Controlling Heat Treatment Controlling Heat Treatment of Welded P91 of Welded P91

Hardness testing proves to be a powerful tool for checking the condition of P91

Modified 9Cr-1Mo, commonly referred to as P91, is widely used in the power industry because of its superior properties at elevated temperatures. P91 get its favorable strength and toughness properties from its microstructure. The desired microstructure can only be obtained using material with a well-balanced chemical analysis and proper heat treatment. Heat treatment is an especially critical step during the manufacturing and fabrication of P91. P91 is a martensitic chromium-molybdenum steel, microalloyed with vanadium and niobium, and with a controlled nitrogen content. In the as-welded condition, P91’s microstructure consists of “fresh” martensite. This untempered martensite is hard and brittle. The toughness is low and the material is prone to stress corrosion cracking. In addition, while the creep properties of fresh martensite are unknown, they can safely be assumed to be unfavorable. Therefore, tempering of the formed martensite in P91 after welding is necessary to obtain the required service properties. Proper heat treatment will result in tempered martensite with precipitated carbides (M23C6) and vanadium/ niobium-rich carbo-nitrides. The hardness of weld and base metal will be between 200 and 270 Vickers hardness number (VHN), and toughness will be sufficient, i.e., higher than 27 J (20 ft-lb) at 20°C (68°F).

interface, a fine-grained heat-affected zone (FGHAZ) can be distinguished. Figure 1 represents typical hardnesses along a postweld heat-treated weld metal, HAZ, and base metal of P91. Figure 1 shows that the highest hardness is found in the CGHAZ, and the lowest hardness in the FGHAZ. This FGHAZ is the area with the weakest creep properties and the location where the so-called Type IV cracking occurs (Ref. 1).

Effects of Variation in Heat Treatment Parameters during PWHT
TNO Industrial Technology and NEM performed many hardness tests on P91 in different heat treatment conditions. Figure 2 illustrates the effects of various heat treatments on weld metal (maximum) hardness. The hardness is presented as a function of the Larson Miller parameter (LMP), which is used to characterize the combination of heat treatment time and temperature. The LMP is valid for the temperature of stress relief heat treatment. Postweld heat treatment with an LMP between the two dotted vertical lines in Fig. 2 leads to good material properties. The window of required heat treatment is represented by 750°C/2 h (i.e., LMP = 20.8) as the lower limit and 770°C/10 h (LMP = 21.9) as the upper limit.

Hardness of P91
The heat from welding will affect the base metal. The heat-affected zone (HAZ) starts directly adjacent to the weld metal at the weld interface. A coarsegrained heat-affected zone (CGHAZ) in the HAZ, and, farther away from the weld

Hardness Test as a Control of PWHT
From Fig. 2, it is clear that there is a direct relation between the Larson Miller parameter and weighted average weld metal hardness; most of the hardness values are expected to be below the average

trend line. Further, this figure shows that the base metal hardness does not vary much with LMP. Base metal hardness is found at a level somewhat above 200 VHN. Only at very high values for LMP can a drop in hardness below, but still close to 200 VHN, be found. This close relation between hardness and PWHT parameters (expressed as LMP), for the weld metal, is very helpful for checking the P91 condition after heat treatment. If a portable hardness test is used, some care should be taken. Often the base metal, weld metal, and HAZ are subjected to hardness testing. However, considering the probe dimension, it is not easy to test the narrow heat-affected zone. Even if one could get some results out of the HAZ, it is difficult to indicate if the values come from the FGHAZ or from the CGHAZ. A relatively low value can be acceptable if it comes from the FGHAZ, but unacceptable if it is found in the CGHAZ — Fig. 1. A fair approach is to test only the weld and base metals. Both of these zones can be easily distinguished. Further, Brühl et al. (Ref. 1) found that the FGHAZ hardness is approximately 20 VHN lower than the base metal. Based on the collected data, this “fixed” difference in hardness between FGHAZ and base metal is confirmed. A relation between CGHAZ hardness and weld or base metal hardness is less pronounced, but it was found that the CGHAZ is roughly up to 20 VHN higher than the mean weld metal hardness. Figure 2 can be used as a guide for interpretation of the test results, keeping the accuracy of portable hardness testing in mind. When analyzing portable test reWORTEL

PATRIC DE SMET ( is welding and materials engineer for NEM b.v., The Netherlands, and HANS ( is senior project manager at TNO Industrial Technology, The Netherlands. 42 JUNE 2006


Regarding toughness of a welded joint. poor surface preparation at test location. Fig. ferrite is partly transformed into austenite (a Æ a +g ). Toughness In Europe. a Charpy-V impact toughness of 27 J (20 ft-lb) is generally considered as sufficiently ductile. Results of Charpy-V impact testing of weld metal with varying LMP for weld metal of submerged arc welds (SAW) is illustrated by Fig. HAZ. Intercritical PWHT In some unfortunate cases. Both situa1. 3 — Charpy-V impact toughness as function of Larson Miller parameter (LMP).8 can a toughness higher than 27 J be guaranteed. hard martensite at rather rapid cooling rates and into soft ferrite at slow cooling rates. Fig. Fig. Heat treatment above A1 results in (partial) transformation of martensite into austenite.CGHAZ Base Metal FGHAZ Fig. 5). 3. 2 — Trend of hardness as function of Larson Miller parameter (LMP). too high LMP) results in low hardness. or testing on a decarburized or heavily deformed surface layer can also lead to inaccurate results. Heat treatment beyond 770°C/10 h (i.e. Heat treatment above the lower critical temperature A1 will ruin the material’s properties (Ref. Directive 97/23 of the European Parliament (Ref. it is interesting to note that NEM and TNO found that in the PWHT condition weld metals with acceptable toughness showed hardnesses lower than 300 VHN. As long as the heat treatment temperature is below the lower critical temperature A11. Some codes. For SAW. 3. keep in mind that the accuracy is lower than that of laboratory test results. require even higher values of 41 J (30 ft-lb) (Refs.4 — Effect of PWHT above lower critical temperature A1. Postweld heat treat- WELDING JOURNAL 43 . Most of the suppliers of P91 filler metals give data for weld metal with a heat treatment around 760°C (1400°F)/2 h (LMP = 21). and can easily be found from hardness test results. Finally. it was found that the toughness in the as-welded condition is around 7 J. This is in line with the values of filler metal suppliers. 2). the weld metal is considered most critical. however. and base metal in PWHT condition. On heating. A1 is the lower transformation temperature. 4).. referred to as PED (pressure equipment directive) adopted this 27 J at 20°C (or at lowest operating temperature) as a safe limit (Ref. 1 — Typical hardness across P91 weld metal. sults. the hardness will stay around 200 VHN. The formed austenite will be transformed into fresh. 2). ment at a too low LMP will result in a too high weld metal hardness. The effect of inadequate handling of the test equipment. even at a very long PWHT duration. components may be postweld heat-treated out of the required range. Only after a PWHT above LMP of 20.

4. A3 is the upper transformation temperature. A good practice is to perform a furnace survey to ensure PWHT within the required temperature window. the A1 is found at around 785°C (1445°F). The lower critical temperature. Finally. Proceedings of the ASME/IEEE Power Generation Conference. W. the base metal hardness is not expected to change during manufacturing. ferrite is transformed into austenite (a +g Æ g ). The lower critical transformation temperature can be estimated using the ORNL data-based relation A1 = 848–42(Ni[%]+Mn[%]) [°C]. Although no ferrite is formed in the base metal. i. Weld metal contains higher percentage Ni and Mn and. 1990. Newel. PWHT above weld and base metal A1. EPRI. Directive 97/23/EC of the European Parliament and of the council. coarsening of carbides. Figure 4 also illustrates situation B. For P91 base metal. A 1. followed by slow cooling C. Henry. but both PWHT time and temperature (LMP) determine the effect of the PWHT cycle. p. below A3 [for A3 refer to footnote 2]). F. Heat treatment above weld and base metal A1. a higher hardness is found for the base and weld metals. June.e. 1Q/2005. p. Growing experience with P91/T91 forcing essential code changes. followed by slow cooling. Heat treatment above weld and base metal A1. 4. Mass. Knowing the initial base metal hardness before PWHT will help to distinguish this situation. followed by rapid cooling. the window for PWHT is relatively narrow. Fig. followed by rapid cooling. it is better to start with a hardness test on incoming material. p.tions are unwanted. is a function of nickel (Ni) and manganese (Mn) (Ref. but formation of ferrite is considered to be the worst situation because creep strength drops to that for grade P22. Experiments also showed that in the case where the weld metal is heat-treated above A1 but the base metal is below it (situation D). Figure 5 represents situation C. which is close to the upper limit of PWHT. PWHT above weld and base metal A1. et al.5%. Postweld heat treatment within the temperature range of 750° to 770°C (1380° to 1420°F) and an LMP of around 21 will lead to good high-temperature properties and toughness for a safe hydrostatic test and to put the installation into service. Combined Cycle Journal.e. but below base metal A1. F. The base metal is softened due to 2. This makes hardness testing a powerful tool for checking the material’s condition. Behavior of the 9% chromium steel P91 and its weldments in short and long term tests. p. This helps to interpret the results after PWHT. 44 JUNE 2006 .. 2005. but below base metal A1. Brühl. but below base metal A1. VdTÜV 511-2. 2002. Figure 4 illustrates situation A. The weld metal now contains some fresh martensite besides the tempered martensite. since the hardness values are comparable to the acceptable range for weld metal and just below the required base metal hardness. References Final Materials Condition Hardness is directly related to PWHT time and temperature characterized as LMP. for PWHT above weld metal but below base metal A1. pp. 23. Formed austenite is now transformed into soft ferrite. Testing only at the end of the line — after final PWHT — is a good practice. therefore. Boston. Heat treatment above weld. N 1. May 29.. basically four extreme situations are possible. i. 5 — Effect of PWHT above weld metal. 9. On heating. However. as well. followed by rapid cooling D. resulting in low hardness for weld and base metal. 6). Because of the poor properties of heat treatment in the intercritical area (above A1. 1997. it is emphasized that not only heat treatment temperature. the hardness drops due to a soft annealing effect. coarsening of carbides. Heat treatment above weld. A. 2. 7. This situation may be somewhat difficult to detect by hardness testing. it is very important to prevent such a PWHT. i. 6.. 3. Dutch Rules for Pressure Vessels. Further. Depending on heat treatment temperature and cooling rate. low hardness values are found in the range indicated in Fig. followed by rapid cooling. Rapid cooling refers to a speed just high enough to prevent ferrite formation out of austenite. 5. 2. followed by rapid cooling B. 1–10.e. J. it is clear that in order to obtain good service properties and toughness. but followed by slow cooling. For Ni+Mn of 1. Sheet M0110. has a lower A1.. A1 is found at around 800°–830°C. As has been shown. Guideline for welding P(T)91 materials. Because of formation of fresh martensite upon cooling.

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