The ability to predict the sizes of secondary and tertiary γ′ precipitate is of particular importance for the development and use of polycrystalline nickel-based superalloys in demanding applications, since the size of the precipitate exerts a strong effect on the mechanical properties. Many studies have been devoted to the development and application of sophisticated numerical models that incorporate the influence of chemical composition, concentration gradients, and interfacial properties on precipitate size and morphology. In the present study, we choose a different approach, concentrating on identifying a correlation between the mean secondary and tertiary γ′ size and the cooling rate from solution treatment temperature. The data are collected using the precipitate size distribution analysis from high-resolution scanning electron microscopy. This correlation is expressed in the form of a power law, established using experimental measurement data and rationalized using a re-derivation of McLean’s theory for precipitate growth, based on well-established thermodynamic principles. Specifically, McLean’s model is recast to consider the effect of cooling rate. The derived model captures the correlation correctly despite its simplicity, and is able to predict the mean secondary and tertiary γ′ precipitate size in a nickel superalloy, without complex modeling.
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