We report on the microstructure and mechanical properties of T91 alloy subjected to different thermomechanical treatments (TMTs). Equal channel angular extrusion (ECAE) was performed at 23, 300, 625, and 700 C. Mechanical strength of T91 alloy is enhanced after cold-ECAE at the expense of ductility. In comparison, the hot-ECAE process leads to less pronounced hardening but retention of ductility and work hardening ability. Microstructure analyses reveal that cold-ECAE has significantly reduced the average grain size, while hot-ECAE is more effective to refine and uniformly redistribute carbide nanoprecipitates. Post-ECAE annealing (500 C/10 h) leads to reprecipitation of large carbide particles in cold-ECAE processed alloy, whereas the hot-ECAEed specimens retain smaller nanoscale carbide precipitates and uniform microstructure. A mechanism is proposed to explain the influence of TMT on the evolution of precipitates. Strengthening of T91 alloy is discussed through a modified model that considers the effects of dislocation density, grain size, and precipitation hardening.
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Acknowledgements We acknowledge financial support by DOE-NEUP under Contract No. DE-AC07-05ID14517-00088120. Partial support by US Army Research Office—Materials Science Division is also acknowledged under Contract No. W911NF-09-1-0223. Technical assistance on ECAE processing from Mr. Robert Barber is greatly appreciated. We also acknowledge the use of microscopes at the Microscopy and Imaging Center (MIC) at Texas A&M University.