Prediction of crack arrestability of higher grade line pipe steel microalloyed with niobium in full scale burst tests based on laboratory simulation tests including Charpy impact, DWTT and CTOD is rendered difficult, as the full scale burst test is found to be far more sensitive to microstructure variables than current laboratory tests. This paper deals with nano-scale TiN-NbC composite precipitate engineering as an alternative approach to strain-induced precipitation of NbC to produce thicker gage plate or coil with enhanced toughness and resistance to ductile fracture propagation of line pipe steel. Microstructure engineering is based on identification of key microstructural parameters to which target properties can be related, and engineer the target microstructure through design of base chemistry and optimization of processing schedules. Nano-scale precipitate engineering based on control of spacing and size of TiN-NbC composite precipitate offers a new approach to achieve excellent strength and toughness (300J at −60C) of line pipe steels through control of target microstructure consisting of: (i) refinement of austenite grain size (under 30 microns) of transfer bar before pancaking, (ii) high volume fraction of acicular ferrite with adequate plasticity to increase resistance to ductile fracture propagation, (iii) high density and uniform dispersion of high angle grain boundaries that arrest micro-cracks to suppress brittle fracture initiation, (iv) less intensity of unfavorable {100}<011> texture component that facilitate the propagation of brittle fracture, (v) suppression of ultra-fine precipitates in the matrix, thereby enlarging plastic zone ahead of the crack tip to blunt the tip of the crack, and (vi) suppression of coarse brittle constituents (carbides or MA products) that initiate brittle fracture. Experimental results are presented on thermo-mechanically rolled X-90 and K-60 that validate the concept of microstructure engineering using TiN-NbC composite precipitate engineering to enhance strength and fracture toughness.

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