The process of decarburization was taken into consideration in order to investigate the lowhardness values shown in 1095 steel samples. If allowed to occur, decarburization reduces thecarbon content within metal samples and may adversely affect its mechanical properties. A testmatrix was designed to investigate the role of temperature and duration of the heat treatment inthe process of decarburization. Heat treatments of 1095 steel samples were conducted at threedifferent temperatures (830, 865 and 900
C) and over three different times (1, 3 and 5 hours).The resulting depth of the decarburization layer produced through each of the various heattreatments was recorded and graphed.Upon analyzing the resulting trends in the depth of the decarburization layer for the various heattreatments conducted, it was observed that increasing the duration of the treatment increasedthe depth of the layer regardless of the temperature at which the samples were treated. Thedepth of the decarburized layer was greater for treatments held at 865
C than for thoseconducted at 830
C for each of the three treatment durations. However, a clear, linear patternbetween the temperature of the heat treatment and the depth of the layer was not present.Using the Arrhenius Equation, the experimental activation energy required for decarburizationwas calculated and compared to a theoretical value. The experimental energy was found to besubstantially smaller than calculated theoretically.
In the investigation of undesirably low surface hardness values in 1095 steel samples, potentialdecarburization occurring during the heat treatment was suspected. Decarburization cannegatively impact steel's mechanical properties, causing the metal to exhibit decreased surfacehardness and strength. Because of this, it may be important to minimize the amount ofdecarburization that may take place during the production process.Decarburization occurs when there is a concentration gradient between the steel sample andthe furnace environment. Low carbon content in the furnace atmosphere causes its chemicalpotential to be lower than that of the steel. Thus it becomes thermodynamically favorable forthe carbon to diffuse out of the steel. This effectively causes a phase change at the surface ofthe steel sample where diffusion takes place, and the resulting phase, ferrite, has a lowersurface hardness than the pearlite that exists below the decarburized layer.
The opposite process, carburization, involves the use of a high carbon-containing source, likegaseous CO, to diffuse carbon into the surface of the steel from the surrounding atmosphere.Carburization can improve surface hardness, wear resistance, and fatigue and tensile strengthsbecause the presence of excess carbon atoms increases lattice strain. A list of the materialproperties induced by carburization is listed in