Nitrogen in Steels May23

Nitrogen in Steels

Nitrogen in Steels All steels contain some nitrogen which can enter the steel as an impurity or as an intentional alloying addition. The quantity of nitrogen in steels normally depends on the residual level arising from the steelmaking processes or the amount aimed in case of deliberate addition. There are significant differences in residual levels of nitrogen in steels produced from the two main steelmaking processes. Basic oxygen furnace (BOF) process generally results into lower residual nitrogen in steels, typically in the range of 30 to 70 ppm while electric arc furnace (EAF) process results into higher residual nitrogen, typically in the range of 70 to 110 ppm. Nitrogen is added to some steels (e.g. steels containing vanadium) to provide sufficient nitrogen for formation of nitride to achieve higher strength. In such steels nitrogen levels can increase to 200 ppm or higher. Nitrogen in the liquid steel is present in the form of solution. During the solidification of steel in continuous casting, three nitrogen related phenomena can happen. These are Formation of blow holes Precipitation of one or more nitride compounds Solidification of nitrogen in interstitial solid solution. The maximum solubility of nitrogen in liquid iron is around 450 ppm, and less than 10 ppm at ambient temperature (Fig 1). The presence of significant quantities of other elements in liquid iron affects the solubility of nitrogen. Mainly the presence of dissolved sulfur and oxygen limit the absorption of nitrogen because they are surface active elements. Fig 1 Solubility of nitrogen in iron Nitrogen is generally considered as undesirable impurity which causes embrittlement in steels and affects strain aging. However nitrogen produces a marked (intersititial solid solution) strengthening when diffused into the surface of the steel, similar to the strengthening observed during case hardening (Nitriding)....