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METAL 2009 19. 21. 5.

2009, Hradec nad Moravic


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EVALUATION AND COMPARISON OF MICROSTRUCTURAL CHARACTERISTICS OF
ACICULAR FERRITE AND GRANULAR BAINITE

HODNOCEN A SROVNN MIKROSTRUKTURNCH CHARAKTERISTIK
ACIKULRNHO FERITU A GRANULRNHO BAINITU

Eva Mazancov
a

Zdenka Ruck
a

Dagmar Jandov
b

Karel Mazanec
a


a
VB-TU Ostrava, T. 17. listopadu 15, 708 33 Ostrava-Poruba, R, eva.mazancova@vsb.cz
b
KODA VZKUM, s.r.o., Tylova 1/57, 316 00 Plze, R, dagmar.jandova@skodavyzkum.cz

Abstract
In paper two steel are analyzed with the same chemical composition practically. Firstly, attention has
been devoted to acicular ferrite, its microstructural parameters, substructure, fractographical
characteristics and hydrogen response. Further acicular ferrite properties have been compared with
similar ones detected in M/A (martensite/austenite) constituent being part of granular bainite
microstructure in as rolled condition. Acicular ferrite as well as the M/A constituent are responsible for
final steel properties.

1. INTRODUCTION
Acicular ferrite formation is connected with the similar temperature as upper bainite, practically
and acicular ferrite plates (laths) are nucleated at nucleable particles, intragranularly. After faster
cooling process up to 30 C in second, acicular ferrite microstructure is realized at temperature of
500 C, approximately. Woven, chaotic microstructure is typical for acicular ferrite being responsible
for generally favourable toughness. Comparable strength properties with detected ones in upper
bainite are ascribed to displacive mechanism of acicular ferrite formation [1].
The granular bainite is formed in temperature interval slightly higher than that of the upper bainite
as was presented by Habraken and Economopulos [2]. At faster cooling rates a steep carbon
concentration gradient is developed in the austenite, which is high supersaturated with carbon [3]. As
a consequence of this carbon super-saturation, cementite precipitation occurs at ferrite-austenite
interface during the transformation process. This corresponds to the well known feature of the upper
bainite. On the contrary to these conditions, at slower cooling rates the carbon concentration is lower
at ferrite-austenite interface. During the continuous cooling of steel the M/A (martensite/autenite)
constituent is formed in granular bainite being responsible for degradation of toughness under tensile
stress [4].
Both above discussed austenite transformation products are formed by displacive mechanism
being connected with higher dislocation density, generally. The aim of the work is a comparison of
their microstructure characteristics.

2. EXPERIMENTAL MATERIAL AND TECHNIQUE
For the analysis two steel types were used. Chemical compositions are presented in Table 1.
Material with acicular ferrite represents continuous cast slab after intensive cooling with water showers
(to 800 C) and compressed air further about 350 C having 125 (thickness) x 800 (width) mms in
dimensions. The second studied material corresponds to flange of the U-profile of 100 x 50 mm in
dimensions. Flange thickness equals 12 mm unlike the web being of 18 mm. These thickness
disproportions have led to different cooling conditions from the final rolling temperature (1050 C) and
consequently to different M/A constituent volume fraction.


Table 1. Chemical compositions of used materials (wt. %). Matrix with acicular ferrite is marked as AF,
granular bainite matrix with M/A constituent as M/A

Material C Mn Si S P Mo Nb Alc Alk
AF 0.19 1.34 0.19 0.008 0.014 - - 0.032 0.025
M/A 0.08 1.75 0.40 0.003 0.020 0.25 0.05 0.028 0.022

Tabulka 1. Chemick sloen pouitch materil (hm %)
In addition to the conventional light microscopy in case of both materials, for the reliable detection
of the M/A constituent in granular bainite a special etching technique was used. The special etching
METAL 2009 19. 21. 5. 2009, Hradec nad Moravic
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agent is based on the 4% C
2
H
3
OH picric acid solution and 1 % water solution of Na
2
S
2
O
4
.2H
2
O. The
volume fraction, distribution and size of the M/A constituent were determined. Further, for both studied
materials using transmission electron microscopy (TEM) of thin foils (JEM-200CX) in bright and dark
field dislocation density was determined both in M/A constituents and in acicular ferrite plates.
Simultaneously, the microfractography analyses of fracture surfaces of Charpy V notch impact
specimens was performed. In case of granular bainite microstructure the carbon concentration was
measured in the M/A constituent areas using micro-analyser (Philips SEM equipment with WDA).

Fig. 1. Micrographs of slab showing acicular ferrite plates a) general view (magnification x 120); b)
acicular ferrite plates with pearlite filling (magnification x 2800) - nital
a) b)












Obr. 1. Mikrostruktura bramy s deskami acikulrnho feritu a) celkov pohled (zvten x 120); b)
detail acikulrn feritickch desek s perlitickou vpln (zvten x 2800)

3. RESULTS
Micrograph image of slab is presented in Fig. 1a. Figure 1b. shows it in detail. In average about
67 % of acicular ferrite was detected in microstructure, situated intragranularly solely. Of course,
austenitic grains were also decorated with discontinuous alotriomorphic ferrite, being both active and
inactive and inside the austenitic grains few idiomorphic ferrite were detected, too. Pearlite matrix
formed the fulfilling. Primary austenite grain size is 280m in average.
After etching in nital, flange and web microstructure show none differences, practically with
exception of coarser microstructure in case of web as it follows from Fig. 2a. and Fig. 2b. However
after etching in special etching agent mentioned above important changes can be observed. The white
areas correspond to M/A constituent being situated about primary austenite grain boundaries and
regarding web in interior of those grains, too. In case of web M/A volume fraction amounted to 29 %,
in case of flange to 7 % only, how can bee seen in Fig. 3a. and Fig. 3b. Generally, slower cooling
process is connected with higher volume fraction of M/A constituent and higher thickness of web. The
maximum particle size of the M/A constituent of web attains 6m on the contrary to flange, where the
size is only 1-2m and the particles are more uniform. The block-form of M/A constituent was found in
majority cases and its rod-form was observed rarely.

Fig. 2. Micrograph of a) web; b) flange of U-profile (magnification x 500) nital
a) b)














Obr. 2. Mikrostruktura a) stojiny; b) pruby U-profilu (zvten x 500) - nital


METAL 2009 19. 21. 5. 2009, Hradec nad Moravic
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Fig. 3. M/A constituent in a) web; b) flange (magnification x 500) special etchant
a) b)













Obr. 3. M/A sloka ve a) stojin; b) prub (zvten x 500) speciln leptadlo

In further stage TEM was carried out. Figures 4a., b. demonstrate acicular ferrite micrograph.
Figure 5. shows alotriomorphic ferrite substructure. Acicular ferrite forms prolonged plates (laths) with
uneven grains (high angle boundaries). Acicular ferrite plates are divided by dislocation walls into sub-
grains showing the average dislocation density of 1.1.10
14
m
-2
. It should be state the dislocation
density in sub-grains is varying (0.2-1.7. 10
14
m
-2
). Figure 5. represents micrograph of alotriomorphic
ferrite being nucleated as the first austenite transformation product by diffusion mechanism in cooling
process. In any case, alotriomorphic ferrite none sub-grains includes and its dislocation density is
much lower than the one detected in acicular ferrite as it follows from Fig. 4. and Fig. 5.

Fig. 4a. and Fig. 4b. Micrograph of acicular ferrite substructure
a) b)












Obr. 4a. a Obr. 4b. Mikrostruktura substruktury acikulrnho feritu

Fig. 5. Micrograph of alotriomorphic ferrite substructure















Obr. 5. Mikrostruktura substruktury alotriomorfnho feritu

d
e
s
k
a

A
F

METAL 2009 19. 21. 5. 2009, Hradec nad Moravic
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Substructure of M/A constituent represent Fig. 6a. and Fig. 6b. As it seen in the figures the internal
twinning in martensite plates was found. This one is characteristic for the high carbon martensite. The
carbon concentration measured in areas of the M/A constituent (WDA) is 0.60% approximately.
Dislocation density of the M/A constituent corresponds to 4.5.10
14
m
-2
.

Fig. 6. Substructure of martensite in the M/A constituent a) bright field image; b) dark field image
a) b)

Obr. 6. Substruktura martensitu v M/A sloce a) svtl pole; b) tmav pole (112)



Fig. 7. Fracture surface of Charpy V-notch specimens containing acicular ferrite a) magnification x
670;b) detail magnification x 1620
a) b)













Obr. 7. Lomov plocha vzork s acikulrnm feriten a Charpyho V-vrubem a) zvten x 670;b) detail
zvten x 1620

Acicular ferrite represents woven, chaotic matrix showing favourable toughness. Typical acicular
ferrite fracture surfaces Fig. 7 a. and Fig. 7b.demonstrate. Fracture surface shows even dimple
character and the average dimple diameter equals 2.4m. In case of granular bainite results of the
microfractography analysis corresponds to the determined different values of the impact toughness of
specimens taken from the web and flange. The fracture surfaces have a cleavage feature and the
intergranular fractures are not observed. The average dimension of fracture facets corresponds to
20m in the case of web as can be seen in Fig. 8a. On the contrary the average dimension of flange
cleavage facets is 7m only as it follows from Fig. 8b. In this figure higher occurrence of ductile ridges
can be observed.










METAL 2009 19. 21. 5. 2009, Hradec nad Moravic
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Fig. 8. Fracture surface of Charpy V-notch specimen a) web; b) flance (magnification
x 500)
a)














Obr. 8. Lomov plocha vzork s Charpyho V-vrubem a) stojina; b) pruba (zvten
x 500)

4. DISCUSSION
Acicular ferrite plates (laths) are nucleated intragranularly on specific non-metallic particles at the
same temperature as upper bainite, practically [5-7]. The plates (laths) are realized without diffusion
process, by displacive mechanism showing chaotic configuration. The filling corresponded to pearlite
microstructure in presented case. Displacive mechanism is connected with higher dislocation density,
what was also confirmed. The dislocation density corresponded to 10
14
m
-2
of order. However, it is
interested, that the similar value was also detected in case of alotriomorphic ferrite, even when this f
errite type is diffusion austenite transformation product. Hence, there could be awaited the dislocation
density lower in order. It is true, the measurement was only informative. The higher dislocation density
of acicular ferrite is supposed to contribute to general favorable hydrogen induced cracking resistance,
too [8]. Higher dislocation density represents other potential traps for regular hydrogen distribution,
even when the main response for the hydrogen resistance can be taken into account the high angle
boundaries being detected among neighbouring acicular ferrite plates (laths) corresponding to energy
obstacle for cleavage crack propagation [9, 10].
Regarding the thicker part of the U-profile-web, the higher volume fraction of M/A constituent
corresponds to its lower cooling rate unlike the thinner flange following from Fig. 3a. and Fig. 3b.
Based on diffusion-less formation of granular bainite, the possible effect influencing the M/A
constituent formation can be described as follows. During the granular bainite transformation, its sub-
unit grains form and inherit the full carbon content of the parent austenite. In practice, the whole of the
austenite grain does not transform instantaneously owing to kinetic restriction (heterogeneous
nucleation). The first sub-unit grain forms with full super-saturation what is followed with a process of
the excess carbon rejecting into the residual austenite. As the granular bainite ferrite transformation
proceeds, in the residual austenite the carbon concentration will be gradually increased up to the
critical carbon content corresponding to temperature when austenite and ferrite of given composition
have equal free enthalpy. When austenite being enriched with carbon is continuously cooled to a
temperature lying below the martensite transformation start (temperature M
s
) it will transform to
martensite partially. The result of this process is the M/A constituent formation. Hence, the amount of
the M/A constituent is related to the critical carbon content of the residual austenite where the bainite
transformation increases [11].
The detected high carbon content of 0.60% represents 7.5 times higher carbon level than is
analyzed in Table 1. Observed substructure documented by Figs. 6a., 6b. and detected dislocation
density of the M/A constituent are an evidence of high carbon martensite being formed by displacive
mechanism.

5. CONCLUSIONS
Two microstructures being formed by displacive mechanism are compared. It regards acicular
ferrite and M/A constituent being granular bainite product. Acicular ferrite demonstrated a higher
dislocation density (1.1.10
14
m
-2
in average). It can be held for further hydrogen traps in case of
hydrogen resistance evaluation. Results show 7.5 times higher carbon content in M/A constituent
being evidence of high carbon martensite. It was confirmed through substructure of M/A constituent
plate.

METAL 2009 19. 21. 5. 2009, Hradec nad Moravic
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ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
Authors acknowledge the Department of Industry and Trade of Czech Republic for financial
support (FI-IM 3/159).

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