Characterization of hydrides and delayed hydride cracking in zirconium alloys

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Fang, Qiang
DHC , Hydride
This thesis tries to fill some of the missing gaps in the study of zirconium hydrides with state-of-art experiments, cutting edge tomographical technique, and a novel numerical algorithm. A new hydriding procedure is proposed. The new anode material and solution combination overcomes many drawbacks of the AECL hydriding method and leads to superior hydriding result compared to the AECL hydriding procedure. The DHC crack growth velocity of as-received Excel alloy and Zr-2.5Nb alloy together with several different heat treated Excel alloy samples are measured. While it already known that the DHC crack growth velocity increases with the increase of base metal strength, the finding that the transverse plane is the weaker plane for fatigue crack growth despite having higher resistance to DHC crack growth was unexpected. The morphologies of hydrides in a coarse grained Zircally-2 sample have been studied using synchrotron x-ray’s at ESRF with a new technique called Diffraction Contrast Tomography that uses simultaneous collection of tomographic data and diffraction data to determine the crystallographic orientation of crystallites (grains) in 3D. It has been previously limited to light metals such as Al or Mg (due to the use of low energy x-rays). Here we show the first DCT measurements using high energy x-rays (60 keV), allowing measurements in zirconium. A new algorithm of a computationally efficient way to characterize distributions of hydrides - in particular their orientation and/or connectivity - has been proposed. It is a modification of the standard Hough transform, which is an extension of the Hough transform widely used in the line detection of EBSD patterns Finally, a basic model of hydrogen migration is built using ABAQUS, which is a mature finite element package with tested modeling modules of a variety of physical laws. The coupling of hydrogen diffusion, lattice expansion, matrix deformation and phase transformation is investigated under striation crack growth conditions. The result is a progress in applying diffusion of H and crack propagation within a commercial finite element package.
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