Oxygen, Hydrogen and Main Alloying Chemical Elements Partitioning Upon Alpha←→Beta Phase Transformation in Zirconium Alloys
Due to their adequate properties, zirconium alloys are the reference materials for the nuclear fuel cladding tubes of Light Water Reactors (LWR). During some hypothetical accidental High Temperature (HT) transients, the materials should experience heavy steam oxidation and deep metallurgical evolutions. This promotes Alpha-Beta phase transformations and an associated strong partitioning of oxygen/hydrogen and of the main chemical alloying elements (Nb, Sn, Fe and Cr). Moreover, it has been shown quite recently that such chemical elements partitioning during on-cooling Beta-to-Alpha transformation can strongly impact the residual mechanical properties of HT oxidized materials. Thus, it appeared that it was important to better quantify and, if possible, to compute the quite complex phase equilibrium that occurs in multi-alloyed zirconium materials in the presence of both oxygen and hydrogen. For that, systematic studies have been performed on industrial alloys, charged with oxygen and/or hydrogen. After applying different heating/cooling scenarii, both Electron Microprobe using Wave Dispersive Spectrometry (WDS) and Nuclear Microprobe using Elastic Recoil Detection Analysis (ERDA) have been applied. Finally, to support the observed chemical elements partitioning between the Alpha and Beta allotropic phases, some thermodynamic calculations have been performed thanks to the development and the use of a specific thermodynamic database for zirconium alloys called “Zircobase".
Yves Bréchet, Emmanuel Clouet, Alexis Deschamps, Alphonse Finel and Frédéric Soisson
J. C. Brachet et al., "Oxygen, Hydrogen and Main Alloying Chemical Elements Partitioning Upon Alpha←→Beta Phase Transformation in Zirconium Alloys", Solid State Phenomena, Vols. 172-174, pp. 753-759, 2011