Characterization of IASCC crack tips extracted from neutron-irradiated flux thimble tube specimens in view of a probabilistic fracture model

Aäron Penders, Milan Konstantinovic, Wouter Van Renterghem, Rik-Wouter Bosch, Dominique Schryvers, Frédéric Somville

Research outputpeer-review


This study reports the properties of irradiation assisted stress corrosion crack tips extracted by means of focused-ion beam from 60 to 80 dpa neutron-irradiated O-ring specimens tested under straining con- ditions under a pressurized-water reactor environment. Various crack tip morphologies and surrounding deformation features were analyzed as a function of applied stress, surface oxidation state and loading form - constant versus cyclic. All investigated cracks exhibit grain boundary oxidation in front of the crack tip, with the extent of oxidation being proportional to applied stress. These findings clearly demon- strate that, under the subcritical crack propagation regime, the grain boundary oxide grows faster than the crack. On the other hand, crack tips appertaining to specimens with removed oxide layer at the outer surface show comparatively less oxidation at the crack tip, which could indicate towards crack initia- tion from regions that exemplify lower stress, such as the O-ring inner surface. Cyclic loading is found to have a more pronounced effect on the crack tip microstructure, demonstrating increased deforma- tion twinning and α -martensitic transformation, which signifies towards an increased susceptibility to intergranular failure. Still, the extent of crack tip grain boundary oxidation in this case agrees well with expected values for maximum stress applied during cyclic loading. All results are interpreted based on the probabilistic subcritical crack propagation mechanism and provide strong support to a stress-driven internal oxidation model.
Original languageEnglish
Article number154015
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Nuclear Materials
StatePublished - 6 Sep 2022

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