The use of single crystal (SX) nickel-base superalloys will increase in the future with the introduction of SX blades into large gas turbines for base-load electricity production. Prolonged periods of use at high temperatures may cause creep deformation and the assessment of damage can give large financial savings. A number of techniques can be applied for life assessment, e.g., calculations based on operational data, nondestructive testing or material interrogation, but because of the uncertainties involved the techniques are often used in combination. This paper describes a material interrogation (metallographic) technique for creep strain assessment in SX alloys. Creep tests have been performed at 950°C on the SX alloy CMSX-4 and quantitative microstructural studies performed on specimens interrupted at various levels of strain. It was found that the strengthening γ′-particles, initially cuboidal in shape, coalesced to form large plates or rafts normal to the applied stress. The γ-matrix phase also formed plates. CMSX-4 contains ∼70 vol % γ-particles and after creep deformation the microstructure turned itself inside out, i.e., the gamma “matrix” became the isolated phase surrounded by the γ′-“particles.” This can cause problems for computerized image analysis, which in this case, were overcome with the choice of a suitable measurement parameter. The rafts reached their maximum length before 2 percent strain, but continued to thicken with increasing strain. Although of different dimensions, the aspect ratios (length/thickness ratio) of the gamma-prime rafts and the gamma plates were similar at similar levels of strain, increasing from ∼1 at zero strain to a maximum of ∼ 3 at about 1–2 percent strain. Analysis of microstructural measurements from rafting studies on SX alloys presented in the literature showed that the aspect ratios of the γ and γ′-phases were similar and that at a temperature of 950–1000°C a maximum length/thickness ratio of about 2.5–3.5 is reached at 1 to 2 percent creep strain. Measurement of gamma-prime raft or (or gamma plate) dimensions on longitudinal sections of blades is thus a suitable method for high temperature creep damage assessment of SX alloys. This gives a considerable advantage over conventional Ni-base superalloys whose microstructures are usually very stable with respect to increasing creep strain.
A Metallographic Technique for High Temperature Creep Damage Assessment in Single Crystal Alloys
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Henderson, P., and Komenda, J. (October 1, 1999). "A Metallographic Technique for High Temperature Creep Damage Assessment in Single Crystal Alloys." ASME. J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. October 1999; 121(4): 683–686. https://doi.org/10.1115/1.2818526
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