Effects and Mechanisms of Niobium on the Fracture Toughness of Heavy Rail Steel
Heavy rail steel was prepared by the process of vacuum induction furnace smelting, forge work and rolling. Effects and mechanisms of niobium on the fracture toughness of heavy rail steel were investigated. In addition, the appropriate range of niobium content for heavy rail steel was determined. With the niobium content increasing, both the austenite grain size and pearlite laminae distance of heavy rail steel were decreased gradually at first and then increased rapidly. When the niobium content was low, the precipitates containing niobium predominantly appeared in the cementite, which improved the toughness of heavy rail steel by fining the austenite grain size and pearlite laminae distance; when the niobium content > 0.024%, the fine dispersed precipitates containing niobium mainly occurred in the ferrite, which improved the toughness of heavy rail steel by pining dislocations and inhibiting crack growth; with the niobium content increasing, both the quantity and size of precipitates containing niobium were increased gradually; when the niobium content > 0.073%, most precipitates containing niobium could not pin dislocations and inhibit crack growth because the particles size was too big, thus the fracture toughness of heavy rail steel was bad. So the optimum range of the niobium content could improve the fracture toughness of heavy rail steel. In the present study, when the niobium content was about 0.053%, the fracture toughness of heavy rail steel was the best. The maximum plane-strain fracture toughness was 49.88 MPam1/2.
C. J. Liu et al., "Effects and Mechanisms of Niobium on the Fracture Toughness of Heavy Rail Steel", Advanced Materials Research, Vols. 163-167, pp. 110-116, 2011