Low Temperature Surface Carburization of Stainless Steels

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Low-temperature colossal supersaturation (LTCSS) is a novel surface hardening method for carburization of austenitic stainless steels (SS) without the precipitation of carbides. The formation of carbides is kinetically suppressed, enabling extremely high or colossal carbon supersaturation. As a result, surface carbon concentrations in excess of 12 at. % are routinely achieved. This treatment increases the surface hardness by a factor of four to five, improving resistance to wear, corrosion, and fatigue, with significant retained ductility. LTCSS is a diffusional surface hardening process that provides a uniform and conformal hardened gradient surface with no risk of delamination or peeling. The treatment ... continued below

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Collins, Sunniva R.; Heuer, Arthur H. & Sikka, Vinod K. December 7, 2007.

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Description

Low-temperature colossal supersaturation (LTCSS) is a novel surface hardening method for carburization of austenitic stainless steels (SS) without the precipitation of carbides. The formation of carbides is kinetically suppressed, enabling extremely high or colossal carbon supersaturation. As a result, surface carbon concentrations in excess of 12 at. % are routinely achieved. This treatment increases the surface hardness by a factor of four to five, improving resistance to wear, corrosion, and fatigue, with significant retained ductility. LTCSS is a diffusional surface hardening process that provides a uniform and conformal hardened gradient surface with no risk of delamination or peeling. The treatment retains the austenitic phase and is completely non-magnetic. In addition, because parts are treated at low temperature, they do not distort or change dimensions. During this treatment, carbon diffusion proceeds into the metal at temperatures that constrain substitutional diffusion or mobility between the metal alloy elements. Though immobilized and unable to assemble to form carbides, chromium and similar alloying elements nonetheless draw enormous amounts of carbon into their interstitial spaces. The carbon in the interstitial spaces of the alloy crystals makes the surface harder than ever achieved before by more conventional heat treating or diffusion process. The carbon solid solution manifests a Vickers hardness often exceeding 1000 HV (equivalent to 70 HRC). This project objective was to extend the LTCSS treatment to other austenitic alloys, and to quantify improvements in fatigue, corrosion, and wear resistance. Highlights from the research include the following: • Extension of the applicability of the LTCSS process to a broad range of austenitic and duplex grades of steels • Demonstration of LTCSS ability for a variety of different component shapes and sizes • Detailed microstructural characterization of LTCSS-treated samples of 316L and other alloys • Thermodynamic modeling to explain the high degree of carbon solubility possible in austenitic grades under the LTCSS process and experimental validation of model results • Corrosion testing to determine the corrosion resistance improvement possible from the LTCSS process • Erosion testing to determine the erosion resistance improvement possible from the LTCSS process • Wear testing to quantify the wear resistance improvement possible from the LTCSS process • Fatigue testing for quantifying the extent of improvement from the LTCSS process • Component treating and testing under simulated and in-line commercial operations XRD verified expanded austenite lattice, with no evidence of carbide precipitation. Carbon concentration profiles via Auger and electron dispersion spectroscopy (EDS) showed carbon levels in excess of 12 at. % in treated, type 316 SS. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) of pulled-to-failure treated tensile specimens showed slip bands and no de-cohesion of the treated layer, verifying that the layer remains ductile. Compressive stresses in excess of 2 GPa (300 ksi) have been calculated at the surface of the case. Phase diagram (CALPHAD) (ThermoCalc) and Wagner dilute solution thermodynamic models were developed that calculate the solubility of carbon in austenite as a function of alloying content for the process time and temperature. Several commercial alloys have been modeled, and the model has been used to design experimental alloys with enhanced affinity for carbon solubility at treatment temperatures. Four experimental alloys were melted, rolled, and manufactured into test specimens, and the LTCSS treatment indicated successfully enhanced results and validated the predictions based on thermodynamic modeling. Electrochemical polarization curves show a 600 to 800 mV increase in pitting potential in treated (900-1000 mV) versus non-treated (200-300 mV) type 316 in chloride solutions. Treated 316L showed crevice-corrosion behavior similar to that of Ti-6Al-4V and Hastelloy C22. Cavitation tests showed significant increases in cavitation resistance for treated materials as compared to the non-treated materials. Standard ASTM pin-on-disk sliding friction and reciprocating friction wear tests also indicate significant enhancement in wear properties. Fatigue testing showed an order of magnitude improvement for treated versus non-treated Type 316 at the same maximum stress level (R = -1). The maximum stress at 107 cycles and the endurance stress for infinite life, improved by approximately 50%, from 30 to 45 ksi. The energy savings from this project is estimated at 21.8 trillion Btu/year by 2020. This energy savings will be associated with a CO2 reduction of 1.3 million ton/year. One application of this technology in a sludge pump of a cardboard recycling plant during the course of this project has resulted in an energy savings of 84  106 Btu and cost savings of $900.

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  • Report No.: DE-FC36-04GO14045
  • Grant Number: FC36-04GO14045
  • DOI: 10.2172/920895 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 920895
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc901012

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  • December 7, 2007

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Sept. 27, 2016, 1:39 a.m.

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  • Jan. 9, 2017, 10:44 a.m.

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Collins, Sunniva R.; Heuer, Arthur H. & Sikka, Vinod K. Low Temperature Surface Carburization of Stainless Steels, report, December 7, 2007; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc901012/: accessed October 18, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.