Copper Steel - revisited

I haven't heard of copper as an alloying element in steel. Has
> it ever been tried? Any useful properties? In particular, what color
> was/would be the resulting alloy?
> ----------------------------
> Mr. P.V.'d
> formerly Droll Troll
I was surfing and came upon this thread from March. The discussion
was interesting, but while there was some dicussion of weathering
steels such as the COR-TEN types, there really wasn't any mention of
copper strengthened medium strength (up to 100ksi) structural steels.
This link:
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takes you to a brochure for ISG steel company's medium strength copper
strengthened steels. There are 5 grades listed (3 actually with a
couple of variations for different thickness ranges). The HPS grade
(spartan V) is a 100ksi yield strength bridge weathering steel, the
others are 80 and 100 ksi yield strength ship hull steels. None of
these steels are "stainless steels".
All of these steels have copper precipitation hardening as their
primary strengthening mechanism. The amount of copper far exceeds
that needed for weathering. The ship steels aren't considered
weathering since that mechanism doesn't work in chloride containing
The copper was added specifically to replace carbon for the purpose of
significantly improving weldability. While copper is an expensive
alloy replacement for carbon strengthening, the improved weldability
more than makes up for the increased alloy cost.
The corresponding steels that were replaced had approximately 0.12% to
0.18% (or slightly more) carbon and were quench and temper martensitic
strengthened steels. The copper versions have up to 1.75% copper and
more complex strengthening mechanisms, but are solution treated,
quenched, and aged with most of the strength from copper
precipitation. The temperatures and cooling rates for each step are
about the same for the old and new alloys, but the metallurgical
reactions are differerent, hence the different names. Also the
effects of each step are different. The carbon containing steels are
very hard and brittle after quenching and then moderate their strength
and greatly increase their impact and fracture toughness during
tempering. The copper steels are not very hard after quenching, and
the strength increases during aging. This is one of the features that
makes them more weldable - the weld HAZ hardness doesn't spike like it
does in the carbon martensite steels.
The brochure gives some good tables and charts showing how these
steels respond to heat treatment.
By the way, the color of the steel looks like steel at this level of
(not associated with ISG)
Reply to
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Not quite. I did briefly refer to a recent report on this type of steel in a March 20th post.
"The use of copper in steel continues to be researched. See:
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Steel Final Report.htm"
Pittsbugh Pete
Reply to
Pittsburgh Pete
Not quite. Actually I referred in a March 20th Post to a report by Fine and Vaynman from last year.
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"The objectives of the project were:
(a) To develop a high performance 70W steel (tough, strong, improved weldability and weatherability), less expensive that presently used construction steel; (b) To assist in marketing of the steel for infrastructure applications. The starting point was the Navy's HSLA 80 steel, a combined martensitic copper precipitation strengthened steel. Strengthening by copper precipitation plus grain refinement by niobium carbide without employing the martensite transformation was the approach taken. Copper precipitation occurs during air-cooling from hot rolling. Since hardenability during quenching is not a factor the carbon content in the Navy steel was lowered and chromium and molybdenum were omitted. Ni is present to prevent hot-shortness during hot rolling. Nb and Ti are present to control grain size during hot rolling and welding. Because of simplified processing and lean composition the resulting steel is lower in cost than ASTM 709 HPS70, HSLA 80 or other ASTM A710 steels.
The initial development of the steel (chemical composition and processing) was done with nine laboratory heats that were produced at Inland Steel Company and US Steel Research and Technology Center. Then, two commercial 80,000-kg heats were produced at Oregon Steel Mills (OSM) to investigate the steel production under industrial conditions and for use for bridge renovation. Also, slabs previously cast at OSM were hot-rolled at the USS Gary Works and then further processed at North Star Steel Company.
To assist in marketing, we worked with steel producers, steel consumers, the American Iron and Steel Institute/Federal Highway Administration/ US Navy Steering Committee on High Performance Steel Development, Government Agencies (FHWA, IDOT, Ohio DOT), etc. NUCu steel was used for rehabilitation of a bridge in Illinois and is planned for another bridge in the 2003-2004 construction seasons. We worked to include NUCu Steel in the ASTM A710 Standard. and this was accomplished. For technology transfer we published a number of papers and reported results and developments at Conferences and Symposia."
Reply to
Pittsburgh Pete

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