Pipeline girth welds deposited with a self-shielded flux cored electrode process (FCAW-S) have been characterized to assess the effect of micro-alloying elements on microstructure and precipitate evolution and correlate it to strength and toughness. A 2.0 mm diameter electrode was used to deposit weld metal in a 12.7 mm thick API grade X-70 pipe joint. The weld metal properties were characterized and shown to overmatch the pipe. The DBTT of the weld metal has been determined through Charpy V-Notch toughness measurements. The effect of heat input and welding procedure has been assessed over a range of heat inputs (1–1.5 kJ/mm.). The effect of dilution from the base plate on toughness has been assessed by measuring the sensitivity of weld metal toughness to changes in carbon content. The as-welded region of the weld has been characterized using different characterization techniques. Ferritic weld metal deposited with a self-shielded arc welding process has intentional additions of aluminum, magnesium, titanium and zirconium. This results in a complex precipitation process that has been characterized with a combination of electron microscopy techniques. The effect of micro-alloying additions on the variant selection during the austenite to ferrite transformation and microstructure evolution has been studied with electron back scattered diffraction (EBSD) in conjunction with orientation imaging microscopy (OIM). Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) was used to characterize the precipitate evolution in these welds. The evidence shows that the formation of a spinel oxide is critical for the nucleation of nitrides of zirconium and titanium and prevents the agglomeration of aluminum rich oxides and the formation of large aluminum nitrides. The evolution of precipitate formation is critical to limit large inclusions and improve weld metal toughness. The presence of titanium and zirconium increases the fraction of high angle grain boundaries within the microstructure resulting in increased resistance to crack propagation. The characterization of the microstructures at two different carbon contents indicates the greater propensity to form twin related variants with increase in carbon content. This suggests a lower transformation temperature of austenite and may be the reason for poor toughness.

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