A high degree of work hardening is desirable for steels to be employed in strain-based pipeline designs. In an effort to enhance work hardening characteristics, this study was conducted to determine the effect of thermal treatment on microstructural development and the subsequent relationship between microstructure and tensile behaviour of high strength microalloyed line pipe steel. A series of thermal schedules was applied to X80 steel samples using a Gleeble thermo-mechanical simulator in order to generate a variety of microstructures. The microstructures were quantified by calculating the phase fraction of individual phases using scanning electron microscopy (SEM). A focused ion beam (FIB) instrument was used to prepare electron transparent samples of specific grains that were characterized using transmission electron microscopy (TEM). The X80 microstructures were composed mostly of bainitic and ferritic grains with isolated pockets of martensite and M-A islands due to local carbon segregation. The effect of thermal treatment on microstructural evolution was determined based on varying the interrupt temperature, re-heat temperature and hold time at elevated temperatures. The overall effect of microstructure on the mechanical properties was evaluated, with a particular focus on hardness values and the shape of the stress-strain curves. The effect of thermal history and microstructure development on the work hardening characteristics was also determined.

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