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LEON M. CHENG, E. BRUCE HAWBOLT, and T. RAY MEADOWCROFT

A theoretically based model was developed by using numerical integration methods on a multiparticle

system to predict the dissolution and growth kinetics of nitrides and carbides in steels undergoing

heat treatment. This model takes fully into account the equilibrium thermodynamic properties of the

systems, the local equilibrium at the interface, curvature effects, and diffusion along the grain boundary.

Dissolution and coarsening are being treated as one continuous, simultaneous process. In the present

work, the model is applied to study the dissolution and coarsening behavior of aluminum nitride

(AlN) in Al-killed low-carbon steels. Theoretically predicted particle-size distributions are in good

agreement with the experimental measurements.

I. INTRODUCTION

growth during thermomechanical processing of microalloyed steels, the precipitation of nitrides, carbides, or carbonitrides of microalloying elements such as niobium,

vanadium, titanium, or aluminum can have significant effects

on the mechanical properties of steels. Numerous studies

have been conducted to deal with the effects of these nitrides

or carbides on microstructure formation and the associated

mechanical properties of steels.[15] The size distribution of

nitride or carbide precipitates is an important microstructural

parameter in determining the mechanical properties of

microalloyed steels after a variety of thermomechanical processing treatments.

During reheating of the steels, the preexisting precipitates

may dissolve due to increasing solubility. In addition, there

is a tendency for the smaller particles to shrink and the

larger ones to grow. This process is known as coarsening

or Ostwald ripening and is driven by the minimization of

the total surface free energy of the system. Although models

have been developed for these two phenomena, they are often

modeled as two separate processes.[69] In reality, dissolution

and coarsening usually overlap and occur simultaneously.

In such a case, neither conventional dissolution nor Ostwald

ripening models can be applied.

In the present work, a theoretical model is proposed to

predict the dissolution, growth, and coarsening behavior of

nitrides or carbides in low-carbon and microalloyed steels

by using numerical integration methods on a multiparticle

system. Dissolution and coarsening are treated as one continuous, simultaneous phenomenon, and the two processes are

simulated in a natural sequence. This model takes into

account the equilibrium thermodynamic properties of the

system, the local equilibrium at the interface, curvature

effects, and diffusion along grain boundaries. The size of

a particular particle can be determined by simultaneously

solving a set of diffusion, equilibrium, and mass-balance

LEON M. CHENG, Postdoctoral Fellow, E. BRUCE HAWBOLT and

T. RAY MEADOWCROFT, Professors, are with the Department of Metals

and Materials Engineering, University of British Columbia, Vancouver,

BC, Canada V6T 1Z4.

Manuscript submitted December 7, 1999.

METALLURGICAL AND MATERIALS TRANSACTIONS A

to study the dissolution and coarsening behavior of aluminum nitride (AlN) in Al-killed low-carbon steels. The predicted results are then compared to experimental

measurements made on the same system.

II. THEORETICAL MODEL

A list of symbols being used in the present model is shown

in Table I.

Based on the measured mean diameter and the standard

deviation of the initial distribution, an assembly of n particles

can be defined according to a presumed particle-size distribution. The form of the initial size distribution depends on

the initial experimental conditions. However, in most cases,

the distribution of nitrides or carbides in steels can be well

represented by either a normal distribution or a log-normal

distribution. For a normal distribution, the density function

can be written as

rn 5

1

(a 2 r)2

exp 2

2s2n

!2psn

[1]

where rn is the probability density of a normal particlesize distribution, a is an individual particle radius, r is the

arithmetic mean radius of the distribution, and sn is the

standard deviation. For a log-normal distribution, the density

function is

rl 5

1

(ln a 2 m)2

exp 2

2s2l

!2psla

[2]

where rl is the probability density of a log-normal particlesize distribution, m is the arithmetic mean of the distribution

of ln (a), and sl is the standard deviation of the normal

distribution of ln (a).

A. Precipitates in Matrix

For both dissolution and growth, the diffusion-controlled

transformation of a particle in a matrix requires the solution

of Ficks second law,

D2C 5

C

t

[3]

a

ap , a

C

Cb

C`e

CI

CP , CM

d0

D

Db

f

K`, KI

NA

NS

r

R

VP

X P, X M

Zl

ZS

d

g

sn

mp , m

np , n

rl

rn

DE

DH

radius of particle

lattice parameters of precipitate and

matrix, respectively

concentration field

solute concentration within grain boundary

equilibrium solute concentration at planar

interface

solute concentration in the matrix at the

interface

solute concentration in precipitate and in

matrix, respectively

mean grain diameter

bulk matrix diffusivity

grain boundary diffusivity

volume fraction of precipitate

solubility product for planar and nonplanar

precipitate/matrix interface,

respectively

Avogadros number

atoms/unit area of surface

arithmetic mean radius of the particle

size distribution

gas constant

molar volume of precipitate

concentration of precipitate forming element in precipitate and matrix,

respectively

lattice coordination number

bonds per atom across the interface

grain boundary thickness

precipitate/matrix interfacial energy

standard deviation of the particle size

distribution

shear moduli of precipitate and matrix,

respectively

Poissons ratio of precipitate and matrix,

respectively

probability density of a log-normal size

distribution

probability density of a normal particle

size distribution

heat of solution of precipitate

heat of formation of precipitate

(a) a dissolving precipitate and (b) a growing precipitate.

interdiffusion coefficient in the matrix, and C 5 C(r, t) is the

concentration field in the matrix surrounding the precipitate.

For an MX-type precipitate in an Fe-M-X ternary system,

where M is the substitutional alloy element (e.g., Nb, V, Al,

etc.) and X is the interstitial element (e.g., C and N), the

diffusivity of the interstitial elements is usually several

orders of magnitude higher than that of the substitutional

elements. It is reasonable to assume that the kinetics of the

particle dissolution and/or coarsening process is controlled

by the lower diffusion rate of the substitutional alloying

element, and the concentration gradient of the interstitial

element in the matrix can be ignored. For simplicity, all

precipitates are assumed to be spherical and to remain so

during dissolution/growth. For such a spherically symmetrical system, Eq. [3] becomes

D

1 r

2 C

2

2 C

C

5

r r

t

[4]

assumed to be uniformly distributed in the matrix. For mathematical simplicity, each particle can be considered to be at

the center of a spherical cell with a radius of l, where 2l is

the initial average interparticle distance. Let a be the radius

of a particle within the spherical cell. If l .. a, then, within

a short period of time, the solute concentration at the cell

wall (CM) can be approximated as a constant, although it

changes slowly with time. Under this situation, the boundary

conditions for Eq. [4] become

C 5 CI when r 5 a

[5a]

C 5 CM when r 5 l (l .. a)

[5b]

and

these conditions are shown in Figure 1, where CP is the

solute concentration in the precipitate and CI is the solute

concentration in the matrix at the particle/matrix interface.

If CI and CM are assumed to be constants, then the concentration profile can be determined by following the stationary

interface (invariant size) approximation[10] developed by

Whelan. In this approach, the diffusion field around a precipitate with radius of a is assumed to be the same as that

which would exist if the precipitate/matrix interface had

been fixed at a from the start, i.e., by restricting the diffusion

field to have no memory of the past motion of the interface.

Thus, if CI and CM are assumed to be constants, then Eq.

METALLURGICAL AND MATERIALS TRANSACTIONS A

$ a:

a

r2a

C 2 CM 5 (CI 2 CM) erfc

r

2!Dt

[6]

defined as

erfc (x) 5

2

!p

exp (2t2)dt

[7]

flux of solute at the interface is equal to the rate of loss (or

gain) of solute in the precipitate. Thus, for a spherical particle, the condition of flux balance at the interface can be

written as

24pa2(CP 2 CI) da 5 24pa2D

C

? dt

r r5a

[8]

velocity) of the precipitate/matrix interface (v) as

v5

da

C

D

?

5

dt

CP 2 CI r r5a

[9]

from Eq. [9] as

1/2

1 1 22

[10]

CI 2 CM

CP 2 CI

[11]

da

D

D

5 2k ?

1

dt

a

pt

with

k5

In Eq. [10], the term in t21/2 arises from the transient part

of the diffusion field. For a steady state, Eq. [10] becomes

12

da

D

5 2k ?

dt

a

[12]

infinite matrix, where both CI and CM do not vary with

time. However, under local equilibrium conditions at the

precipitate/matrix interface, the GibbsThompson equation

shows that the equilibrium composition in the matrix at the

curved precipitate/matrix interface, CI , varies with precipitate radius, a, as[11]

2gVp

CI 5 Ce` ? exp

RTa

1 2

[13]

molar volume of the precipitate, R is the gas constant, T is

the absolute temperature, and Ce` is the equilibrium solute

concentration at a planar interface. To take into account the

effect of curvature on dissolution and growth kinetics, Aaron

and Kotler[7] replaced the constant CI in Eq. [11] by Eq.

[13]. In the case of dissolution, the presence of the curvature

effect tends to speed up the rate of dissolution, being particularly important for small particles.

For an MX-type precipitate, the solubility product for a

nonplanar precipitate/matrix interface (KI) can be written

as[12]

METALLURGICAL AND MATERIALS TRANSACTIONS A

KI 5 [M]I[X]I 5 K` ? exp

4gVp

1 RTa 2

[14]

pct) of M and X, respectively, in the matrix at the curved

precipitate/matrix interface; and K` is the solubility product

for a planar interface. Values of K` can be derived from

experimental data or calculated from thermodynamic data.

Moreover, the volume fraction of precipitates such as

AlN, NbC, etc. in industrial-grade microalloying steels is

usually very low (typically on the order of 1024 to 1023),

and the diffusion fields surrounding the precipitates would

not seriously overlap. However, the average solute concentration in the matrix will still vary with time due to the

dissolution or growth of the precipitates. In the case of

dissolution, the increase of solute concentration in the matrix

tends to slow down the rate of dissolution. As the solute

concentration increases and reaches the equilibrium value,

then the total volume fraction of the precipitates will remain

constant. On the other hand, in the case of a growing precipitate, the decrease of solute concentration in the matrix tends

to slow the growth rate. If the solute concentration in the

matrix is fixed, the particles will never stop shrinking (or

growing), which does not agree with reality.

Therefore, in an attempt to take into account the variation

of average solute concentration in the matrix and its effect

on the rate of dissolution and growth, CM in Eq. [11] is

replaced by the average solute concentration in the matrix.

Although, strictly speaking, Eq. [10] is only valid when k

is a constant (i.e, CP , CI , and CM are all constants), it is

reasonable to believe that[7,12] within a very short period of

time, Eq. [10] can still be a good approximation for the rate

of dissolution (or growth) for the case where both CI and

CM change only slowly with time. During the calculation,

both CI and CM are updated after each infinitesimal increment

of time. For the system considered in this study, the variation

of the average solute concentration in the matrix is small

compared to the change in CI due to the curvature effect at

the precipitate/matrix interface.

If there is no new precipitate formed during dissolution

or coarsening, the volume fraction of precipitates at time (t) is

n

f(t) 5 f0 ?

1 2

o Vi (t)

i51

n

o Vi0

[15]

i51

and Vi0 are the volumes of particle i at time 5 t and 0,

respectively. During the calculation, CM(t) is approximated

by the average solute concentration in the matrix, which can

be determined from f(t) and the total solute content in the

system, i.e.,

CM(t) 5

CT 2 CPf(t)

1 2 f(t)

[16]

where CT is the total solute concentration. For a stoichiometric MX-type precipitate, CP is a constant and is equal to

1/V PM, where V PM is the partial molar volume of the substitutional alloy element in the precipitate.

It can be seen from Eq. [10] that a precipitate is dissolving

when k . 0 and growing when k , 0. Since CI is a function

of a and CM is a function of time, then k 5 k(a, t). Therefore,

VOLUME 31A, AUGUST 20001909

for the grain boundary only. Moreover, it is assumed that

the diffusion of solute along the surface of the precipitate

is sufficiently rapid that the spherical shape is maintained.

The concentration profile in the grain boundary can be

determined by examining a volume element within the

boundary,[13] such as that shown in the lower- right-hand

corner in Figure 3. Let Nr and Nr1dr be the number of atoms

per unit time entering and leaving the volume element at

the points r and r 1 dr, respectively; dNc be the amount of

solute per unit time diffusing from the boundary element to

the bulk matrix, and dNb be the change in amount of solute

in the boundary element per unit time. Conservation of solute

implies that

Nr 2 Nr1dr 2 dNc 5 dNb

[17]

Since

Fig. 2Schematic concentration fields showing the effect of particle size

on the transformation mode, i.e., dissolution or growth, of an individual

particle.

Nr 5 2Db Ac

dNb 5 dAc

Cb

r

[18]

Cb

t

[19]

dNc '

may dissolve or grow depends on its radius, as illustrated

in Figure 2. Thus, it is possible that one particle dissolves

while some other particles are growing at the same time.

Moreover, each individual particle may have a different

growth or dissolution rate. The size of each individual precipitate (ai) can be determined by integrating Eq. [10] numerically for each precipitate.

B. Precipitates on Grain Boundaries

When a particle is located on a grain boundary, both

grain-boundary and bulk diffusion can occur simultaneously.

During dissolution, solute atoms can flow from the particles

surface to the matrix or can diffuse along the grain boundary.

The solute atoms can also flow from the grain boundary to

the matrix. Similar situations also arise for a growing particle, but, instead of flowing away from the particle, the solute

atoms flow toward the particle. A dissolving particle located

on a grain boundary is shown schematically in Figure 3.

In the present model, a grain-boundary precipitate is considered to be a sphere with a thin slab of material (i.e., grain

boundary) attached along its equator,[13] as shown in Figure

3. When both grain-boundary and bulk diffusion occur, the

concentration field can be approximated as the sum of two

solutions. One solution is that without the grain boundary,

1910VOLUME 31A, AUGUST 2000

4D

(C 2 CM)dAs

d0 b

[20]

grain boundary; CM is, again, the average solute concentration in the matrix; Db is the grain-boundary diffusivity; d is

the thickness of the grain boundary; Ac and dAs are the

cross-sectional area and surface area of the volume element,

respectively; and d0 is the mean grain diameter.

If we consider a ring of grain boundary at a distance of

r from the precipitate, then

AC 5 2prd

[21]

dAs 5 2prdr

[22]

and

Using Eqs. [17] through [22] and assuming that dr/d , 1,

one can obtain

Db

1 r

2Cb

2

1 Cb

C

4D

(C 2 CM) 5 b [23]

2

r r

dd0Db b

t

constant. With the boundary conditions that

Cb 5 CM when r .. a

[24a]

Cb 5 CI when r 5 a

[24b]

and

within the grain boundary as

Cb 5

CI 2 CM

K (br) 1 CM

K0(ba) 0

[25]

where

b5

!D

4D

b dd0

[26]

p 2x

e

2x

Percent)

C

Mn

Si

Al

Cr

[27]

0.038

0.30

0.009

0.040

0.008

0.033

0.0052

values, the error in using this approximation is small (i.e.,

less than 10 pct), even when x , 1.

Considering the mass conservation of the solute over the

whole surface of the particle, the condition of solute balance

over the surface of the particle can be written as

with

K0(x) '

2 2padDb

C

r r5a

Z 2

[28]

Cb

dt

r r5a

[25] through [28] with the results from the previous section,

the growth (or dissolution) rate of the precipitates can be

approximated as

da

D dDb dDbb

Db

5 2k

1 2 1

1

dt

a

4a

2a

pt

1/2

1 22

[29]

C. Interfacial Energy

g 5 gc 1 gst

[30]

associated with a fully coherent interface, is given as

DENSZS P

(X 2 X M)2

NAZl

[31]

number of atoms per unit area of surface, Zl is the lattice

coordination number, ZS is the number of bonds per atom

across the interface, NA is the Avogadros number, and X P

and X M are the concentration (mole fraction) of the precipitate-forming element in the precipitate and matrix, respectively. The term DE can be evaluated from the respective

heat of formation (DH ), using DE 5 2DH.

The structural component, gst, in Eq. [30] is associated

with the array of interfacial dislocations which accommodate

the mismatch lattices between the two phases. It can be

estimated[16,17] as

gst 5

2pT

3(1 2 n*)

[33]

1

1

1

5 1

m* m mP

[34]

2

1

1

5 1

a* a aP

[35]

and

n* 5

1

(n 1 nP)

2

[36]

and mP are the shear moduli of the matrix and precipitate,

respectively, n and nP are the Poissons ratio of the matrix

and precipitate, respectively, and a and aP are the lattice

parameters of the matrix and precipitate, respectively.

III. APPLICATION AND DISCUSSION

from perfect matching in fully coherent interfaces, to lessperfect matching in semicoherent interfaces, and finally to

random matching in fully incoherent interfaces. The energy

of an interphase boundary depends on many parameters,

e.g., interfacial misfit, the type of atomic bonding between

and within the phases, etc. Turnbull[15] considered the interfacial energy of semicoherent interphase boundaries to consist

of two additive parts: a chemical term (gc) for the coherent

interface and an additional structural term (gst) due to the

cross-grid of edge dislocations, as follows.

gc 5

C5

m*a*

(1 1 C 2 (1 1 C2)1/2)

2p2

[32]

being applied to the dissolution and coarsening of aluminum

nitride (AlN) in both austenite (g) and ferrite (a). Experiments and calculations are carried out on a commercially

produced, drawing-quality special Al-killed steel obtained

from US Steel (Pittsburgh, PA). The chemical composition

of this steel is given in Table II.

A. Experiments

After hot rolling, the material used in the present work

was initially coiled at a coiling temperature of 650 8C. Specimens 4 3 4 3 6 mm were machined from the as-received

coil sheet. To study the dissolution and coarsening of AlN

precipitates in austenite, specimens (encapsulated in evacuated quartz capsules) were first isothermally annealed in a

furnace at temperatures between 650 8C and 750 8C for 24

hours to obtain different initial particle-size distributions.

These annealed specimens were then heat-treated at a temperature between 1000 8C and 1200 8C (either in a highpurity argon atmosphere or encapsulated in quartz capsules)

for increasing holding times and were then rapidly cooled

by water quenching.

Another set of specimens was first solution treated at 1250

8C for 30 minutes and then isothermally annealed at 700 8C

for times ranging from 1 hour to 1 week, to study the coarsening behavior of AlN precipitates in ferrite.

The characterization of the resulting AlN particle sizes

and distributions and the microanalysis of these precipitates

was then accomplished by using transmission and scanning

transmission electron microscopy examination on carbonextraction replicas of the specimens. To prepare the replicas,

specimens were first ground and then polished with diamond

VOLUME 31A, AUGUST 20001911

Ferrite, D 5 D0 exp (2Q/RT )

D0 (m2/s)

Phase

Austenite, matrix

Austenite, grain boundary

Ferrite, matrix

Ferrite, grain boundary

Q (kJ/mol) Reference

24

2.51 3 10

3 3 1024

5.31 3 1028

5.82 3 1028

253.4

167.4

196.5

143.8

20

22

21

22

along a grain boundary in austenite and ferrite are shown

in Table III. For diffusion of Al along a grain boundary,

because of the lack of experimental data, self-diffusion data

for Fe along a grain boundary are being used.[22] The equilibrium between AlN and the Fe-Al-N system can be determined by using thermodynamic data for AlN and regular

solution models of the Fe-Al and Fe-N binary systems.[2328]

Since the concentrations of both Al and N are very low,

ternary interaction parameters and the Al-N interaction

parameter are neglected during the calculation. The solubility products of AlN in austenite and ferrite are calculated

as[19]

log Kg` 5 log ((wt pct Al) (wt pct N)) 5 4.5989 2

11,568

T

[37]

and

log Ka` 5 6.1061 2

14,442

T

[38]

respectively.

For the interfacial energy of AlN in a-Fe and g-Fe, the

heat of formation of AlN can be derived from the numerical

data in Reference 29. Other data used for the calculation

are summarized[3034] in Table IV.

C. AlN in Austenite

Fig. 4Flow chart illustrating the logic of the program.

for 5 seconds and coating with a thin film (,20 nm) of

carbon, the specimens were then etched in a 5 pct Nital

solution until the replicas lifted off. Detailed descriptions of

the experimental procedures and the results are described

elsewhere.[18,19]

B. Predictions

The predictions are based on an initial 2000-particle

assembly. A flow chart for the computer program is shown

in Figure 4. During the calculation, based on the values of

a and CI for each particle, as well as CM , at time t, the new

values of all a terms at t 1 Dt can be determined using Eqs.

[10] or [29], where Dt is an infinitesimal increment of time.

The new value of CM at t 1 Dt can also be calculated from

the new volume fraction. By repeating these calculations for

each time step, the size evolution of each particle can then

be obtained.

1912VOLUME 31A, AUGUST 2000

after the steel has been soaked at 1000 8C for different

holding times, are shown in Figure 5. The initial size distribution, as shown in Figure 5(a), is obtained by annealing the

coil material at 700 8C for 24 hours. By fitting to the measured size distribution, a normal distributed particle size is

establishedusing the measured values of mean radius and

standard deviationto initiate the simulation. Comparing

the predictions to observations at t 5 1800, 3600, and 5400

seconds (Figure 5(b) through (d)), a reasonably good agreement is obtained. Although there are differences between

the measured and predicted mean size, the distributions are

very similar. Based on these size distributions, the mean

diameter of the AlN is calculated and plotted as a function

of holding time in Figure 6. It can be seen that the calculated

mean diameter of the AlN particles decreases during the

early stage of annealing and then increases.

These predictions suggest that once the specimen is rapidly heated to the test temperature, all particles start to dissolve (decrease in mean diameter) initially, due to the high

solubility and low solute concentration in the matrix (i.e.,

high k values). As the precipitates dissolve, the solute concentration in the matrix, CM , increases (i.e., the volume

METALLURGICAL AND MATERIALS TRANSACTIONS A

Table IV. Data Used for Calculation of Interfacial Energy for AlN in a-Fe and g-Fe[3034]

Parameter

g-Fe (Fcc)

AlN (Hcp)

a 5 0.3111

c 5 0.4975

a 5 0.364

1.28 3 105

Poissons ratio, n

a-Fe (Bcc)

a 5 0.2866

T 2 300

1810

2 3.2 3 10

22

\

when T . 573 K

0.25

0.29

T 2 300

1810

(T 2 573)2

2 2.4 3 1022 (T 2 923)2

\

when T . 923 K

0.29

(a)

(b)

(c)

(d )

Fig. 5Evolution of size distribution of AlN particles after soaking at 1000 8C for (a) t 5 0 s, (b) t 5 1800 s, (c) t 5 3600 s, and (d ) t 5 5400 s.

level. The predicted volume fraction of undissolved AlN

particles in the steel is shown in Figure 7. The total volume

fraction decreases very quickly during the early stage of

annealing and then stays at an almost constant level throughout the rest of the annealing. The calculated size evolution

of four selected AlN particles is shown in Figure 8. It can

be seen that, after the initial stage, the dissolution rates of

the smaller ones (particles C and D) decrease as CM increases

(lower k values). However, as the particles become very

small, the curvature effect causes the dissolution rate of

these particles to increase rapidly. While the smaller particles

are completely dissolved, the larger ones (A and B) start to

coarsen after shrinking slightly in the early stage (CI becomes

lower than CM , i.e., k changes from 1ve to 2ve). Moreover,

it can also be seen in Figure 8 that particle B, as it becomes

one of the smaller particles among the remaining particles,

METALLURGICAL AND MATERIALS TRANSACTIONS A

A keeps growing. These predicted behaviors indicate the

capability of the present model to treat dissolution and coarsening as one continuous process with no clear separation

between these two.

The size evolution of AlN at two other temperatures, 1100

8C and 1175 8C, is shown in Figure 9. Although they have

the same initial size distribution, because of the higher solubility and higher diffusivity, the mean size of AlN at 1100

8C is much larger than that at 1000 8C for the same holding

time. However, for the case of 1175 8C, the soaking temperature is sufficiently high to dissolve all AlN particles. From

Eq. [37], the equilibrium solution temperature for AlN in

this steel is determined to be about 1120 8C. Thermodynamic

properties of the system not only determine the equilibrium

condition, but also play a major role in the dissolution or

growth rate.

VOLUME 31A, AUGUST 20001913

(a)

1000 8C.

(b)

(a)

Fig. 6(a) Variation of mean diameter with reheating time at 1000 8C.

(b) Calculated mean diameter for the first 1000 s at 1000 8C.

(b)

Fig. 9Variation of mean diameter of AlN particles with reheating time

at (a) 1100 8C and (b) 1175 8C, after an initial 24 h annealing at 700 8C.

Fig. 7Variation of AlN volume fraction with reheating time at 1000 8C

(after 24 h at 700 8C).

also studied with a different initial size distribution. In these

tests, specimens were first solution treated at 1250 8C for

30 minutes and then quenched to and held at 650 8C for

24 hours to obtain the initial distribution. In this case, the

measured initial size distribution is best fitted by a lognormal distribution for the simulation. Figure 10 shows the

variation of mean particle size with reheating time. The size

distribution of AlN particles for different times at the soaking

temperature is shown in Figure 11. Although the mean sizes

are different (due to a different initial size), the curve shown

1914VOLUME 31A, AUGUST 2000

(after initial annealing for 24 h at 650 8C).

METALLURGICAL AND MATERIALS TRANSACTIONS A

(a)

(b)

at 700 8C.

of the specimens indicate that there is no significant difference in the ferrite grain size throughout the test, possibly

due to the pinning effect of the AlN precipitates. Therefore,

during the calculation, the average ferrite grain size is taken

to be constant (d0 ' 10 mm), and the precipitates are considered to be stationary along the grain boundaries (i.e., precipitates remain on the grain boundaries throughout the

annealing). The size evolution and distribution of AlN precipitates are shown in Figures 12 and 13, respectively.

In the present model, it is assumed that no new nucleation

occurs during the annealing. For this test condition, it has

been determined[19] that precipitation should be completed

within about 30 minutes. Thus, a log-normal size distribution

is established from the measured size distribution of AlN

precipitates after 1 hour at 700 8C (Figure 13(a)) to initiate

the simulation.

As shown in Figure 12, the coarsening of AlN particles

is rapid during the early stage of annealing and slows at

longer times. Moreover, unlike the previous cases, there is

no initial decrease of the mean diameter at early annealing

times. This indicates that the growth mechanism is dominated by coarsening throughout the whole period.

IV. SUMMARY

(c)

Fig. 11Evolution of the size distribution of AlN particles (initially

annealed for 24 h at 650 8C) after soaking at 1000 8C for (a) t 5 0 s, (b)

t 5 3600 s, and (c) t 5 7200 s.

curves exhibit an initial drop in mean size followed by an

increase of the mean size (i.e., shifting from a dissolutiondominated to coarsening-dominated process).

D. AlN in Ferrite

The capability of the present model to simulate the size

evolution of second-phase particles along grain boundaries

is demonstrated by the study of the coarsening of AlN precipitates along ferrite grain boundaries during annealing of the

steel at 700 8C. Specimens were first solution treated at 1250

8C for 30 minutes and then quenched to and held at 700 8C

METALLURGICAL AND MATERIALS TRANSACTIONS A

dissolution and coarsening behavior and to simulate the sizedistribution evolution of nitrides or carbides in microalloyed

steels. In this model, dissolution and coarsening are being

treated as one continuous, simultaneous process. A set of

diffusion, equilibrium, and mass-balance equations are

solved simultaneously for each individual particle. In the

case of precipitates on grain boundaries, the effect of grainboundary diffusivity is also considered.

Calculations and experiments are carried out for AlN dissolution and coarsening in both austenite and ferrite. Various

initial size distributions and reheating temperatures are used

in the tests. The predictions and the measurements are in

good agreement. These results lend support to several aspects

of the model and to the assumptions incorporated in the

model. However, to improve and to generalize the current

model, further studies on the effects of actual spatial distribution of the precipitates and the influence of the overlapping

diffusion fields are necessary.

VOLUME 31A, AUGUST 20001915

REFERENCES

(a)

(b)

(c)

Fig. 13Evolution of the size distribution of AlN particles after soaking

at 700 8C for (a) t 5 1 h, (b) t 5 20 h, and (c) t 5 164 h.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The authors acknowledge with gratitude the financial support received from the Natural Sciences and Engineering

Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

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