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A New Polycrystalline Co-Ni Superalloy

Article in JOM: the journal of the Minerals, Metals & Materials Society October 2014
DOI: 10.1007/s11837-014-1175-9


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12 authors, including:

Khandaker M. Rahman Barbara Shollock

Imperial College London Imperial College London


Mark Hardy Paul A.J. Bagot

Rolls-Royce University of Oxford


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JOM, Vol. 66, No. 12, 2014
DOI: 10.1007/s11837-014-1175-9
 2014 The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society

A New Polycrystalline Co-Ni Superalloy


T.L. MARTIN,4 P.A.J. BAGOT,4 and D. DYE1,5

1.Department of Materials, Royal School of Mines, Imperial College London, Prince Consort
Road, London SW7 2BP, UK. 2.WMG, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, UK
3.Rolls-Royce plc, Derby DE24 8BJ, UK. 4.Department of Materials, University of Oxford,
Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PH, UK. 5.e-mail: david.dye@imperial.ac.uk

In 2006, a new-ordered L12 phase, Co3(Al,W), was discovered that can form
coherently in a face-centered cubic (fcc) A1 Co matrix. Since then, a commu-
nity has developed that is attempting to take these alloys forward into prac-
tical applications in gas turbines. A new candidate polycrystalline Co-Ni c/c
superalloy, V208C, is presented that has the nominal composition 36Co-35Ni-
15Cr-10Al-3W-1Ta (at.%). The alloy was produced by conventional powder
metallurgy superalloy methods. After forging, a c fraction of 56% and a
secondary c size of 88 nm were obtained, with a grain size of 2.5 lm. The
solvus temperature was 1000C. The density was found to be 8.52 g cm 3,
which is similar to existing Ni alloys with this level of c. The alloy showed the
flow stress anomaly and a yield strength of 920 MPa at room temperature and
820 MPa at 800C, similar to that of Mar-M247. These values are significantly
higher than those found for either conventional solution and carbide-
strengthened Co alloys or the c/c Co superalloys presented in the literature
thus far. The oxidation resistance, with a mass gain of 0.08 mg cm 2 in 100 h
at 800C, is also comparable with that of existing high-temperature Ni su-
peralloys. These results suggest that Co-based and Co-Ni superalloys may
hold some promise for the future in gas turbine applications.

disk alloys are fabricated by powder metallurgy

from inert gas atomized powders.
Nickel-base superalloys are widely used in the hot In common with blade alloys, there is a concern
section of gas turbines because of their outstanding that the temperature capability of Ni polycrystalline
balance of high-temperature oxidation and corro- static structure and disk alloys is reaching a pla-
sion resistance, strength, creep resistance, and fa- teau. This puts at risk continuing improvements in
tigue performance. Much academic attention is paid gas turbine operating efficiency, which from a
to alloys for hollow single-crystal blades, which are thermodynamic standpoint is limited by the turbine
produced by Bridgman casting, coated with a ther- entry temperature. With global air travel demand
mal barrier coating, and further protected from the exhibiting long-term growth rates of around 6% p.a.
hot gas stream by bleed air film cooling. Potentially and concerns over CO2 emissions and so-called
of equal engineering importance, however, are peak oil, there is a strong driver for alloys with
polycrystalline static structures and disk rotors. enhanced temperature capability that retain a rea-
These are typically uncoated and, in addition to sonable balance of mechanical properties, oxidation
creep resistance at the rim, must also have good resistance, and density. Fuel efficiency is also a key
strength, fatigue resistance, and toughness. How- differentiator for gas turbine manufacturers in the
ever, they are only required to sustain rim temper- market and a strong determinant of airline profit-
atures of around 700800C, as opposed to blades ability, to the extent that old aircraft are often re-
that operate in a gas stream that is significantly tired after only 20 years, long before the end of their
above their melting point. The most modern such service life.

(Published online October 17, 2014) 2495

2496 Knop, Mulvey, Ismail, Radecka, Rahman, Lindley, Shollock, Hardy, Moody, Martin, Bagot, and Dye

Therefore, it was fortunate that in 2006, Sato RESULTS

et al. announced the discovery of a new potential
superalloy system1 in which a ductile intermetallic Alloy V208C
cubic phase precipitates coherently from its parent V208Cs composition is provided in Table I.9 The
cubic matrix, based on the newly discovered L12 alloy is designed to have a Co:Ni ratio of just greater
Co3(Al,W) precipitate in an A1 face-centered cubic than 1.0. Shinagawa et al.10 showed that a contin-
(fcc) Co matrix. Since then, several groups world- uous phase field exists between each of the c L12
wide have been developing this alloy system, in Ni3Al and Co3(Al,W) phases, such that a (Co,N-
most instances for blade alloys. The great advantage i)3(Al,W) c phase can be precipitated from a c A1
of the Co3(Al,W) system would seem to be the slow (fcc) matrix. In the Ni-free case, Yan et al.11 and
diffusion rate and low solubility of W in the matrix, Bauer et al.12 showed that additions of significant
limiting coarsening, which might enable greater amounts of Cr destabilize the c phase, and there is
endurance at higher temperatures. From a casting increasing evidence that Co - Co3(Al,W) micro-
perspective, the freezing range is reduced, as poin- structures can be metastable, decomposing to Co-
ted out by Tsunekane et al.,2 which may be of CoAl-Co3W at long aging times. Therefore, Ni
interest for very large cast industrial gas turbine additions widen the c phase field, increase the sta-
blades and guide vanes. To date, oxidation resis- bility of the c, and simultaneously allow for the
tance has proved to be a challenge, although B addition of Cr to provide oxidation resistance.
seems to have a substantial beneficial effect, as does Most of the Co superalloys presented to date2,4,12
Cr.3 have been targeted at single-crystal turbine blade
The flow stress anomaly (increasing yield applications and have compositions in the region of
strength with temperature) has been observed;4 Co-10Al-9(W + Ta) (at.%). Such high refractory
however, most of the Co superalloys presented to metal contents result in an alloy density of more
date have relatively low solvus temperatures com- than 9 g cm 3, whereas alloys for disks in particular
pared with Ni superalloys with the same volume usually have densities of<8.5 g cm 3. Therefore, in
fraction of c. In addition, the Co superalloys show the present case an additional benefit of the intro-
a positive misfit d in excess of 0.5%, where duction of Ni is that it shifts the c stoichiometry to
d = 2(ac ac)/(ac + ac). In Ni superalloys, creep higher Al contents, allowing a reduction in the
performance generally improves as the misfit de- overall alloy density, to 8.52 g cm 3 for the present
creases because the concomitant reduction in sur- alloy. For comparison, LSHR13 has a density that is
face energy reduces the driving force for 2% lower, 8.35 g cm 3.
coarsening. Retaining a fine c distribution is Meher et al. also found14 that in the Co-Co3(Al,W)
important in creep because restricting the c chan- case, significant solubility of W in the matrix re-
nel width acts to increase the bowing stress of the mained, which has the benefit of allowing for some
mobile dislocations and thereby strengthen the al- solid-solution strengthening of the matrix. In a
loy.5 In the high stress case of particle shearing similar way, the solubility for Al in Co is signifi-
below 750C, the high misfits will also give rise to cantly higher than in Ni, and so Co matrices allow
misfit strengthening, but in Ni superalloys, the for density reduction by permitting a greater Al
main strengthening effect in the case of cutting is content than would otherwise be the case.
from the antiphase boundary energy associated Therefore, the use of a 1:1 Co/Ni ratio in the
with the requirement to pass the fcc dislocations present alloy represents a balance that aims to fulfil
through the precipitate in pairs or even dislocation the demand for corrosion resistance, density and
ribbons.68 matrix strength simultaneously, while retaining the
As previously mentioned, the deleterious effects benefit of having a high refractory metal content in
of high misfit will be mitigated by the low diffu- the c phase, which is the fundamental attraction of
sivity of W in the c. This also has the side effect of Co-base c/c superalloys over Ni-base superalloys.
requiring long aging times in many academic The alloy powder was manufactured by vacuum
studies to produce c precipitates that are large induction melting and inert gas atomization, and
enough to image satisfactorily. In industrial then consolidated by hot isostatic pressing (HIP) by
practice, it would be desirable to avoid such ATI Powder Metals (Pittsburgh, PA). It was then
expensive heat treatments, and to retain a fine c isothermally forged by ATI Ladish Forging (Cud-
distribution. ahy, WI). After forging, the material was subjected
Over the last several years, we have been to a heat treatment of 1050C for 30 min, above the
exploring whether viable polycrystalline Co-base solvus temperature of 1000C.
superalloys can be produced, with improved oxida-
tion resistance and mechanical performance com-
Alloy Microstructure
pared with conventional Ni superalloys. The current
contribution provides a snapshot of the current The gas atomized powder is shown in Fig. 1; the
status of this work, using the example of a single sample examined is from the oversized and under-
alloy, V208C, that was subject to patent protection sized powder that was retained for examination.
in 2013. Small satellite powder particles can be observed on
New Polycrystalline Co-Ni Superalloy 2497

Table I. Measured composition (ICP-OES, Incotest, Hereford, UK) of the alloy V208C

Co Ni Cr Al W Ta C B Zr
wt.% 35.9 33.9 13.0 4.78 9.3 3.0 0.03 0.04 0.07
at.% 36.1 34.2 14.8 10.5 3.0 1.0 0.15 0.20 0.04

Fig. 1. The as-sprayed oversized and undersized gas atomized

powder, observed using backscatter electron imaging.

the larger particles, and solidification segregation

can be observed in backscatter electron imaging (Z-
contrast). The very fine dendrite arm spacing pro-
vides an indication of the high solidification rates
that occur during powder processing, which act to
minimize, but not completely eliminate, such mi-
crosegregation. During properly designed HIP cy-
cles, homogenization of this microsegregation occurs
such that a homogenous, low-grain-size alloy prod-
uct is obtained.
The option of forging from the as-HIP condition
breaks up networks of high oxygen, oxy-carbide
prior particle boundaries (PPBs) by introducing
high levels of deformation to cause recrystallization. Fig. 2. As-HIP, forged, and heat-treated microstructure of the alloy
Otherwise, these can give rise to poor tensile, creep, produced: (a) observed in backscatter electron imaging to highlight
and fatigue performance. The microstructure pro- secondary phases such as carbides and (b) etched secondary
duced is provided in Fig. 2. The small submicron electron image to highlight the c distribution.
precipitates observed in backscatter images are ex-
pected to be carbides. The etched secondary electron
image provides an improved view of the c structure. which is comparable with that typically obtained for
The secondary c observed have a volume fraction of extruded powder metallurgy Ni superalloys.
56% and an average diameter of 88 nm. Slow cooling from heat treatment temperatures
The grain structure has also been observed by just above or below the solvus is often applied to
electron backscatter diffraction (Fig. 3), showing an produce serrated grain boundaries in high-temper-
average grain size of 2.5 lm and a mild forging ature Ni superalloys.15 The concept is that grain
texture; as the sample has recrystallized, the tex- boundary serrations are supposed to inhibit grain
ture is still quite mild (<2.59 random). The grain boundary sliding in high-temperature creep condi-
size distribution was obtained by fitting a Weibull tions, in a similar way to M23C6 carbides. In the
distribution to the cumulative distribution function, current case of V208C, serrated grain boundary
giving a (number) average grain size of 2.5 lm, microstructures can also be achieved (Fig. 4).
2498 Knop, Mulvey, Ismail, Radecka, Rahman, Lindley, Shollock, Hardy, Moody, Martin, Bagot, and Dye


(No.) normalised probability density (-)

Fig. 5. Effect of 850C heat treatment on the as-forged c micro-

structure; a reduction in the secondary c fraction is observed,
against a background of 10-nm tertiary c that formed on low-
temperature aging heat treatment (etched secondary electron

Very frequently, prior to service a lower temper-

ature heat treatment will be applied, in part to relax
away residual stresses and also to stabilize the ini-
tial c distribution. The effect of such a heat treat-
ment is shown in Fig. 5. It can be observed that the
secondary c fraction is reduced, replaced with fine
scale tertiary c.
Grain size (m)
Fig. 3. Inverse pole figure, colored, overlaid with band contrast, Phase Metallurgy
electron backscatter diffraction image of the microstructure, together
with the grain size distribution obtained (0.5 lm step size, 3.6 9 105 Atom probe tomography experiments were per-
points, 785 grains) (Color figure online). formed on samples in the forged condition (Fig. 6).
Specimens were prepared using an FEI Helios
NanoLab 600 DualBeam system equipped with an
Omniprobe (FEI Company, Hillsboro, OR). A de-
tailed description of the liftout and tip-sharpening
procedure can be found elsewhere.1618 All atom
probe experiments were performed in the laser
mode using a LEAP 3000X HR at the Department of
Materials, University of Oxford at a temperature of
50 K and pulse energy of 0.3 nJ. A total of 34 9 106
ions were detected and reconstructed using the
IVAS software (Cameca, Gennevilliers, France)
with a 13 at.% Cr isosurface to define the precipi-
tates observed. These allowed the average compo-
sition of the secondary c precipitates to be
determined. For the matrix, a manually selected
subset of 12 9 106 ions was used, and the composi-
tion of both secondary c and the matrix are shown
in Table II. Composition profiles were generated
using the proxigram approach19 (Fig. 7). Comparing
these measured compositions with the alloy, they
are generally consistent with a c volume fraction of
4555%, which is similar to that measured by
Fig. 4. Example of a serrated grain boundary producing by slow
cooling from super-solvus heat treatment (etched secondary electron Previously, Meher et al.14,20 have performed
imaging, running top-to-bottom). measurements for Co-9Al-10W-2Ta (at.%), and
New Polycrystalline Co-Ni Superalloy 2499

50 Co


Composition (at.%)

-4 -2 0 2 4
Distance (nm)
Fig. 7. Composition profile across the c/c interface derived using the
proxigram approach, for the secondary c. An interface width in ex-
Fig. 6. (a) Atom probe tomogram of the V208C needle, with the cess of 1 nm can be observed.
13 at.% Cr isosurface highlighted to illustrate the c precipitates. The
arrow shows the interface examined in (b), illustrating the {100}
atomic planes.

carbide-strengthened Co superalloys, such as

Haynes 188, and Ni disk alloys, the c matrix will
Hwang et al. have performed measurements in the
often contain >25 at.% Cr. What is different in the
conventional Ni-base powder metallurgy polycrys-
current case is that around 5% Cr exists in the c,
talline alloy Rene 88DT (56Ni-13Co-18Cr-4.5Al-
compared with only 2 at.% in Rene 88DT, which
implies that Co-Ni superalloys should be able to
at.%).21,22 These provide a comparison for cases
tolerate higher levels of Cr at a given c content than
closer to end-member Co- and Ni-base superalloys to
conventional high temperature Ni alloys, and hence
compare with the 1:1 Co:Ni ratio employed here.
possess better oxidation resistance (below the point
Partitioning of Co to the c phase is observed, and
at which chromia volatilizes, >1000C).
an approximate 2:1 ratio between Co and Ni was
found in both the c and c phases. This means that
Mechanical Behavior
the Co/Ni site in the c is approximately two-thirds
Ni. Correspondingly, the W content in the c is re- The flow stress (ry,0.2) dependence with tempera-
duced from 12% found in Co-Al-W, as is the matrix ture of V208C was measured in isothermal com-
solubility for W ( 5% in Co-Al-W), because of the pression, in the forged and heat treated (1050C for
lower W contents used in the alloy overall. 30 min), serrated grain boundary condition (Fig. 8).
In Co-Al-W alloys, the Al content in the matrix A room-temperature (RT) flow stress of 920 MPa
and precipitate are found to be very similar, at was obtained with 820 MPa at 800C. The flow
approximately 1012% (k = 1.1), whereas Al parti- stress anomaly was also observed. It should be re-
tions to the c much more strongly in Ni superalloys, called that the flow stress anomaly is attributed to
k  8. In the current case, intermediate behavior is the cross-slip of dislocations from the octahedral to
observed, k = 3.5, which is consistent with the the cube plane, causing the formation of Kear
observations of Shinagawa et al.,10 as are the re- Wilsdorf locks and that this phenomenon breaks
sults for the dependence of Co partitioning on Ni down when thermally activated slip on the cube
content. Ta strongly partitions to the c and is a very plane becomes preferred (for a fuller discussion, see,
strong c former, as in the Co-Al-W situation. e.g., Ref. 22). Compared with the alloys reported by
It is striking that Cr is a very strong c former, Suzuki and Pollock,23 the strengths obtained here
k = 0.2, although the effect is less pronounced than are significantly greater and are similar to those
in Ni superalloys, where k < 0.1. Here, it should be found for a high c directionally solidified Ni blade
recalled that in both conventional solid solution, alloy such as Mar M247 (although in both those

Table II. Atom probe tomography measurements of the compositions of the secondary c (identified using a
13.5 at.% Cr isosurface) and of the matrix excluding the tertiary c, in at.%, together with the inferred
partition coefficients k (2 s.f.)

Co Ni Cr Al W Ta
Secondary c 25.2 48.5 4.7 16.6 3.3 1.7
Matrix c 44.8 23.8 24.6 4.7 2.0 0.1
k = Cc/Cc 0.56 2.0 0.19 3.5 1.7 17
2500 Knop, Mulvey, Ismail, Radecka, Rahman, Lindley, Shollock, Hardy, Moody, Martin, Bagot, and Dye
y,0.2 (MPa)

Fig. 8. Flow stress behavior with temperature, measured using

isothermal compression testing at a strain rate of 1 9 10 3 s 3, Fig. 9. Oxide scale formed on the surface of V208C after 400 h
compared with data from Suzuki and Pollock23 (Color figure online). oxidation in laboratory air at 800C (secondary electron imaging).

cases the alloys concerned lack grain size 7W-10Cr (at.%), which showed an areal mass gain of
strengthening). 2.0 mg cm 2 in 100 h at 800C.
Significantly, the temperature at which the flow
stress anomaly breaks down is even higher than for DISCUSSION AND OUTLOOK
Mar M247, despite that alloys very high solvus At this stage, together with the work published by
temperature (1200C)24 compared with that of the Titus et al.,2729 Suzuki et al.,4,23,30 Shinagawa
current alloy (1000C). Therefore, it seems that et al.,10,31 and Klein et al.,3,32 the following observa-
high-Co, high-W c only begins to suffer from the tions about the prospects for the development of Co-
breakdown of KearWilsdorf locks at a higher Al-W and Co-Ni-Cr-Al-W alloys can be made. The flow
temperature than in case of Ni-Al c. This might be stress anomaly has been observed by several groups
explained by the fact that W will tend to restrict but at similar temperature to those found for Ni-base
diffusion and hence thermally activated slip. superalloys. Minimum creep rates as low as 10 8 s 1
at 900C and 310 MPa have been reported27,29 for the
Oxidation Behavior single-crystal alloy Co-29Ni-9.8Al-6.3W-2.4Ta-6.4Cr
Samples of V208C measuring 10 9 10 9 2 mm (at.%), which is similar to the performance of Rene
were subjected to isothermal oxidation in laboratory N4, a modern Ni turbine blade alloy.
air for 100 h at 800C; an areal mass gain of Oxidation performance similar to that of modern
0.08 mg cm 2 was obtained, at the limit of mea- Ni disk alloys also seems to be attainable; given that
surement accuracy for intermittent weighing. A oxidation damage is heavily implicated in low-cycle
previous alloy of ours25 containing 12 at.% Cr fatigue degradation,33,34 this must be an essential
showed a mass gain of 0.29 mg cm 2 in the same precondition for the production of fatigue-resistant
conditions. These results are encouraging relative to alloys. Because density directly impacts weight and
the value of 3 mg cm 2 obtained for Co-9Al-9W- the centrifugal loads that have to be sustained in
0.12B (at.%) by Klein et al.3 service, the high density associated with high W
The oxide scale obtained from the polycrystalline contents is detrimental, but it seems that alloys can
alloy after 400 h is shown in Fig. 9. Two distinct be produced with similar densities to current high-
crystalline oxide forms can be observed on the surface, temperature alloys for blades, static parts, and disks.
supported by SEMEDX analysis; a facetted oxide the The solvus temperatures attained remain similar,
with approximate composition 22Al-10(Co + Ni)-68O or even slightly lower, than those for competitor Ni
(at.%), and a nodular oxide with the approximate superalloys, and the freezing ranges are substantially
composition 12Al-12Cr-12(Co + Ni)-64O, which are reduced. Although both these factors have benefits for
both suspected to be spinels. Cross-sectional analysis processability, a concern would be that the amount of
in the transmission electron microscope (TEM) is c present at service temperatures may be limited
ongoing, but it seems that the oxide scale formed at compared with that observed at room temperature.
200 h had not yet reached a stage of equilibrium oxide Therefore, higher solvus temperatures are desired.
growth, with the appearance of continuous Al2O3 and This will entail adding c formers such as Al, W, Ta, Ti,
Cr2O3 layers. The appearance of such layers under- and Nb.10,11,35,36 Nevertheless, in the case of Ni su-
lying a surface spinel was observed by Yan et al.26 in peralloys, matrix strength is also a key requirement,
our previous, less oxidation-resistant, alloy Co-7Al- and this is the reason for the addition of 2.7 and
New Polycrystalline Co-Ni Superalloy 2501

3.8 wt.% Mo in LSHR and ME3, respectively.22 In 6. L. Kovarik, R.R. Unocic, Ju. Li, C. Shen, Y. Wang, and M.J.
addition, probably slightly greater room-temperature Mills, Prog. Mater Sci. 54, 839 (2009).
7. V.A. Vorontsov, L. Kovarik, M.J. Mills, and C.M.F. Rae, Acta
strength is required, at least in the case of disk alloys. Mater. 60, 4866 (2012).
In summary, although the results that we and oth- 8. C.M.F. Rae and R.C. Reed, Acta Mater. 55, 1067 (2007).
ers have obtained to date are promising in that similar 9. D. Dye, M. Knop, H.-Y. Yan, M.C. Hardy, and H.J. Stone,
properties to Ni superalloys seem to be attainable, GB patent application 1312000.1 (2013).
10. K. Shinagawa, T. Omori, J. Sato, K. Oikawa, I. Ohnuma, R.
whether superior Co- or Co-Ni superalloys will even- Kainuma, and K. Ishida, Mater. Trans. 49, 1474 (2008).
tually turn out to be attainable is unknown at this 11. H.-Y. Yan, V.A. Vorontsov, and D. Dye, Intermetallics 48, 44
time. Nevertheless, 8 years on from the first report of (2014).
the Co3(Al,W) phase, substantial progress has been 12. A. Bauer, S. Neumeier, F. Pyczak, and M. Goken, Superal-
made. It should be recalled that even if only similar loys 2012, eds. E.S. Huron, R.C. Reed, M.C. Hardy, M.J.
Mills, R.E. Montero, P.D. Portella, and J. Telesman (War-
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present alloy is only an early attempt, it seems that (2014).
27. M.S. Titus, A. Suzuki, and T.M. Pollock, Scripta Mater. 66,
it may be possible to develop Co-Ni superalloys that 574 (2012).
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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Montero, P.D. Portella and J. Telesman (Warrendale, PA:
The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society; Hoboken, NJ:
The authors would like to acknowledge the John Wiley & Sons, 2012), pp. 823832.
financial support provided by Rolls-Royce plc, 29. Y.M. Eggeler, M.S. Titus, A. Suzuki, and T.M. Pollock, Acta
Imperial College London, and EPSRC (U.K.) Grant Mater. 77, 352 (2014).
EP/H022309/1. Useful conversations with Drs Vas- 30. T.M. Pollock, J. Dibbern, M. Tsunekane, and A. Suzuki,
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