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Co–Re alloys are being developed for ultra-high-temperature applications to supplement Ni-based superalloys in future gas turbines. The main goal of the alloy development is to increase the maximum service temperature of the alloy beyond 1473 K, i.e. at least 100 K more than the present single-crystal Ni-based superalloy turbine blades. Co–Re alloys are strengthened by carbide phases, particularly the monocarbide of Ta. The binary TaC phase is stable at very high temperatures, much greater than the melting temperature of superalloys and Co–Re alloys. However, its stability within the Co–Re–Cr system has never been studied systematically. In this study an alloy with the composition Co–17Re–23Cr–1.2Ta–2.6C was investigated using complementary methods of small-angle neutron scattering (SANS), scanning electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction and neutron diffraction. Samples heat treated externally and samples heated in situ during diffraction experiments exhibited stable TaC precipitates at temperatures up to 1573 K. The size and volume fraction of fine TaC precipitates (up to 100 nm) were characterized at high temperatures with in situ SANS measurements. Moreover, SANS was used to monitor precipitate formation during cooling from high temperatures. When the alloy is heated the matrix undergoes an allotropic phase transformation from the [epsilon] phase (hexagonal close-packed) to the γ phase (face-centred cubic), and the influence on the strengthening TaC precipitates was also studied with in situ SANS. The results show that the TaC phase is stable and at these high temperatures the precipitates coarsen but still remain. This makes the TaC precipitates attractive and the Co–Re alloys a promising candidate for high-temperature application.

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