Effect of tempering temperature on the microstructure and mechanical properties of a reactor pressure vessel steel
C.W. Li, L.Z. Han, X.M. Luo, Q.D. Liu, J.F. Gu*
Keywords: Reactor pressure vessel steel; Tempering temperature; Martensite/austenite constituents; Microstructure; Mechanical properties
Abstract: The microstructure and mechanical properties of reactor pressure vessel (RPV) steel were investigated after tempering at different temperatures ranging from 580 to 700 °C for 5 h. With increasing tempering temperature, the impact toughness, which is qualified by Charpy V-notch total absorbed energy, initially increases from 142 to 252 J, and then decreases to 47 J, with a maximum value at 650 °C, while the ultimate tensile strength varies in exactly the opposite direction. Comparing the microstructure and fracture surfaces of different specimens, the variations in toughness and strength with the tempering temperature were generally attributed to the softening of the bainitic ferrite, the agminated Fe3C carbides that resulted from decomposition of martensite/austenite (M/A) constituents, the precipitation of Mo2C carbides, and the newly formed M/A constituents at the grain boundaries. Finally, the correlation between the impact toughness and the volume fraction of the M/A constituents was established, and the fracture mechanisms for the different tempering conditions are explained.