The effect of hydrogen charging on the mechanical properties and fracture mechanisms of high-nitrogen chromium-manganese steels after age-hardening
Currently, many technical problems require a comprehensive study of the properties of materials operating in hydrogen-containing environments. The authors investigated the effect of age-hardening on the hydrogen embrittlement and fracture micromechanisms of high-nitrogen austenitic Fe-23Cr-17Mn-0.1C-0.6N (wt. %) steel. For this purpose, using heat treatments, the authors formed in specimens of Fe-23Cr-17Mn-0.1C-0.6N steel the structural phase states characterized by different distribution and content of dispersed phases. The experiment determined that the accumulation of hydrogen atoms occurs predominantly in the grains in solution-treated specimens without dispersed phases. This causes the effects of solid solution hardening and leads to a change in the micromechanism of steel fracture from a ductile dimple fracture in the absence of hydrogen to a transgranular fracture by the quasi-cleavage mechanism in hydrogen-charged specimens. It was established that the discontinuous decomposition of austenite with the formation of Cr2N cells and austenite depleted in nitrogen, predominantly along the grain boundaries causes the formation of a large fraction of interphase (austenite/Cr2N particles) boundaries. Cells of discontinuous decomposition promote hydrogen accumulation along the grain boundaries and cause brittle intergranular fracture of hydrogen-charged specimens during plastic deformation. The study showed that in specimens with the discontinuous decomposition of austenite both along the grain boundaries and spreading into the grain body, plenty of intragranular interphase boundaries (Cr2N plates in austenite) are formed, which causes the formation of a transgranular brittle fracture in the hydrogen-charged specimens.
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