The circumferential hydrides normally present in nuclear reactor fuel cladding after reactor exposure may dissolve during drying for dry storage and re-precipitate when cooled under load into a more radial orientation, which could embrittle the fuel cladding. It is necessary to study the rates and conditions under which hydride reorientation may happen in order to assess fuel integrity in dry storage. The objective of this work is to study the effect of applied stress and thermal cycling on the hydride morphology in cold-worked stress-relieved Zircaloy-4 by combining conventional metallography and in situ X-ray diffraction techniques. Metallography is used to study the evolution of hydride morphology after several thermo-mechanical cycles. In situ X-ray diffraction performed at the Advanced Photon Source synchrotron provides real-time information on the process of hydride dissolution and precipitation under stress during several thermal cycles. The detailed study of diffracted intensity, peak position and full-width at half-maximum provides information on precipitation kinetics, elastic strains and other characteristics of the hydride precipitation process. The results show that thermo-mechanical cycling significantly increases the radial hydride fraction as well as the hydride length and connectivity. The radial hydrides are observed to precipitate at a lower temperature than circumferential hydrides. Variations in the magnitude and range of hydride strains due to reorientation and cycling have also been observed. These results are discussed in light of existing models and experiments on hydride reorientation. The study of hydride elastic strains during precipitation shows marked differences between circumferential and radial hydrides, which can be used to investigate the reorientation process.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Nuclear and High Energy Physics
- Materials Science(all)
- Nuclear Energy and Engineering