The Effect of Heating Rate on Subsurface AlN Formation in Fe-Al Alloys in N2-O2 Atmospheres

June Bott, Hongbin Yin, Seetharaman Sridhar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


When high Al containing Fe alloys such as TRIP steels are exposed to atmospheres that contain N2 during re-heating, sub-surface nitrides form and these can be detrimental to mechanical properties. Nitride precipitation can be controlled by minimizing the access of the gaseous atmosphere to the metal surface, which can be achieved by a rapid growth of a continuous and adherent surface scale. This investigation utilizes a Au-image furnace attached to a confocal scanning microscope to simulate the annealing temperature vs time while Fe-Al alloys (with Al contents varying from 1 to 8 wt pct) are exposed to a O2-N2 atm with 10−6atm O2. The heating times of 1, 10, and 100 minutes to the isothermal temperature of 1558 K (1285 °C) were used. It was found that fewer sub-surface nitride precipitates formed when the heating time was lowered and when Al content in the samples was increased. In the 8 wt pct samples, no internal nitride precipitates were present regardless of heating time. In the 3 and 5 wt pct samples, internal nitride precipitates were nearly more or less absent at heating times less than 10 minutes. The decrease in internal precipitates was governed by the evolving structure of the external oxide-scale. At low heating rates and/or low Al contents, significant Fe-oxide patches formed and these appeared to allow for ingress of gaseous N2. For the slow heating rates, ingress could have happened during the longer time spent in lower temperatures where non-protective alumina was present. As Al content in the alloy was increased, the external scale was Al2O3 and/or FeAl2O4 and more continuous and consequently hindered the N2 from accessing the metal surface. Increasing the Al content in the alloy had the effect of promoting the outward diffusion of Al in the alloy and thereby assisting the formation of the continuous external layer of Al2O3 and/or FeAl2O4.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2222-2231
Number of pages10
JournalMetallurgical and Materials Transactions B: Process Metallurgy and Materials Processing Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Metals and Alloys
  • Materials Chemistry


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