P91 steel has been of interest to many researchers over the past two decades. This interest is because this steel has very interesting characteristics for application in power plants, where it is common to have pipes that need to support steam at temperatures between 570 and 600 °C, and at pressures in the range of 170 to 230 bar. These working conditions are quite severe for most common steels, requiring increased high-temperature mechanical strength as well as high creep resistance. The manufacture of these pipes normally includes welding operations, which must preserve the main characteristics of this type of steel. This justifies the concern of the researchers to ensure the best welding conditions so that the preservation of the properties of these steels becomes possible. The present work intends to depict the best results obtained varying the heat-treatment conditions applied to weldments made on heat-resistant steel P91. This steel usually takes the designation SA 213 T91 (seamless tube) or SA 335 P91 (seamless pipe), according to ASME II, as well as the designation X10CrMOVNb9-1 according to EN 10216-2. The purpose of this study is to compare the behavior of pipe welding under different post-welding heat-treatment (PWHT) conditions. One of them is performed with thermal cycles (preheating, post-heating, and the post-weld heat treatment) in agreement with most construction codes and standard rules. The second one is performed without any thermal cycle before and after welding. Both welds were made by the same process, TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas, or GTAW—Gas Tungsten Arc Welding) in the horizontal position (2G according to ASME IX) and the same welding parameters. In order to evaluate the results obtained in the welds, microstructure analyses, hardness measurements, bending tests, and tensile tests at room and high temperature (600 °C) have been performed. Other tests were also carried out according to the quality procedures, such as visual, penetrant dye, and X-ray tests. Regarding the different strategies used in the heat treatments, the best results have been obtained using a strategy similar to the one currently in use and recommended by construction codes and steel manufacturers but excluding the phases’ transformation time, and it was possible to observe that the tensile strength is impaired by about 2% to 9% at room and elevated temperatures, respectively; the elongation is reduced by 39% at room temperature but keeps a good performance at elevated temperature; the hardness profile is very similar at both temperatures; the microstructure presented is compatible with the requirements; and no cracking trend has been reported. Thus, a new strategy for the welding heat treatment of grade 91 steels was drawn, saving energy and processing time.
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