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Effect of Copper on Microstructure and Mechanical Properties of Construction Steel

Authors: Olatunde I. Sekunowo, Stephen I. Durowaye, Oluwashina P. Gbenebor


Copper being one of the major intrinsic residual impurities in steel possesses the tendency to induce severe microstructural distortions if not controlled within certain limits. Hence, this paper investigates the effect of this element on the mechanical properties of construction steel with a view to ascertain its safe limits for effective control. The experiment entails collection of statistically scheduled samples of hot rolled profiles with varied copper concentrations in the range of 0.12-0.39 wt. %. From these samples were prepared standard test specimens subjected to tensile, impact, hardness and microstructural analyses. Results show a rather huge compromise in mechanical properties as the specimens demonstrated 54.3%, 74.2% and 64.9% reduction in tensile strength, impact energy and hardness respectively as copper content increases from 0.12 wt. % to 0.39 wt. %. The steel’s abysmal performance is due to the severe distortion of the microstructure occasioned by the development of incoherent complex compounds which weaken the pearlite reinforcing phase. It is concluded that the presence of copper above 0.22 wt. % is deleterious to construction steel performance.

Keywords: Construction steel, mechanical properties, processing method, trace elements.

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