Effects of Mn, P, S, Si & V on the Mechanical Properties of

Steel
The general symbol of a chemical element is represented by:
AZN
where A is the atomic number indicating the number of protons exist in the nucleus
of the atom; N is the atomic mass unit, defined as the ratio of the average mass per
atom to 1/12 of the atomic mass of carbon-12 in its nuclear and electronic ground
state; and Z is the chemical symbol of the element.


Manganese, 25Mn54. 938049

Manganese increases hardenability and tensile strength of steel, but to a lesser
extent than carbon. It is also able to decrease the critical cooling rate during
hardening, thus increasing the steels hardenability much more efficient than any
other alloying elements. Manganese also tends to increase the rate of carbon
penetration during carburizing and acts as a mild deoxidizing agent. However when
too high carbon and too high manganese accompany each other, embrittlement sets
in. Manganese is capable to form Manganese Sulphide (MnS) with
sulphur, which is beneficial to machining. At the same time, it counters the
brittleness from sulphur and is beneficial to the surface finish of carbon steel.
For welding purposes, the ratio of manganese to sulphur should be at least 10 to 1.
Manganese content of less than 0.30% may promote internal porosity and cracking
in the weld bead, cracking can also result if the content is over 0.80%. Steel with low
Manganese Sulphide ratio may contain sulphur in the form of iron Sulphide (FeS),
which can cause cracking (a “hotshort” condition) in the weld

Phosphorus, 15P30. 973761

Phosphorus increases strength and hardness, but at the expense of ductility and
impact to toughness, especially in higher carbon steels that are quenched and
tempered. As such its content in most steel is limited to a maximum of 0.05%.
Phosphorus prevents the sticking of light-gage sheets when it is used as an alloy in
steel. It strengthens low carbon steel to a degree, increases resistance to corrosion
and improves machinability in free-cutting steels. In terms of welding, phosphorus
content of over 0.04% makes weld brittle and increases the tendency to crack. The
surface tension of the molten weld metal is lowered, making it difficult
to control.



Sulphur, 16S32. 065

Sulphur improves machinability but lowers transverse ductility and notched impact
toughness and has little effects on the longitudinal mechanical properties. Its
content is limited to 0.05% in steels but is added to freecutting steels in amount up
to 0.35% with the manganese content increased to counter any detrimental effects
since sulphur is beneficial to machining. For welding, weldability decreases with
increasing sulphur content. Sulphur is detrimental to surface quality in low carbon
and low manganese steels and it promotes hot shortness in welding with the
tendency increasing with increased sulphur.

Silicon, 14Si28. 0855

Silicon increases strength and hardness but to a lesser extent than manganese. It is
one of the principal deoxidizers used in the making of steels to improve soundness,
i.e. to be free from defects, decays or damages. Silicon is present in all steels to a
certain extent. Its content can be up to 4% for electric sheets that are widely used in
alternating current magnetic circuits. In welding, silicon is detrimental to surface
quality, especially in the low carbon, resulphurized grades. It aggravates cracking
tendencies when the carbon content is fairly high. For best welding condition,
silicon content should not exceed 0.10%. However, amounts up to 0.30% are not as
serious as high sulphur or phosphorus content.

For galvanizing purposes, steels containing more than 0.04% silicon can greatly
affect the thickness and appearance of the galvanized coating. This will result in
thick coatings consisting mainly zinc-iron alloys and the surface has a dark and dull
finish. But it provides as much corrosion protection as a shiny galvanized coating
where the outer layer is pure zinc.

Vanadium, 23V50. 9415s

Vanadium is used to refine grain size. Steels containing vanadium have a much finer
grain structure than steels of similar compositions without vanadium. It decreases
the rate of grain growth during heat treating processes and raises the temperature
at which grain coarsening sets in thus improving the strength and toughness of
hardened and tempered steels. Contents up to 0.05% increases hardenability while
larger amounts tend to reduce hardenability due to the formation of carbide.
Vanadium lessens softening on tempering and induces secondary
hardness on high speed steels.

Vanadium is used in nitriding, heat resisting, tool and spring steels together with
other alloying elements. It is also being utilized in ferrite/pearlite microalloy steels
to increase hardness through carbonitride precipitation strengthening of the matrix.