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High Temperature Corrosion Failure of Super Alloy Turbine Blades

High Temperature Corrosion Failure of Super Alloy Turbine Blades

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Published by: Vijay436 on Sep 08, 2009
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High Temperature Corrosion Failure of Super AlloyTurbine Blades
V. Vijay RaghavanQatar PetroleumP.O.Box 100001Dukhan, Qatar Fax No: (0974) 4717488E-mail:v_vijayaraghavan@qp.com.qa
Two first-stage turbine blades catastrophically failed in operation. The Fracturedsurface indicated that the crack was propagated by high cycle fatigue (HCF). The presence of corrosion products of sulfur on the blades pointed out a possibility of Type 2 high temperature corrosion. The Manufacturers recommendation was to usinga heavy-duty filtration to remove contaminants to eliminate the High temperaturecorrosion. The alloy used in the blades was a second generation CMSX-4, a productespecially developed for high temperature operations for aircraft turbines. Thismeans reason for the failure needed further investigation. This paper is a brief  presentation of the corrosion failure study conducted by the Qatar Petroleum’sCorrosion Section.
1.Super alloys -History.2.Nickel Based Super alloys3.Application of Nickel based super alloys4.Super Alloy Casting5.1
, 2
and 3
Generation single crystal Nickel based Super alloys.6.Microstructure of Single crystal super alloy casting.7.What really happened? The failure8.Investigation and Test Methodology9.
1.Super alloys -History. 
The term "superalloy" was first used shortly after World War II to describe a group of alloys developed for use in turbo-superchargers and aircraft turbine engines that requiredhigh performance at elevated temperatures. The range of applications for whichsuperalloys are used has expanded into many other areas and now includes aircraftturbines, land-based gas turbines, rocket engines, chemical, and petroleum plants. Theyare particularly well suited for these demanding applications because of their ability toretain most of their strength even after long exposure times above 650°C (1,200°F). Their versatility stems from the fact that they combine this high strength with good low-temperature ductility and excellent surface stability.Super-alloys are based on Group VIIIB elements and usually consist of variouscombinations of Fe, Ni, Co, and Cr, as well as lesser amounts of W, Mo, Ta, Nb, Ti, andAl. The three major classes of super-alloys are nickel, iron, and cobalt-based alloys. AsCMSX 4 is a Nickel alloy we limit our discussion to Nickel based super alloys.
2.Nickel based Super alloys
 Nickel-based alloys can be either solid solution or precipitation strengthened/Hardened.Solid solution strengthened alloys, such as Hastelloy X, are used in applications requiringonly modest strength. In the most demanding applications, such as hot sections of gasturbine engines, a precipitation strengthened alloy is required. Most nickel-based alloyscontain 10-20% Cr, up to 8% Al and Ti, 5-10% Co, and small amounts of B, Zr, and C.Other common additions are Mo, W, Ta, Hf, and Nb (often still referred to as"columbium" although the name "niobium" was adopted by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry in 1950 after more than 100 years of controversy). In broadterms, the elemental additions in Ni-base superalloys can be categorized as being i)formers (elements that tend to partition to the
matrix, ii) ' formers (elements that partition to the ' precipitate, iii) carbide formers, and iv) elements that segregate to thegrain boundaries. Elements which are considered formers are Group V, VI, and VIIelements such as Co, Cr, Mo,W, Fe. The atomic diameters of these alloys are only 3-13%different than Ni (the primary matrix element). ' formers come from group III, IV, and Velements and include Al, Ti, Nb, Ta, Hf. The atomic diameters of these elements differ from Ni by 6-18%. The main carbide formers are Cr, Mo, W, Nb, Ta, Ti. The primarygrain boundary elements are B, C, and Zr. Their atomic diameters are 21-27% differentthan Ni.The major phases present in most nickel superalloys are as follows:
Gamma (
The continuous matrix (called gamma) is an face-centered-cubic(fcc) nickel-based austenitic phase that usually contains a high percentage of solid-solution elements such as Co, Cr, Mo, and W.
Gamma Prime ('):
The primary strengthening phase in nickel-based superalloysis Ni
(Al,Ti), and is called gamma prime ('). It is a coherently precipitating phase(i.e., the crystal planes of the precipitate are in registry with the gamma matrix)with an ordered L1
(FCC) crystal structure. The close match in matrix/precipitatelattice parameter (~0-1%)
combined with the chemical compatibility allows the
' to precipitate homogeneously
throughout the matrix and have long-timestability. Interestingly, the flow stress of the ' increases with increasingtemperature up to about 650
C (1200
F). In addition, ' is quite ductile and thusimparts strength to the matrix without lowering the fracture toughness of thealloy. Aluminum and titanium are the major constituents and are added inamounts and mutual proportions to precipitate a high volume fraction in thematrix. In some modern alloys the volume fraction of the ' precipitate is around70%. There are many factors that contribute to the hardening imparted by the 'and include ' fault energy, ' strength, coherency strains, volume fraction of ',and ' particle size.Extremely small ' precipitates always occur as spheres. In fact, for a givenvolume of precipitate, a sphere has 1.24 less surface area than a cube, and thus isthe preferred shape to minimize
energy. With a coherent particle,however, the
energy can be minimized by forming cubes and allowingthe crystalographic planes of the cubic matrix and precipitate to remaincontinuous. Thus as the ' grows, the morphology can change from spheres tocubes (as shown in this figure) or plates depending on the value of thematrix/precipitate lattice mismatch. For larger mismatch values the critical particle size where the change from spheres to cubes (or plates) occurs is reduced.Coherency can be lost by overaging. One sign of a loss of coherency is directionalcoarsening (aspect ratio) and rounding of the cube edges. Increasing directionalcoarsening for increasing (positive or negative) mismatch is also expected.
Carbon, added at levels of 0.05-0.2%, combines with reactive andrefractory elements such as titanium, tantalum, and hafnium to form carbides(e.g., TiC, TaC, or HfC). During heat treatment and service, these begin todecompose and form lower carbides such as M
and M
C, which tend to formon the grain boundaries. These common carbides all have an fcc crystal structure.Results vary on whether carbides are detrimental or advantageous to superalloy properties. The general opinion is that in superalloys with grain boundaries,carbides are beneficial by increasing rupture strength at high tempeature.
Topologically Close-Packed Phases:
These are generally undesirable, brittle phases that can form during heat treatment or service. The cell structure of these phases have close-packed atoms in layers separated by relatively large interatomicdistances. The layers of close packed atoms are displaced from one another bysandwiched larger atoms, developing a characteristic "topology." Thesecompounds have been characterized as possessing a topologically close-packed(TCP) structure. Conversely, Ni
Al (gamma prime) is close-packed in alldirections and is called geometrically close-packed (GCP).TCPs (, µ, Laves, etc.) usually form as plates (which appear as needles on asingle-plane microstructure.) The plate-like structure negatively affectsmechanical properties (ductility and creep-rupture.) Sigma appears to be the mostdeleterious while strength retention has been observed in some alloys containingmu and Laves. TCPs are potentially damaging for two reasons: they tie up and '

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