Characterization of microstructural changes due to prolonged thermal exposure of directionally solidified Ni-base super alloy CM 247LC using ultrasonic

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The high temperature strength of directionally solidified Ni-base super alloy CM 247LC strongly depends on the morphology, volume fraction, size and size distribution of γ′ precipitate (Ni3Al) in the FCC γ matrix. The microstructure of the alloy is engineered to achieve the right combination of these parameters that provides the required high temperature strength and creep resistance. The alloy contains high volume fraction of coherent γ′ precipitates having near cubic shape. High temperature exposure of gas turbine components made out of the alloy leads to coarsening of the γ′ precipitates and broadening of the γ matrix channel. This in turn, adversely affects the high temperature mechanical properties of the alloy. The present study endeavours to non-destructively characterize such detrimental changes in the microstructure that controls the mechanical properties and limits the life of components. The microstructural changes of the fully heat treated alloy exposed at 980 °C for different hours (100–1200) of thermal exposure have been characterized using ultrasonic methods. Changes in microstructural parameters due to different hours of thermal exposure have been correlated with changes in ultrasonic velocity, ultrasonic attenuation coefficient and second order acoustic nonlinearity parameter. It is observed that the change in attenuation is predominantly by absorption of the ultrasonic wave due to dislocation damping in the γ channels. Nonlinear ultrasonic parameter changes with thermal exposure predominantly due to the alteration of dislocation precipitate interaction. A dislocation precipitation interaction model for ultrasonic wave distortion has been used to explain the observed variation in nonlinear parameter. A microstructural parameter has been identified that varies in a similar way as ultrasonic attenuation and second order ultrasonic parameter. It is shown that variations in the acoustic non-linearity parameter follow the trend more closely with the identified microstructural parameter.

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