The presence of sulfur at an impurity level in heat resistant steels could improve remarkably the steam oxidation resistance. As is well known, sulfur tends to form sulfides, in particular, chromium sulfides when the steel contains chromium. Therefore, there are two possibilities of sulfur states in the steel. One is in atomic sulfur state as a solid solution, and the other is in sulfide state as a precipitate. However, it still remains unclear which sulfur state contributes largely to the improvement of the steam oxidation resistance of the steels. In order to elucidate the sulfur state operated more effectively in improving the oxidation resistance, the steam oxidation resistance was investigated with high chromium ferritic steels, Fe-10mass%Cr-0.08mass%C-(0~0.015)mass%S, with controlling the sulfur states in them by proper heat treatments. From a series of experiments, it was found that the sulfide state played a more important role in improving the steam oxidation resistance than the atomic sulfur state. Furthermore, this sulfur effect worked significantly in the steam oxidation test performed at the temperatures above 873K which corresponded to the temperature for the chromium sulfide to dissolve and instead for the chromium oxide to form in the steels. This result indicates that the beneficial effect of sulfur in improving the steam oxidation resistance is related closely to the sulfide stability against the oxide in the steels.

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