Development of microstructure and residual stresses in electron beam welds in low alloy pressure vessel steels

Anastasia Vasileiou, Michael Smith, John Francis, Jeyaganesh Balakrishnan, Yong Liang Wang, Gideon Obasi, M. Grace Burke, Ed Pickering, David Gandy, Neil Irvine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Reduced-pressure electron beam plate butt welds were manufactured in two low-alloy pressure-vessel steels, SA508 Gr 3 Cl 1 and Gr 2, at two thicknesses in both steels, 30 mm and 130 mm. Transient temperatures during welding were recorded using thermocouple arrays. Residual stresses in the as-welded condition and after post-weld heat treatment were measured using diverse methods: neutron diffraction and the contour method at 30 mm thickness; and deep hole drilling and the contour method at 130 mm. Incremental centre hole drilling measurements were performed at 130 mm thickness to better understand near-surface stresses. Weld and heat-affected zone microstructures and microconstituents were evaluated using a combination of hardness mapping, optical microscopy, and electron microscopy. The as-welded residual stresses exhibit the characteristic M-shaped distribution for hardenable steels, reaching 500-600 MPa in tension in both steels at both thicknesses. However, the modest changes to the chemical composition and the change in plate thickness both significantly influence microstructure, mechanical properties and residual stress distributions. These sensitivities underline the need for physically faithful models. This extensive characterisation study enables the development and validation of models that predict the development of microstructure, residual stress and distortion in EB welds in low alloy pressure vessel steels..
Original languageEnglish
JournalMaterials & Design
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 20 Jun 2021


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