The objective of this research was to gain a better understanding of the influence of essential welding variables on microstructure and properties of the grain-coarsened heat-affected zone (GCHAZ) regions formed in pipeline girth welds. In this study, thermal simulation techniques were used to provide a detailed evaluation of the GCHAZ microstructure evolution and intrinsic toughness for two different pipe steels subjected to known welding thermal cycles.
The continuous cooling transformation (CCT) diagrams for the GCHAZ were determined by means of dilatometric techniques with a peak temperature (Tp) = 1350°C and a range of cooling times (Δt800–500 = ∼1 to 100 s). The transformation start and finish temperatures were used to create GCHAZ CCT diagrams for two X80 pipe steels. To further assist with the interpretation of CCT results both light optical microscopy (LOM) and microhardness surveys were used. The results revealed that transformation to predominantly low carbon lath martensite or fine bainite occurred for short cooling times, while bainite formed at intermediate cooling times and upper or granular bainite was obtained for longer cooling times. Some of the detailed features of these simulated GCHAZ microstructures were characterized by scanning electron and transmission electron microscopy (SEM and TEM) in order to better quantify the phases in selected samples. This analysis clearly indicates that despite similar carbon equivalents (CEs), the response of each steel to given GCHAZ thermal was quite different.
The GCHAZ Charpy-V-notch (CVN) impact energy transition curves for the series of single thermal cycles with cooling times, Δt800–500 = 6, 15 and 30 s and were compared against those obtained for the respective pipe steels. The results showed that there were upward shifts in transition temperature for the simulated GCHAZs relative to the respective pipe steels. This overall reduction of notch toughness was attributed to variations in microstructural features for the respective GCHAZs.