Thermodynamics, kinetics and process control of nitriding

Eric J. Mittemeijer, Marcel A. J. Somers

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    As a prerequisite for the predictability of properties obtained by a nitriding treatment of iron based workpieces, the relation between the process parameters and the composition and structure of the surface layer produced must be known. At present, even the description of thermodynamic equilibrium of pure Fe-N phases has not been fully achieved. It is shown that taking into account the ordering of nitrogen in the epsilon and gamma' iron nitride phases leads to an improved understanding of the Fe-N phase diagram. Although consideration of thermodynamics indicates the state the system strives for, the nitriding result is determined largely by kinetics. Nitriding kinetics are shown to be characterised by local near equilibria and stationary states at surfaces and interfaces, and the diffusion coefficient of nitrogen in the various phases, for which new data are presented. The necessary background for process control of gaseous nitriding by monitoring the partial pressure of oxygen in the furnace using a solid state electrolyte is provided.

    At the time the work was carried out the authors were in the Laboratory of Materials Science, Delft University of Technology, Rotterdamseweg 137, 2628 AL Delft, The Netherlands; Professor Mittemeijer is now also at the Max Planck Institute for Metals Research, Seestrasse 92, D-70174 Stuttgart, Germany and Professor Somers is now in the Division of Metallurgy, Technical University of Denmark, Bldg 204, DK 2800, Lyngby, Denmark. Contribution to the 10th Congress of the International Federation for Heat Treatment and Surface Engineering held in Brighton, UK on 1-5 September 1996. (C) 1997 The Institute of Materials.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalSurface Engineering
    Issue number6
    Pages (from-to)483-497
    Publication statusPublished - 1997


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