Temper embrittlement is a common damage mechanism of pressure vessels in the chemical and petrochemical industry serviced in high temperature, which results in the reduction of roughness due to metallurgical change in some low alloy steels. Pressure vessels that are temper embrittled may be susceptible to brittle fracture under certain operating conditions which cause high stress by thermal gradients, e.g., during start-up and shutdown. 2.25Cr1-Mo steel is widely used to make hydrogenation reactor due to its superior combination of high mechanical strength, good weldability, excellent high temperature hydrogen attack (HTHA) and oxidation-resistance. However, 2.25Cr-1Mo steel is particularly susceptible to temper embrittlement.
In this paper, the effect of carbide on temper embrittlement of 2.25Cr-1Mo steel was investigated. Mechanical properties and the ductile-brittle transition temperature (DBTT) of 2.25Cr-1Mo steel were measured by tensile test and impact test. The tests were performed at two positions (base metal and weld metal) and three states (original, step cooling treated and in-service for a hundred thousand hours).
The content and distribution of carbides were analyzed by scanning electron microscope (SEM). The content of Cr and Mo elements in carbide was measured by energy dispersive X-ray analysis (EDS). The results showed that the embrittlement could increase the strength and reduce the plasticity. Higher carbide contents appear to be responsible for the higher DBTT. The in-service 2.25Cr-1Mo steel showed the highest DBTT and carbide content, followed by step cooling treated 2.25Cr-1Mo steel, while the as-received 2.25Cr-1Mo steel has the minimum DBTT and carbide content. At the same time, the Cr and Mo contents in carbide increased with the increasing of DBTT. It is well known that the specimen analyzed by SEM is very small in size, sampling SEM specimen is convenient and nondestructive to pressure vessel. Therefore, the relationship between DBTT and the content of carbide offers a feasible nondestructive method for quantitative measuring the temper embrittlement of 2.25Cr-1Mo steel pressure vessel.