It is important that the material used to produce high-integrity pressure vessels has homogeneous properties which are reproducible and within specification. Most heavy pressure vessels comprise large forgings derived from ingots, and are consequently affected by the chemical segregation that occurs during ingot casting. Of particular concern are the compositional variations that arise from macrosegregation, such as the channels of enriched material commonly referred to as A-segregates. By causing corresponding variations in microstructure, the segregation may be detrimental to mechanical properties. Given the scale of the pressure vessel casting, the segregation cannot be removed by practically feasible heat treatments.

Here we describe an investigation on the consequences of macrosegregation on the development of microstructure in a pressure-vessel steel, SA508 Grade 3. It is demonstrated that the kinetics of transformation are sensitive to the segregation, resulting in a dramatic spatial variations in microstructure. It is likely therefore that some of the scatter in mechanical properties as observed for such pressure vessels can be attributed to macroscopic casting-induced chemical segregation.

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