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Mechanical Properties of Advanced Gas-Cooled Reactor Stainless Steel Cladding After Irradiation

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>05/2018
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Materials Engineering and Performance
Issue number5
Number of pages8
Pages (from-to)2081-2088
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date9/04/18
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The production of helium bubbles in advanced gas-cooled reactor (AGR) cladding could represent a significant hazard for both the mechanical stability and long-term storage of such materials. However, the high radioactivity of AGR cladding after operation presents a significant barrier to the scientific study of the mechanical properties of helium incorporation, said cladding typically being analyzed in industrial hot cells. An alternative non-active approach is to implant He2+ into unused AGR cladding material via an accelerator. Here, a feasibility study of such a process, using sequential implantations of helium in AGR cladding steel with decreasing energy is carried out to mimic the buildup of He (e.g., 50 appm) that would occur for in-reactor AGR clad in layers of the order of 10 µm in depth, is described. The implanted sample is subsequently analyzed by scanning electron microscopy, nanoindentation, atomic force and ultrasonic force microscopies. As expected, the irradiated zones were affected by implantation damage (< 1 dpa). Nonetheless, such zones undergo only nanoscopic swelling and a small hardness increase (~ 10%), with no appreciable decrease in fracture strength. Thus, for this fluence and applied conditions, the integrity of the steel cladding is retained despite He2+ implantation.