Zirconium alloys are of critical importance to the nuclear power industry due to their combination of good mechanical properties, corrosion resistance in high temperature water and good neutronic properties – particularly important in the very high neutron fluxes of a reactor. The plastic and creep deformation of zirconium alloys thus has important technological applications, both in the deformation of components in the reactor itself – and hence predicting the safe life of existing reactors – and also in the optimisation of materials to be produced for the next reactor generation. The present study incorporates a comprehensive set of in-situ loading experiments on zirconium alloys exploring the relative contributions of different micromechanical deformation modes (different types of dislocation slip, and twinning) to the overall deformation. Comparisons of neutron diffraction data from ENGIN-X with theoretical models have – for the first time – given quantitative assessments of the relative importance of the interaction between these different modes. This information will feed into future models predicting the lifetime of components in the reactor.
F Xu, R Holt, MR Daymond (Queen's University, Canada), R Rogge (NRC Chalk River, USA) EC Oliver (ISIS)
Research date: December 2006
Dr MR Daymond, [firstname.lastname@example.org] F Xu et al., Acta Materialia (2006, submitted)