Cast duplex stainless steels (CSS) used for PWR pipes are degraded due to thermal ageing embrittlement during long-term service at 288 °C to 327 °C. Z3CN20-09M Cast duplex Stainless Steels (CSS) made in France for domestic nuclear power plants were thermally aged at 400 °C for 100 h, 300 h, 1000 h, 3000 h and 10000 h. The tensile properties and the impact properties at different thermal aging duration were measured and the effects of the thermal aging time on the microscopic structures and substructures of Z3CN20-09M were respectively investigated by optical microscopy and transmission electron microscopy. The results showed that the tensile strengths of Z3CN20-09M CSS increased gradually with the increment of the thermal ageing time, whereas the impact properties decreased with the prolonging of the thermal ageing time. After long thermal ageing time the dislocation configurations were greatly changed in austenite, and there were precipitates along the austenite-ferrite interface. Moreover, the iron-rich α phase and the chromium-rich α phase precipitated in ferrite aged for 10000h by nucleation and growth rather than the spinodal decomposition. All of above revealed that Z3CN20-09M CSS became brittle during thermal ageing.

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