SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 1960

Effect of Oxygen and Nitrogen on Workability and Mechanical Properties of Columbium


Currently, considerable effort is being devoted to the development of columbium-base alloys for high-temperature structural applications. Because of its high melting point (2468 C), intermediate density (8.57 g per cu cm), generally good ductility, attractive high-temperature strength, and low ductile-brittle transition range, columbium has considerable potential as a base for high-temperature alloys. One of the difficulties associated with the melting, processing, and application of columbium is its reactivity with atmospheric gases, even at moderately elevated temperatures. The workability and mechanical properties of the metal are seriously affected by the gaseous impurity level. The work described in this paper was undertaken to provide data concerning the effect of oxygen and nitrogen additions on the hardness, workability, strain hardening characteristics, and recrystallization behavior of columbium. The solid solubility of oxygen in columbium is quite high compared to that of most of the other refractory metals. Seybolt [1] reported the primary solid solubility to be 0.25 and 1.0 per cent by weight at 775 and 1100 C respectively. Recent work by Elliott [2] indicates a solubility of 0.25 per cent by weight of oxygen at 500 C, and a maximum solubility of 0.72 per cent by weight at 1915 C. Three oxides, CbO, CbO2, and Cb2O5, exist in the system. A eutectic reaction occurs between the α-columbium primary solid solution and CbO at 10.5 per cent by weight of oxygen and 1915 C. Oxygen has a pronounced effect on the room temperature hardness and tensile properties of columbium. Tottle [3] has reported that increasing the oxygen content of columbium from 0.03 to 0.41 per cent by weight raises the ultimate tensile strength from 41,000 to 131,250 psi, and the hardness from 87 to 331 diamond pyramid hardness. Several investigators [4,5,6] have observed repeated yielding and the return of the yield point on aging in columbium, which are indicative of strain aging. Earlier work by the authors [6] indicated that oxygen was the interstitial element responsible for the observed strain-aging phenomena.

Author Information

Begley, R.
Westinghouse Research Laboratories, Pittsburgh, Pa.
France, L.
Westinghouse Research Laboratories, Pittsburgh, Pa.
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Developed by Committee: B02
Pages: 56–67
DOI: 10.1520/STP46329S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-6780-3
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-6577-9