Owing to recent concerns regarding pipeline field girth weld performance, particularly heat affected zone (HAZ) softening and toughness, EVRAZ North America has initiated a research program to evaluate the response of API grade line pipe to the current field girth welding practices. In particular, this study aims to elucidate the role of steel alloy design as well as the welding procedure on field girth weld and HAZ properties. This understanding is critical to balance the detrimental effects of HAZ softening on the overall joint strength against factors affecting HAZ toughness. A selection of several different steels with different levels of alloying elements, Ceq and Pcm have been subjected to welding trials to assess the effects of chemistry on joint performance. Furthermore, an analysis on the effect of welding process parameters on the joint properties has been made. The welds, fabricated via a manual shielded metal arc welding (M-SMAW) process, were evaluated in terms of toughness, local vs global strain distribution during tensile testing using digital image correlation (DIC) technique, and hardness contour mapping of the weld and HAZ regions. The results explicitly show that the extent of HAZ softening decreased as the amount of Mo, Mn, Ti/N and Ceq increased. However, this alloying addition resulted in a detrimental effect on the HAZ toughness, particularly towards the cap and fill passes. The HAZ softening increased as the inter-pass temperature and the welding heat input increased. In addition, the strain analysis confirmed the weld passes towards the root/hot passes are more prone to HAZ softening compared with the upper cap and fill passes.

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