Stress Relaxation Cracking in 347H Stainless Steel Arc Welds: Susceptibility Evaluation of Heat-Affected Zone: Article No. 494

Timothy Pickle, Yu Hong, Chad Augustine, Judith Vidal, Zhenzhen Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Stress relaxation cracking (SRC) is considered one of the major failure mechanisms for 347H stainless steel welds at elevated service temperatures or during post weld heat treatment (PWHT), especially within the heat-affected zone (HAZ). This work focuses on the characterization of SRC susceptibility within 347H physically simulated arc welded HAZ at elevated temperatures. A four-step SRC thermomechanical test in combination with finite element modeling (FEM) of the welding and testing processes is developed to establish a susceptibility map for HAZ. The test first runs a thermal cycle with three different peak temperatures (1335, 1275, and 1150 degrees C) to duplicate representative HAZ subzone microstructures, followed by time-to-failure examination under a variety of pre-stress (260-600 MPa) and pre-strain conditions (0.03-0.19) as a function of reheat temperatures between 750 and 1050 degrees C. With the aid of FEM, SRC susceptibility maps are generated to identify the threshold stress, plastic strain, and creep strain as a function of test temperature. It was found out that HAZ subzone with a lower peak temperature (1150 degrees C) appears to be slightly less susceptible to SRC than the other two subzones that experienced higher peak temperatures. Generally, time-to-fracture reduces with increasing initially applied stress and strain for all test temperatures. The pre-stress thresholds decrease from about 500 to 330 MPa as the testing temperature increases from 800 to 1050 degrees C, while the corresponding initial plastic strain thresholds reduces from 0.15 to 0.06. The SRC susceptibility was also evaluated through the Larson-Miller Parameter (LMP) analysis as a function of plastic strain, initial stress and starting stress upon reaching the testing temperature, respectively. The 1050 degrees C test with a high pre-applied strain (0.1) exhibits an extremely short time to failure (t = 3 s) that lies outside the general trend in LMP analysis. Additionally, it was identified that a plastic strain above 0.07 is identified to significantly reduce the bulk creep strain tolerance to fracture and therefore increases SRC susceptibility. Hardness measurement and fractography analysis indicated that the strain aging of niobium carbonitrides and other potential phases in conjunction with intergranular precipitates contributes to an increase in microhardness and increased intergranular cracking susceptibility.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages22
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2024

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5700-90197


  • fracture
  • heat-affected zone
  • reheat cracking
  • residual stress
  • stainless steel
  • stress relaxation cracking
  • weldability


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