The optimization of zirconium-based alloys used for nuclear fuel cladding aims to reduce hydrogen pickup during operation, and the associated cladding degradation. The present study focuses on precisely and accurately measuring hydrogen pickup fraction for a set of alloys to specifically investigate the effects of alloying elements, microstructure and corrosion kinetics on hydrogen uptake. To measure hydrogen concentrations in zirconium alloys two techniques have been used: a destructive technique, Vacuum Hot Extraction, and a non-destructive one, Cold Neutron Prompt Gamma Activation Analysis. The results of both techniques show that hydrogen pickup fraction varies significantly with exposure time and between alloys. A possible interpretation of the results is that hydrogen pickup results from the need to balance charge. That is, the pickup of hydrogen shows an inverse relationship to oxidation kinetics, indicating that, if transport of charged species is rate limiting, oxide transport properties such as oxide electronic conductivity play a key role in the hydrogen pickup mechanism. Alloying elements (either in solid solution or in precipitates) would therefore impact the hydrogen pickup fraction by affecting charge transport.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Nuclear and High Energy Physics
- Materials Science(all)
- Nuclear Energy and Engineering