Fabrication, strength and oxidation of molybdenum-silicon-boron alloys from reaction synthesis
Middlemas, Michael Robert
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Mo-Si-B alloys are a leading candidate for the next generation of jet turbine engine blades and have the potential to raise operating temperatures by 300-400°C. The alloys of interest are a three-phase mixture of the molybdenum solid solution (Moss) and two intermetallic phases, Mo3Si (A15) and Mo5SiB2 (T2). A novel powder metallurgical method was developed which uses the reaction of molybdenum, silicon nitride (Si3N4) and boron nitride (BN) powders to synthesize a fine dispersion of intermetallics in a Moss matrix. The covalent nitrides are stable in oxidizing environments up to 1000ºC, allowing for fine particle processing. The process developed uses standard powder processing techniques to create Mo-Si-B alloys in a less complex and expensive manner than previously demonstrated. This powder metallurgy approach yields a fine dispersion of intermetallics in the Moss matrix with average grain sizes of 2-4μm. Densities up to 95% of theoretical were attained from pressureless sintering at 1600°C and full theoretical density was achieved by hot-isostatic pressing (HIP). Sintering and HIPing at 1300°C reduced the grain sizes of all three phases by over a factor of two. Microstructure examination by electron back-scatter diffraction imaging was used to precisely define the location of the phases and to measure the volume fractions and grain size distributions. Microstructural quantification techniques including two-point correlation functions were used to quantify microstructural features and correlate the BN reactant powder size and morphology to the distribution of the intermetallic phases. High-temperature tensile tests were conducted and yield strengths of 580MPa at 1100°C and 480MPa at 1200°C were measured for the Mo-2Si-1Bwt.% alloy. The yield strength of the Mo-3Si-1Bwt.% alloy was 680MPa at 1100°C and 420MPa at 1300°C. A review of the pertinent literature reveals that these are among the highest yield strengths measured for these compositions. The oxidation resistance in air at 1000 and 1100°C was examined. The protective borosilicate surface layer formed quickly due to the close spacing of intermetallic particles and pre-oxidation treatment was developed to further limit the transient oxidation behavior. An oxidation model was developed which factors in the different stages of oxidation to predict compositions that minimize oxidation.