Dynamics of the Quenching and Partitioning (Q&P) Process
The novel heat treatment concept of Quenching and Partitioning (Q&P) offers exciting prospects for the production of higher strength steel products with enhanced formability from a microstructure containing retained austenite and martensite. The Q&P process hinges on an interrupted quench and partitioning step at intermediate temperatures whereby the untransformed austenite can be thermodynamically stabilised by enrichment of carbon from the supersaturated martensite. Although the concept is similar to that producing carbide-free bainite in TRIP-assisted steel, Q&P offers the advantage of separating the ferrite formation and austenite enrichment stages of the process. While the concept is readily understood, the details of microstructural evolution during interrupted quenching and partitioning steps are difficult to study and are generally inferred from dilatometry or metallographic examination after a final quench back to room temperature. Consequently, in this study, alloying has been used to develop a model alloy in which the sequential steps of heat treatment can be separated for closer, more direct inspection by neutron diffraction techniques.
Yves Bréchet, Emmanuel Clouet, Alexis Deschamps, Alphonse Finel and Frédéric Soisson
T. D. Bigg et al., "Dynamics of the Quenching and Partitioning (Q&P) Process", Solid State Phenomena, Vols. 172-174, pp. 827-832, 2011