A combined APT and SANS investigation of $\alpha$′ phase precipitation in neutron-irradiated model FeCrAl alloys


FeCrAl alloys are currently under consideration for accident-tolerant fuel cladding applications in light water reactors owing to their superior high-temperature oxidation and corrosion resistance compared to the Zr-based alloys currently employed. However, their performance could be limited by precipitation of a Cr-rich $\alpha$′ phase that tends to embrittle high-Cr ferritic Fe-based alloys. In this study, four FeCrAl model alloys with 10–18 at.% Cr and 5.8–9.3 at.% Al were neutron-irradiated to nominal damage doses up to 7.0 displacements per atom at a target temperature of 320 °C. Small angle neutron scattering techniques were coupled with atom probe tomography to assess the composition and morphology of the resulting $\alpha$′ precipitates. It was demonstrated that Al additions partially destabilize the $\alpha$′ phase, generally resulting in precipitates with lower Cr contents when compared with binary Fe-Cr systems. The precipitate morphology evolution with dose exhibited a transient coarsening regime akin to previously observed behavior in aged Fe-Cr alloys. Similar behavior to predictions of the LSW/UOKV models suggests that $\alpha$′ precipitation in irradiated FeCrAl is a diffusion-limited process with coarsening mechanisms similar to those in thermally aged high-Cr ferritic alloys.

In: Acta Materialia, (129), pp. 217–228, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.actamat.2017.02.077