Cobalt-based alloys such as Stellite 3 and Stellite 6 are widely used to protect stainless steel surfaces in primary circuit nuclear reactor applications where high resistance to wear and corrosion are required. In this study, self-mated sliding wear of Stellite 3 and Stellite 6 consolidated by hot isostatic pressing were compared. Tests were performed with a pin-on-disc apparatus enclosed in a water-submerged autoclave environment and wear was measured from room temperature up to 250 °C (a representative pressurized water reactor environment). Both alloys exhibit a microstructure of micron-sized carbides embedded in a cobalt-rich matrix. Stellite 3 (higher tungsten and carbon content) contains M7C3 and an eta (η) -carbide whereas Stellite 6 contains only M7C3. Furthermore, the former has a significantly higher carbide volume fraction and hardness than the latter. Both alloys show a significant increase in the wear rate as the temperature is increased but Stellite 3 has a higher wear resistance over the entire range; at 250 °C the wear rate of Stellite 6 is more than five times that of Stellite 3. There is only a minimal formation of a transfer layer on the sliding surfaces but electron backscatter diffraction on cross-sections through the wear scar revealed that wear causes partial transformation of the cobalt matrix from fcc to hcp in both alloys over the entire temperature range. It is proposed that the acceleration of wear with increasing temperature in the range studied is associated with a tribocorrosion mechanism and that the higher carbide fraction in Stellite 3 resulted in its reduced wear rate compared to Stellite 6.
- Cobalt-based alloys
- Electron backscatter diffraction