The heat treatments of U stainless steel heat exchanger

When talking about the heat treatment of austenitic U-shaped stainless steel tubes, most people think it’s not necessary because of sensitization and high solution treatment temperature, it is easy to cause deformation of the pipe. In fact, the heat treatment of Austenitic stainless steel is inevitable, heat treatment can not change the structure of stainless steel tubes, but can change the processability.

For example, due to low carbon content, 304 stainless steel heat exchange tube is difficult when normalizing to make the surface roughness of the gear shaping cutter to meet the requirements, reduce the tool life. The low carbon martensite and iron cable structure obtained after incomplete quenching can greatly improve the hardness and surface roughness, and the service life of the pipe can also be increased by 3 ~ 4 times. In addition, the u-shaped heat exchange tube bending part has a small bending radius and obvious work hardening phenomenon, heat treatment is necessary, and compared with the whole equipment for heat treatment, austenitic stainless steel pipe solution heat treatment, pickling passivation is much simpler. In this paper, a series of tests have been taken on U-shaped tubes with different specifications, bending radius and heat treatment conditions, and the necessity of heat treatment for U-shaped tubes made of austenitic stainless steel has been analyzed.


Experimental materials:

304 stainless steel U-tube

Size: 19*2mm, bending radius: 40, 15, 190, 265, 340mm

Size: 25*2.5mm Bending radius: 40, 115, 190, 265, 340,mm

Heat treatment: untreated, subsolid solution treatment, solid solution treatment


Hardness Testing

The bending section of u-shaped heat exchange tube without heat treatment and subsolid solution treatment: with the decrease of bending radius, the hardness value increases. The hardness value of heat exchange tube after solution treatment (compared with that before bending) has no obvious change. This indicates that Austenitic stainless steel work hardening effect is obvious, and with the increase of deformation, the trend of work hardening increases.


Microscopic inspection

For the u-shaped bend section with a bending radius of 40mm: there are a lot of martensite and slip lines in the microstructure without heat treatment, and the equiaxed shape of austenite in the microstructure has completely disappeared (too much martensite will make the steel brittle). Most of the martensite in the subsolid solution treated tissue has been transformed, but a small amount of martensite still exists.

After solution treatment, the austenite grains were equiaxed and no martensite was found. The slip bands and martensite also existed in the unheated microstructure of u-shaped tubes with bending radius R of 115, 190, 265 and 340mm after bending, but the content decreased gradually with the increase of bending radius. When the bending radius R of the U-shaped tube is greater than or equal to 265mm, the effect on the microstructure before and after heat treatment is not significant. When the bending radius R is less than 265mm, there is martensite in the microstructure of unheated U-shaped tubes, and the content of martensite decreases with the increase of heat treatment temperature (subsolid solution treatment and solid solution treatment).


Intergranular corrosion test

By microscopic examination, it was found that the presence of martensite did not affect intergranular corrosion. Although there is a large amount of martensite in the absolutized microstructure, there is no tendency of intergranular corrosion along with the distribution of martensite. Some grain boundaries widened before and after solution treatment, and the distribution of grain boundaries widened was independent of the distribution of martensite. On the basis of microscopic examination after the corrosion test, the bending test was carried out for u-shaped tubes in various states according to the test standard. No intergranular corrosion cracks were found in the tubes after bending 180°.


Solution treatment temperature

The effect of solution treatment is affected by the low solution temperature, and the results of microstructure and hardness can not be obtained. If the temperature is slightly higher, defects such as concave or crack may appear inside the U-shaped segment.


From the experiment, it is known that the martensite transformation of stainless steel after cold processing, the influence of corrosion resistance is far greater than the stress. When the bending radius of the u-shaped tube is less than 115mm, the microstructure of the u-shaped tube before and after solution treatment is significantly different. For this small radius U-shaped pipe bend segment, solid solution treatment should be performed after cold forming. If there is no requirement for higher intergranular corrosion resistance, it is recommended that the u-shaped bending section with a bending radius less than or equal to 265mm be treated with solution treatment (note to eliminate residual stress). For u-shaped heat exchange tubes with large radius curvature, the bending section may not be treated with solution, except for stress corrosion sensitive environments. Because the small pipe diameter fluid resistance is large, it is inconvenient to clean and easy to block the structure, and the large diameter stainless steel pipe fluid resistance is not as large as the small pipe diameter, easy to clean, more used for viscous or dirty fluid.


WLD Company can provide 304/316 stainless steel heat exchange tubes from 10mm to 114mm, the thickness of 0.6mm to 3.0mm; The length can be customized according to your actual working conditions. If you need it please contact us today.