In the recent two decades advanced martensitic/ferritic 9-12% Cr steels are recognized to be the most potential materials for 650°C Ultra Super Critical (USC) Power Plants. The critical issues are the improvement of long-term creep strength and corrosion resistance. The aim of the present research is to design new super heat-resistant 12% Cr martensitic/ferritic steels using basic principles and concepts of physical metallurgy, to test and optimize model alloys and to investigate and clarify their behavior under long-term creep conditions with emphasis on microstructural stability and corrosion resistance.
Fine distributions of stable precipitates, which block the movement of subgrain boundaries (M23C6 carbides, Laves phase) and dislocations (MX carbonitrides) and delay coarsening of microstructure, are the key to high creep strength of this type of steels. Therefore, different carbide, nitride and Laves phase forming elements (Cr, W, Nb, V, Ta, Ti) have been used to provide precipitation hardening. Furthermore, the aim is to produce a sequence of precipitates with different kinetics, i.e. with precipitation of a new phase during coarsening of the prior one. Co has been used for obtaining 100% martensite initially and for slowing down diffusion processes and particle coarsening. The partial replacement of Co by Cu is also investigated to reduce costs.
The first results of mechanical tests of the studied model alloys have shown positive effects of the addition of W and Ta as Laves phase and MX forming elements, respectively, as well as of the addition of B. Alloying with Co has also shown beneficial effects on the creep strength.