Nitrogen and Steels

Nitrogen and Steels Nitrogen (N) (atomic number 7 and atomic weight 14.008) has density of 1.25 gm/litre at standard temperature and pressure. Melting point of N is -210 deg C and boiling point is -195.8 deg C. The phase diagram of the Fe-N binary system is at Fig 1. Fig 1 Fe-N phase diagram N is present in all commercial steels. Since the of concerns of presence of N in steels are normally small and its analysis being complex and expensive, its existence is generally ignored even in steel specifications in various standards. However, whether present as a residual element or added deliberately as an alloying element, the effects of N in steel are significant.  N is an important and inexpensive alloying addition to steels. In recent years there has been an increasing demand to reduce and control the amount of dissolved gases in steel. N is one of the important gas which when dissolved in liquid steel affect its properties significantly. Hence control of N content of steels during steelmaking is important. N in steel can be in its uncombined form as free N or in the form of a compound or nitride. Steel from an electric arc furnace (EAF) normally has higher N levels (70-110 ppm) compared to that produced in a basic oxygen furnace (BOF) where N varies between 30 and 70 ppm. Hence, N is of particular importance in an EAF plant. In certain stainless steel grades the amount of N can be at the level of 3000 ppm. N levels in degassed steels can be below 10 ppm.  N exists in steel as an interstitial quite similar to, but much more soluble than, carbon (C) and as nitrides of iron (Fe), aluminum (Al), vanadium (V), niobium (Nb), titanium (Ti),...