Impact of neutron irradiation on mechanical performance of FeCrAl alloy laser-beam weldments


Oxidation-resistant iron-chromium-aluminum (FeCrAl) alloys demonstrate better performance in Loss-of-Coolant Accidents, compared with austenitic- and zirconium-based alloys. However, further deployment of FeCrAl-based materials requires detailed characterization of their performance under irradiation; moreover, since welding is one of the key operations in fabrication of light water reactor fuel cladding, FeCrAl alloy weldment performance and properties also should be determined prior to and after irradiation. Here, advanced C35M alloy (Fe-13%Cr-5%Al) and variants with aluminum (+2%) or titanium carbide (+1%) additions were characterized after neutron irradiation in Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s High Flux Isotope Reactor at 1.8–1.9 dpa in a temperature range of 195–559 °C. Specimen sets included as-received (AR) materials and specimens after controlled laser-beam welding. Tensile tests with digital image correlation (DIC), scanning electron microscopy-electron back scatter diffraction analysis, fractography, and x-ray tomography analysis were performed. DIC allowed for investigating local yield stress in the weldments, deformation hardening behavior, and plastic anisotropy. Both AR and welded material revealed a high degree of radiation-induced hardening for low-temperature irradiation; however, irradiation at high-temperatures (i.e., 559 °C) had little overall effect on the mechanical performance.

In: Journal of Nuclear Materials, (504), pp. 221–233,