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J. Mater. Sci. Technol.  2020, Vol. 49 Issue (0): 70-80    DOI: 10.1016/j.jmst.2020.01.051
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Kinetic transitions and Mn partitioning during austenite growth from a mixture of partitioned cementite and ferrite: Role of heating rate
Geng Liua, Zongbiao Daia, Zhigang Yanga, Chi Zhanga, Jun Lib, Hao Chena,*()
a Key Laboratory for Advanced Materials of Ministry of Education, School of Materials Science and Engineering, Tsinghua University, Beijing, 100084, China
b Research Institute of Baoshan Iron and Steel Co., Ltd, Shanghai, 201900, China
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Austenite formation from a ferrite-cementite mixture is a crucial step during the processing of advanced high strength steels (AHSS). The ferrite-cementite mixture is usually inhomogeneous in both structure and composition, which makes the mechanism of austenite formation very complex. In this contribution, austenite formation upon continuous heating from a designed spheroidized cementite structure in a model Fe-C-Mn alloy was investigated with an emphasis on the role of heating rate in kinetic transitions and element partitioning during austenite formation. Based on partition/non-partition local equilibrium (PLE/NPLE) assumption, austenite growth was found alternately contribute by PLE, NPLE and PLE controlled interfaces migration during slow-heating, while NPLE mode predominately controlled the austenitization by a synchronous dissolution of ferrite and cementite upon fast-heating. It was both experimentally and theoretically found that there is a long-distance diffusion of Mn within austenite of the slow-heated sample, while a sharp Mn gradient was retained within austenite of the fast-heated sample. Such a strong heterogeneous distribution of Mn within austenite cause a large difference in driving force for ferrite or martensite formation during subsequent cooling process, which could lead to various final microstructures. The current study indicates that fast-heating could lead to unique microstructures which could hardly be obtained via the conventional annealing process.

Key words:  Cementite      Austenite      Kinetics      Elements partitioning      Fast heating     
Received:  26 November 2019     
Corresponding Authors:  Hao Chen     E-mail:  hao.

Cite this article: 

Geng Liu, Zongbiao Dai, Zhigang Yang, Chi Zhang, Jun Li, Hao Chen. Kinetic transitions and Mn partitioning during austenite growth from a mixture of partitioned cementite and ferrite: Role of heating rate. J. Mater. Sci. Technol., 2020, 49(0): 70-80.

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Fig. 1.  Sketch of pre-treatment process of the test sample.
Fig. 2.  Initial microstructures before austenitization: (a) Image quality maps with phase maps marking cementite in yellow; (b) orientation map; (c) SEM image showing the microstructure of one cementite particle in ferrite matrix; (d) Mn profile along the scanning line in Fig. 2(c); (e) Statistics of Mn content in cementite and its surrounding ferrite at a 20 × 20 um2 square in a SEM image.
Fig. 3.  Relative length changes of the specimens as a function of temperature: (a) continuous heating at 0.1 °C/s and 100 °C/s to fully austenitizing temperature; (b)continuous heating at 0.1 °C/s and quenched from 775 °C and 797 °C; (c) (b)continuous heating at 100 °C/s and quenched from 827 °C, 837 °C and 857 °C.
Fig. 4.  (a) Micrograph of the slow-heated sample quenched from 775 °C; (b) SEM image showing the diffusion field across one cementite particle; (c) Image quality map with phase maps marking retained austenite (RA) and cementite; (d) Crystal orientation imaging maps; (e)C and Mn profiles along the line in Fig. 4(b); (f) SEM image at higher voltage mode showing the distinguished contrast in the surrounding ferrite.
Fig. 5.  (a) Micrograph of the fast-heated sample quenched from 827 °C; (b) SEM image showing the diffusion field across one cementite particle; (c) Image quality maps with phase maps marking RA and cementite; (d) Crystal orientation imaging maps; (e)C and Mn profiles along the line in Fig. 5(b).
Fig. 6.  (a) Image quality map of multi-diffusion field with phase maps marking RA and cementite microstructure of fast-heated sample quenched at 827 °C; (b) Crystal orientation imaging map; (c) Mn profiles across the RA regions along the scanning line in Fig. 6(b).
Fig. 7.  (a-d) Image quality map with phase maps marking RA in green; (e-h) orientation maps of the corresponding region in which RA are highlighted in dark circle; (i-k) SEM pictures of single RA covered with the Mn profile.
Fig. 8.  Schematic isothermal sections of Fe-C-Mn phase diagrams to indicate the austenite growth under local equilibrium condition: (a) Mn diffusion-controlled austenite growth, e.g. Partitioning Local Equilibrium (PLE) (b) C diffusion-controlled austenite growth, e.g. Negligible Partitioning Local Equilibrium (NPLE) (PNTT: Partition to Non-partition Transition Temperature).
Fig. 9.  (a) Comparison between the kinetics of austenite formation upon heating simulated by DICTRA and measured by dilatation; (b) The γ/α and γ/θ interface position as a function of temperature upon heating with 0.1 °C/s and 100 °C/s.
Fig. 10.  (a, b) Evolution of C and Mn profiles during continuous heating at 0.1 °C /s; (c, d) Evolution of C and Mn profiles during continuous heating at 100 °C /s.
Fig. 11.  The predicted γ/α and γ/θ interface position as a function of temperature during heating and cooling and the corresponding elements distribution: (a-c) the slow-heated case, (d-f) the fast-heated case.
Fig. 12.  A sketch of the evolution of microstructure and Mn distribution during the thermal cycles.
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