In this work, three low-carbon bainitic steels, with different Mo contents, were designed to investigate the effects of Mo addition on microstructure and mechanical properties. Two-step cooling, i.e., initial accelerated cooling and subsequent slow cooling, was used to obtain the desired bainite microstructure. The results show that the product of strength and elongation first increases and then shows no significant change with increasing Mo. Compared with Mo-free steel, bainite in the Mo-containing steel tends to have a lath-like morphology due to a decrease in the bainitic transformation temperature. More martensite transformation occurs with the increasing Mo, resulting in greater hardness of the steel. Both the strength and elongation of the steel can be enhanced by Mo addition; however, the elongation may decrease with a further increase in Mo. From a practical viewpoint, the content of Mo could be ~0.14 wt. % for the composition design of low-carbon bainitic steels in the present work. To be noted, an optimal scheme may need to consider other situations such as the role of sheet thickness, toughness behavior and so on, which could require changes in the chemistry. Nevertheless, these results provide a reference for the composition design and processing method of low-carbon bainitic steels.
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