Development of Repair Mechanism and Life Estimation of IN-939 Based Powerplant Components: Part 1

Md. Tawfiqur Rahman


To help meet the ever increasing demands of fossil fuel powerplants and the associated stringent efficiency requirements, all aspects of material selection are critical to ensuring an overall increased material lifecycle within the plant. The increasing use of high performance materials such as nickel or cobalt-based super-alloys in powerplant components such as blades, nozzles, combustion cans and gas turbine transition pieces has certainly helped to improve these aspects but due to operation under extreme temperature and pressure conditions, it is inevitable that wear, tear, and metallurgical degradation will not be avoided.

During this 4 part research we explore the development of a repair mechanism for mechanical cracks and rejuvenation of metallurgically degraded whole components made of the nickel-based superalloy IN-939 that are compatible with metal’s unique metallurgical structure with the aid of readily available resources. The repair and rejuvenation work used in this research includes the Gas Tungsten Arc Welding and Heat Treatment Process.

The outcome of the research work would be the development of welding process specifications and remaining life estimation of such components. At present due to the purchase of such components power generation companies are bound to incur a lot of money every year. If these repair and rejuvenation mechanisms are implemented the lifetime of these components will be extended as a result these huge expenditures can be avoided.

Background and Literature Review

Welding nickel-base superalloys is always a challenging job. To obtain crack-free and high strength welding the minimization of residual stresses are crucial. This variable of welding can be controlled by appropriate heat-treatment, decreasing heat input, and choosing filler metals with low modulus of elasticity. Several researchers have performed studies on different aspects of welding nickel-based superalloys which are reviewed in the following summaries:

Dae-Young Kim et al. [12] in their research work found that the rate of cracking of autogenous GTA welds in IN 738 alloy decreased with lowering heat input. The properties of IN 738 were very similar to IN 939 which was precipitation hardened superalloy. This was because high heat input caused high residual stress which in turn produced cracks. Ainsworth [13] in his study found that for a low level of external load, the initial crack driving force was induced by residual stresses. This hypothesis was very much applicable to gas turbine nozzles because they were subjected to mainly thermal stresses. Furthermore, the adverse effect of residual stress was also investigated by Park et al. [15] They performed their study on IN 617 and found that in presence of residual stresses the crack growth rate was increased by 20%. So, it was obvious that by minimizing residual stresses the crack growth could be decreased. Whereas heat treatment played a very vital role in this scenario.

Shaw [9] in his study suggested that repairing nozzles made of IN 939 pre-weld heat treatment was helpful. His prescribed heat treatment was 4h/11600C+ 6h/10000C+500C cooling per minute. He mentioned that by adopting this technique an elongation of over 9% could be achieved compared to 4.5% for material treated with the same procedure except control cooling. But this controlled cooling is not practically viable. Mottari et al. [11] in his study found that the average fracture toughness of weld specimens of IN 939 was reduced by about 40% by residual stress. In their experiment, they used pre-heat treatment without control cooling and IN 625 as filler material. Their results suggested the hypothesis mentioned above. As solution strengthened filler material used for welding precipitation hardened filler material, in this study the strength of the final weld was already compromised. So, if residual stress of such a high magnitude was permitted to develop during repair welding the circumstances would be catastrophic and the main objective of repair welding might be completely missed.

Although several studies have been performed on welding the nickel-based precipitation hardened superalloy IN 939, which is widely used for many structural components of a modern gas turbine-based power plant, but no study has been performed to minimize residual stress during repair welding of such components. Especially using controlled cooling during pre-weld heat treatment, minimizing heat input and using softer solid solution strengthened filler material than IN-625 to produce crack-free and strong weld which can be reused in gas turbines. These issues are addressed in the present study. Furthermore, precipitation hardened filler material will be used for high-stress components with post-weld heat treatment, and fracture toughness values for both groups of base and filler metal selection will be investigated experimentally.


1. Davis, J. (1999). Heat-resistant materials. 1st ed. Materials Park, Ohio: ASM Internat.

2. Geddes, B., Huang, X. and Leon, H. (2010). Superalloys. 1st ed. Materials Park, Ohio: ASM International.

3. Davis, J. (2007). Nickel, cobalt, and their alloys. Materials Park, OH: ASM International.

4. Peng, J., Zhang, H., & Li, Y. (2015). Review of Blade Materials for IGT. Procedia Engineering, 130, 668-675. DOI: 10.1016/j.proeng.2015.12.295.

5. Delargy, K. M., & Smith, G. D. (1983). The phase composition and phase stability of a high-chromium nickel-based superalloy, IN939. Metallurgical Transactions A, 14(9), 1771-1783. DOI:10.1007/bf02645547.

6. Donachie, M. J., & Donachie, S. J. (2002). Superalloys a technical guide. MaterialsPark: ASM International.

7. Shaw, S. (1980). The response of IN-939 to Process Variations. Superalloys 1980(Fourth International Symposium).doi:10.7449/1980/superalloys_1980_275_284.

8. Development of repair mechanism of FSX-414 based 1st stage nozzle of the gas turbine. (2017). [online]Available at

9. Lippold, J., Kiser, S., and DuPont, J. (2013). Welding metallurgy and weldability of nickel-base alloys. Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley.

10. Kitteringham, G. (1987). High-Temperature Alloys for Gas Turbines and Other Applications 1986. High-Temperature Technology, 5(1), 52-54. DOI:10.1080/02619180.1987.11753341.

11. M. Motarri, M.M. Shokrieh, H.Moshayedi.2020, Effect of residual stresses induced by repair welding on the fracture toughness of Ni-based IN939 alloy

12. Dae-Young Kim, Jong-Hyun Hwang, Kwang-Soo Kim, Joong-Geun Youn, A Study on Fusion Repair Process for a Precipitation Hardened IN738 Ni-Based Superalloy

13. R.A. Ainsworth, The treatment of thermal and residual stresses in fracture assessments, Eng. Fract. Mech. 24 (1986) 56–76

14. Y.S. Park, T.K. Kim, D.H. Bae, Assessment of fracture mechanical characteristics including welding residual stress at the weld of Ni-base superalloy 617, 19th European Conference on Fracture, 2012, pp. 163–170.

15. Enhancing power output and profitability through energy-efficiency techniques and advanced materials in today’s industrial gas turbines Zainul Huda, Tuan Zaharinie2and Hany A Al-Ansary

17. Effects of Filler Metals on Heat-Affected Zone Cracking in IN-939 Superalloy Gas-Tungsten-Arc Welds, H. Kazempour-Liasi, M. Tajally, and H. Abdollah-Pour

18. ASTM-E1820-15, Standard test method for measurement of fracture toughness, in, American Society for Testing and Materials, Philadelphia, 2015.

19. Effects of pre- and post-weld heat treatment cycles on the liquation and strain-age cracking of IN939 superalloy To cite this article: H Kazempour-Liasi et al 2019 Eng. Res. Express 1 025026

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