A first step towards computational design of W-containing self-healing ferritic creep resistant steels

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In this work, we combine a generic alloy-by-design model with a novel concept, the nucleation barrier for the formation of Laves phase to fill the creep cavities, in order to develop multi-component creep resistant steels with kinetically tuned self-healing behaviour. In the model the high-temperature long-term strength is estimated by integrating precipitation strengthening due to M23C6 carbides and solid solution strengthening, while the optimized compositional solutions are determined by employing the coupled thermodynamic and kinetic principles. W-containing Laves phase herein is selected as the self-healing agent to autonomously fill the grain boundary cavities, so as to prolong the creep lifetime. To achieve the effective healing reaction, the nucleation time for Laves precipitates are expected to coincide simultaneously with which creep cavities start to form or reach a healable size. Using experimental data from literature, an empirical relationship to estimate the incubation time for Laves phase formation has been constructed, from which the thermodynamic driving force for onset of precipitation as a function of temperature and intended precipitate nucleation time was derived. Three sample alloys have been selected among the desirable solutions, which are predicted to have the same strength but widely different Laves phase nucleation times. The calculations are also performed for different use temperatures to explore the compatibility between high temperature strength and timely cavity filling behaviour. In its current form the model is not expected to yield the truly optimal composition but to demonstrate how the kinetics of the healing reaction can affect the predicted optimal alloy compositions.