A detailed study was undertaken of oxides formed in 360 °C water on four Zr-based alloys (Zircaloy-4, ZIRLO™, ZIRLO is a trademark of Westinghouse Electric Co.1 Zr-2.5%Nb and Zr-2.5%Nb-0.5%Cu) in an effort to relate oxide structure to corrosion performance. Micro-beam X-ray diffraction was used along with transmitted light optical microscopy to obtain information about the structure of these oxides as a function of distance from the oxide-metal interface. Optical microscopy revealed a layered oxide structure in which the average layer thickness was inversely proportional to the post-transition corrosion rate. The detailed diffraction studies showed an oxide that contained both tetragonal and monoclinic ZrO2, with a higher fraction of tetragonal oxide near the oxide-metal interface, in a region roughly corresponding to one oxide layer. Evidence was seen also of a cyclic variation of the tetragonal and monoclinic oxide across the oxide thickness with a period of the layer thickness. The results also indicate that the final grain size of the tetragonal phase is smaller than that of the monoclinic phase and the monoclinic grain size is smaller in Zircaloy-4 and ZIRLO than in the other two alloys. These results are discussed in terms of a model of oxide growth based on the periodic breakdown and reconstitution of a protective layer.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Nuclear and High Energy Physics
- Materials Science(all)
- Nuclear Energy and Engineering