Powder HIP of pure Nb and C-103 alloy: the influence of powder characteristics on mechanical properties

Alessandro Sergi, Raja H.U. Khan, Konstantinos Georgilas, Martina Meisnar, Advenit Makaya, Moataz M. Attallah*

*Corresponding author for this work

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In this work, pure Nb processed by Powder Metallurgy Hot Isostatic Pressing (PM HIP) was investigated as a potential alternative to C-103 Nb-based alloy for the manufacture of near-net-shape thruster combustion chambers. Three Nb powders with varied particle size range (fine, mid-range and coarse) and C-103 powder were investigated to understand the differences in particle size distribution (PSD), morphology and oxygen (O) content present in the alloy chemistry. The as-HIPed microstructures of pure Nb and C-103 are characterised by a near to fully dense microstructure and the absence of PPBs. Microstructural analyses performed on pure Nb highlighted the influence of particle size on the average as-HIPed grain size. Additionally, it was observed that O content plays a crucial role in the microhardness of pure Nb. Tensile tests performed on Nb mid-range and on Nb mid-range sieved showed that a simple sieve operation was effective in increasing the strength of the material while maintaining good levels of elongation. Alternatively, it was also demonstrated that pure Nb powder heat treatment can be regarded as an effective way to increase the O levels in pure Nb powders as witnessed by the high hardness levels. On the other hand, as-HIPed C-103 powder showed superior tensile properties if compared to the minimum specifications for wrought C-103. Finally, to summarise, the work performed on pure Nb, a simple structure-property relation model was developed to predict the YS of pure Nb based on the O levels and grain size of the as-HIPed microstructure.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105803
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Refractory Metals and Hard Materials
Early online date8 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded by the European Space Agency ( ESA) in the frame of the General Studies Technology Programme (ESA GSTP ITT 8899) under contract 4000122901/18/NL/BJ. The work was enabled through, and undertaken at, the National Structural Integrity Research Centre (NSIRC) , a postgraduate engineering facility for industry-led research into structural integrity established and managed by TWI through a network of both national and international universities. AS acknowledges the Centre of Doctoral Training in Innovative Metal Processing (IMPaCT) , funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) for the PhD funding support.


  • Mechanical properties
  • Microstructure
  • Oxygen levels
  • Powder characteristics
  • Powder Metallurgy Hot Isostatic Pressing (PM HIP)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Metals and Alloys
  • Materials Chemistry


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