased dislocation activity in the inter-slip band regions lead to increased homogeneity. It is also seen that fine deformation twins that form at 650°C and low strain amplitudes play a role in aiding homogenization of deformation. Unlike other alloy systems where an environmental effect or a change in deformation mechanism leads to bilinearity in Coffin – Manson (CM) plots, our study shows that differences in distribution of slip is the reason behind bilinear CM plots. While the properties and behavior of alloy 720LI under monotonic and cyclic loading conditions over a range of temperatures could be rationalized on the basis of deformation substructures, the thesis opens up the door for further in-depth studies on deformation mechanisms in 720LI as well as other disc alloys of similar microstructure.
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