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Vol. 9. Issue 1.
Pages 222-229 (January - February 2020)
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Vol. 9. Issue 1.
Pages 222-229 (January - February 2020)
Original Article
DOI: 10.1016/j.jmrt.2019.10.047
Open Access
Experimental creep behavior and life prediction through observation and numerical analysis for AISI 310
Julianna Magalhães Garcia
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Corresponding author.
, Luiz Paulo Brandao, Ulisses Oliveira Costa, João Vitor Salgado, Larissa Fernandes Nunes, Andersan dos Santos Paula, Sergio Neves Monteiro
Military Institute of Engineering - IME, Department of Materials Science, Praça General Tibúrcio, 80, CEP 22290-270, Urca, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil
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Figures (7)
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Tables (4)
Table 1. Chemical composition AISI 310, by weight%.
Table 2. Nominal mechanical properties of AISI 310 steel as received.
Table 3. Test conditions and fracture time for AISI 310 steel.
Table 4. Relationship between calculated and experimental fracture times.
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The present study conducted for the first time a life prediction based on numerical analysis of creep deformation and fracture behavior results of special notched specimens of AISI 310 steel. For this purpose, flat creep specimens with double edge notch were tested under stress is of 225, 160 and 100 MPa at temperatures of 700, 675 and 650 °C. Then it was analyzed the creep behavior of the material through observational and numerical analysis. Furthermore, the Q* parameter was used to establish a novel life predication equation for 310 steel. The creep curves were characteristic of the experiment, with a strong influence of the stress in the creep stage II. Using the Q* parameter, a good agreement was observed between the experimental and the calculated data. The characteristic of fracture surfaces was dependent on both stress and temperature with a transition from ductile fracture, with formation of dimples, to brittle intergranular fractures, evidenced by cavities in the grain boundaries. Coalescence and growth of microcracks on the specimen surface were also observed in a region at 45° from the notch tip, characteristic of the damage propagation caused by the creep test.

AISI 310 steel
Q* parameter
Fracture surface
Numerical analysis
Full Text

Several studies have been conducted on the effect of steel compositions and their behavior on various service situations [1–5]. One of these steels, was the AISI 310 austenitic stainless steel, which has a high chromium (Cr) and nickel (Ni) content compared to ordinary (Cr Ni Fe)-based alloys and a unique combination of elements, ensuring high tensile and oxidation resistance for applications up to 1323 K [1]. These characteristics make this material a potential substitute for Ni-based superalloys for thermoelectric boiler tube applications, as they are relatively cost-effective [2].

Structural applications of AISI 310 is linked to high temperatures in nuclear reactors and thermoelectric plants, which usually also involves constant load conditions [2–5]. Continuously accumulated plastic deformations coupled with service at high temperatures characterize creep [6]. At the same time, phenomena such as hot corrosion, erosion and phase transformation severely affect the material resistance at high temperatures [7]. After the beginning of the creep deformation, unless the steel components are replaced, stress build-up over time and accelerates toward the stage III and fracture occurs [8].

Structural components operating at high temperatures are subjected to creep induced damage, involving mechanisms of nucleation, growth and coalescence of creep cavities and also from the enhanced microstructural degradation by coarsening of precipitates and dislocation substructure under stress [9,10]. In general, some basic types of damage can occur in room temperature ductile alloys, such as AISI 310, subjected to high temperature conditions: dimples (microcavities), wedge cavities, lenticular cavities and pores [7,11,12].

Generally, structural components are designed based on uniaxial creep data. However, when materials are used as component of a structure, a multiaxial stress field appears due to the plastic constraint, geometrical discontinuities, change in geometry, heterogeneous microstructure (weld joint) and also due to the mode of loading during service [13,14]. The multiaxial stress is known to decrease the ductility of materials by means of a phenomenon called “Structural Brittleness” [15,16]. The creep fracture behavior of a material under multiaxial loading is influenced by its stress components, namely, maximum principal stress, hydrostatic stress and von-Mises stress. Where: (i) von-Mises stress controls the deformation and creep cavity nucleation processes; while (ii) hydrostatic stress controls the continuum cavity growth; and (iii) the maximum principal stress is associated with the directed diffusion controlled intergranular cavity growth [17].

Various techniques have been developed to test the materials under multiaxial creep conditions at laboratory scale: thin-walled pipes subjected to axial load and torque, tubes under internal pressure, two- and three-dimensional cruciform specimens subjected to axial forces and notched specimens subjected to axial force [18]. Earlier it was more common the use of cylindrical notched specimens, but after the revision of the ASTM E1457:“Measurement of Creep Crack Growth Rates in Metals” Standard (ASTM E1457) [19] in 2013, double edge notch specimen has been introduced and started to be used to simulate the formation of multiaxial stress field in the structure [20–22]. Today, the analysis of fracture and damage propagation using this type of specimen is fundamental to characterize, with greater similarity, the conditions of formation of multiaxiality in the specimen and establish a relationship with uniaxial creep life for the design of components.

Besides experimental studies and theoretical discussions, it is extremely important to be able to translate them into equations that can describe the material under the operational variables. For this purpose, methods for predicting the life (onset of fracture) of the components in their various working conditions are established. Authors such as Yokobori Jr. et al. [23]; and Yokobori Jr. and Yokobori [24], proposed their own equations for predicting the material's remnant life, based on parametric terms expressed by independent variables such as applied stress, crack length, temperature, etc.

Based on these assertions, the main objective of the present work is to investigate the creep deformation and fracture mechanisms as well as the propagation of the damage, experimentally observed in AISI 310 steel tested under different stress conditions and temperatures. It is part of this objective, to analyze the time to rupture, the deformation caused in the material and the fracture surface. Also, to evaluate the service life of the material by the Q* parameter [24].

2Materials and methods

For the development of this work, specimens were made from type AISI 310 austenitic stainless-steel sheets supplied by the Aperan steel company. The 310 steel nominal chemical composition and mechanical properties at room temperature are listed in Tables 1 and 2. The as received 310 steel is characterized by being hot rolled up to 4 mm thick, annealed at 1100 °C and pickled, exhibiting final grain size of about 22 µm.

Table 1.

Chemical composition AISI 310, by weight%.

AISI 310  Cr  Ni  Mo  Mn  Si  Cu  Grain size (µm) 
25Cr20Ni  0.051  25.280  19.073  0.112  1.456  0.528  0.025  0.0847  22 
ASTM A240 AISI 310 [25]  0.08  24–26  19–22  –  2 (max)  1.5 (max)  0.045 (max)  –  – 
Table 2.

Nominal mechanical properties of AISI 310 steel as received.

AISI 310  Yield stress (MPa)  Ultimate tensile stress (MPa)  Elongation (%)  Hardness (HRB) 
25Cr20Ni  302  536  49  84 
ASTM A240 AISI 310 [25]  >205  >515  >40  <95 

It was used the double edge notch (DEN) flat specimens with V-notch shaped with an angle of 30° and notch tip radius of 0.5 mm, adapted from ASTM E1457 [19]. Fig. 1 illustrates the dimensions of the specimens that were used in the creep tests. The samples were cut to 2 mm in thickness by wire electrical discharge machining from the as received sheets.

Fig. 1.

Geometry and dimensions of the DEN specimen used for the creep testing.


The creep tests were performed on an ATS 2300 series lever arm and open-air oven type equipment for Base Metal (BM) specimens under the stresses of 225, 160 and 100 MPa at the temperatures of 700, 675 and 650 °C until fracture. The temperature was controlled by Chromel-Alumel thermocouples and maintained within a range of ±2 °C.

After the creep rupture test, the fracture surfaces of the samples were observed by scanning electron microscope (SEM) in a Quanta FEG 250 FEI. These creep fractures were also compared with fractures obtained by tensile test at room temperature.

The Q* parameter was, for the first time, used to evaluate the crack growth rate in 310 steel, by considering that the crack growth phenomenon is a thermally activated stress dependent process [14,15,23]. The concept of Q* can be used in DEN specimens as a method of predicting crack growth time, given by Eq. (1)[24].


tf: crack growth life

A: constant

H: activation energy for creep crack growth [J/mol]

f (σ1): function of stress

σ1: local stress in the vicinity of the notch [MPa]

R: gas constant [J/ (K mol)]

T: absolute temperature [K]

Kin: stress intensity factor

n: exponent of stress

Using the concept of activation energy (ΔH), stress intensity factor (K) and exponent of stress (n), expressed in the Q* equation to characterize the creep crack growth time for the 310 steel, it is possible to relate the stress and the temperature by regressing the fracture times and equating new service conditions.

3Results and discussion

Experimental conditions and fracture times for each creep test are shown in Table 3. In this table only fracture times to be use in Eq. (1) are presented.

Table 3.

Test conditions and fracture time for AISI 310 steel.

100 MPa  160 MPa  225 MPa 
700 °C  tf = 140 h     
675 °C  tf = 311 h  tf = 22 h  tf = 2 h 
650 °C  tf = 1231 h     

The curves of creep strain versus normalized time (1/tf, tf = fracture time) of the tests conducted at 675 °C/225 MPa, 675 °C/160 MPa and 675 °C/100 MPa are shown in Fig. 2. From the curves in the figure, it is possible to observe that the stationary creep rate tends to increase, making the curve steeper as the test stress is increased. It can also be noted that as the test moves to the tertiary region the rate growth behaves in reverse, such as that while the 675 °C/225 MPa test has a near linear curve, the 675 °C/100 MPa test, has a rapid increase in the creep rate until specimen fracture. The results obtained by Shi and Northwood [26] for AISI 310 circular smooth specimens corroborate the results obtained in this work, in which the secondary strain rate increases as the stress also increases.

Fig. 2.

Creep curves of strain versus normalized time (1/tf) for AISI 310.


In addition, the creep curve of 675 °C/100 MPa (tf = 311 h) presented the lowest deformation rate and longer duration of its secondary stage. Unlike other tests at higher stress, 675 °C/225 MPa (tf = 2 h), where the curve is basically composed of primary and tertiary stages, having a narrow region of stationary deformation. Thus, as stress decreases, steady-state growth consists of most of the total creep crack life. As observed by Contin Jr. and Bueno [27], in circular smooth specimens tested at 700 °C, the loading significantly influenced the test time. However, as observed in this investigation the use of DEN specimens was more critical with representatively shorter fracture times. This could indicate that DEN specimens would represent a critical condition of use of this steel, as in pipes and reactors, since the notch induces the formation of multiaxial stress.

The activation energy for crack growth in the Q* concept is derived from the slope of the Arrhenius plots whose vertical axis is the inverse value of fracture time (1/tf) and the horizontal axis is the inverse of absolute temperature. The, activation energy describes the temperature dependence of crack growth life. The Arrhenius plots tend to be a linear graph, from which one can obtain a gradient line that relates activation energy and R constant.

The characterization of creep crack growth life of 310 steel was conducted on the basis of Q* concept. The corresponding Arrhenius plot is shown in Fig. 3.

Fig. 3.

Relationship between creep fracture time and temperature.


The stress intensity factor K, Eq. (2), for BM was calculated using experimental data. It was plotted the graph of K versus normalized time in Fig. 4, where it is possible to obtain a relationship as a gradient, which represents the Eq. (1) exponent “n” of Q*.


Fig. 4.

Relationship between normalized time for fracture and Kin.


σ: applied stress [MPa]

a: crack length [m]

F(α): form factor

With the graph relating normalized time to fracture and Q* calculated from experimental data, the values of gradient β and constant A are extrated from Eq.(1). With this new linear relationship, it is possible to correlate stress and temperature, and then characterize the time of fracture and thus simulate various hypothetical conditions. The linear regressions performed in the kinetic modeling presented a coefficient of determination (R²) greater than 0.99, which is a strong indication that the model reliably represents the creep behavior of the 310 steel. Table 4 shows that the calculated fracture time is in good agreement with the experimentally obtained time.

Table 4.

Relationship between calculated and experimental fracture times.

Stress (MPa)  Temperature (°C)  Kin  Q*  tf calculated (h)  tf experimental (h) 
100  650  2.19  −37.74  1878.62  1231 
100  700  2.19  −34.42  96.46  140 
100  675  2.15  −35.48  249.30  311 
160  675  3.44  −32.56  18.26  22 
225  675  4.94  −30.17  2.13 

According to Ennis [28], the new generation of steels for thermal power plants must be able to operate for 100,000 h under loads of 25–30 MPa at a maximum temperature of 650 °C. When performing this analysis using Q*, considering a working time of 100,000 h and temperature of 650 °C, a service load of 47.1 MPa was obtained, showing a great potential for the use of this steel in high temperature under constant load situations, as in thermoelectric plants.

Another point observed throughout this investigation was the fracture surface of the samples after the tensile and creep tests. It was possible to follow the change in the fracture mechanisms due to the variation of stress and time. Starting with the observation of the fracture surfaces of the tensile tests at room temperature (Ultimate Tensile Stress = 536 MPa), a completely ductile fracture was observed, with the clear formation of dimples and the cup-and-cone shape as shown in Fig. 5(a) and (e).

Fig. 5.

Fracture surfaces of 310 steel for: a) and e) Tensile test at ambient temperature, b) and f) Creep tested at 675 °C/225 MPa, c) and g) Creep tested at 675 °C/160 MPa, d) and h) Creep tested at 675 °C/100 MPa.


Regarding the creep tests, there was a change in the fracture mechanisms from ductile to brittle, since stainless steels undergo a time and temperature dependent embrittlement process, caused by the diffusion of thermally activated voids over a long period of time. Also, by observing the creep fracture surfaces, a transition was seen from a predominantly transgranular to a mostly intergranular fracture depending on the stress used in the test.

At 675 °C/225 MPa, the formation of an intergranular fracture region began, Fig. 5 (b), from both sides of the specimen (at the notches), forming a triangular region. These suggests that a notch-induced multiaxial stress acts on the regions and generates a localized load. In the central region of the fracture there was a mix of ductile and brittle fracture, characterized by the presence of dimples as well astransgranular fracture with cleavage, as shown in Fig. 5 (f). The presence of ductile fracture may be caused by the relatively short test period (tf = 2 h), which would limit the activation of creep deformation mechanisms.

In the sample at 675 °C/160 MPa, there is a characteristic brittle fracture, Fig. 5 (c), with a large predominance of transgranular fracture, Fig. 5 (g), but already with a relative growth of intergranular fracture in the notch region as compared to the 225 MPa test. In the sample at 675 °C/100 MPa, there is a substantial growth of the intergranular region, to the point of becoming prevalent, Fig. 5 (d), where the grain boundary participation is evident. It is then possible to observe microcracks and microcavities in these boundaries, as shown in Fig. 5 (h). In all creep test specimens, a layer of superficial oxide is observed, which was generated by the condition of the open-air oven type of equipment used for the creep test.

The formation of intergranular fracture in the notch region corroborates with the studies conducted by Goyal and Laha [29]. They performed computational simulations on the stress distribution at the notch tip, concluding that there was a stress concentration in this region. Since nucleation of creep intergranular cavities is controlled by the von-Mises stress criterion through plastic deformation [17], nucleation of creep cavities is expected to be concentrated in the notch tip. These authors also observed a higher principal stress along with a higher hydrostatic stress, which would lead to the growth of the nucleated cavities near the notch tip [29]. Since cavity growth by principal stress occurs by the diffusive transfer of material from the cavity surface to the grain boundary [30], it is expected that the appearance of the fracture surface will be intergranular at the notch tip, as observed in Fig. 5 (b), (c), (d) and (h).

Von-Mises criterion and principal stress distribution were computationally simulated in this work under 100 MPa and 675 °C conditions, Fig. 6 (a) and (b). A relative concentration of both stresses was observed at the notch tip, and radiate from it in a 45° projection. This was observed experimentally by the material rupture path itself, which will be further discussed in the lateral view analysis.

Fig. 6.

Computational simulation for uniaxial loading of the stress distribution, for 100 MPa and 675 °C condition in 310 steel DEN specimens: a) von-Mises stress and b) Principal stress.


When analyzing the lateral view of the fracture, an evolution of crack formation along the grain boundaries is observed in Fig. 7 (a), (b) and (c). Cracks were detected in the grain contours so that they did not penetrate inside them. Cracks propagated perpendicularly and parallel to the loading direction, although a higher number of cracks occurred at contours perpendicular to the loading axis, Fig. 7 (d), (e) and (f).

Fig. 7.

Lateral fracture surface, AISI 310 for: a) and d) Creep test at 675 °C/225 MPa, b) and e) Creep test at 675 °C/160 MPa, c) and f) Creep test at 675 °C/100 MPa.


Observing the fracture crack propagation from the lateral view, one notes its initiation at the notch tip, shown in Fig. 7 (f), since it behaves as a stress concentrator [31,32] which is also verified by computer simulation in Fig. 6. In this way, cracks tend to grow from the two notches in a 45° direction, until they meet in the central region of the specimen. This region is characteristic of creep fractures, in which several authors [20,29,31–33] discuss the formation of voids in the material along creep tests. These voids occurred from the notch and propagated in a diagonal direction from it, which would lead to a decrease in local resistance and facilitate crack propagation, being in good agreement with the finite element simulation performed by these authors. Indeed, they verified that the distribution of the multiaxial tension along the specimen occurs in this same direction.


Based on AISI 310 steel creep tests, a change in the characteristic regions of the strain versus creep time was observed. At lower loading stresses and consequently with lower creep rate, the stationary region represents most of the life of the material. As the stress increases, this region ceases to be dominant and is overwhelmed by the primary and tertiary regions.

The times up to fracture of the performed tests were consistent with Q* modeling, which indicates that there was no premature rupture of the specimens. By expanding the time prediction calculation for Q* fracture to a service life of 100,000 h at a temperature of 650 °C, a maximum operating stress of 47.1 MPa was obtained. This is in agreement with the values proposed by Ennis et al. [28] for the new thermoelectric boilers, whose minimum stress would be 25–30 MPa. Thus, the model showed a great potential in use of this steel in the new thermoelectric plants.

By analyzing the fracture surfaces of the creep specimens, it was observed that there was a transition of the fracture mechanisms, changing from a predominantly transgranular fracture, to a gradual growth of the intergranular fracture, mainly in the region located near the lateral notches. This also corroborates withthe idea that the notch acts as a region of multiaxial stress, in which the different stress fileds drive the formation of cavities in the grain boundaries, inducing intergranular fracture.

From the lateral observation of the fracture, the formation of cracks and microcracks along the grain contours occurred in the direction perpendicular to the loading direction. It was also noted an accumulation of voids and a tendency to form cavities and cracks in a 45° direction of the projection between the two notches, indicating a preferential path for crack propagation.

This idea of an AISI 310 steel using notched flat specimens can be a novel concept to calculate critical stress and temperature conditions with more accuracy. By doing so, it simulates a real industrial plant under creep conditions. It was obtained a more reliable life prediction curves that, in conjunction with the fracture surface analyses, provide better indication of the material behavior. Important data was collected to broaden the knowledge of this austenitic stainless steel, application in new modern thermoelectric and nuclear plants.

Declaration of interests

The authors declare that they have no known competing financial interests or personal relationships that could have appeared to influence the work reported in this paper.


The authors thank the support to this investigation by the Brazilian agencies: CNPq, CAPES and FAPERJ.

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