Investigating liquid-metal embrittlement of T91 steel by fracture toughness tests

    Research outputpeer-review


    Heavy liquid metals such as lead bismuth eutectic (LBE) are chosen as the coolant to innovative Generation IV (Gen IV) reactors where ferritic/martensitic T91 steel is a candidate material for high temperature applications. It is known that LBE has a degrading effect on the mechanical properties of this steel. This degrading effect, which is known as liquid metal embrittlement (LME), has been screened by several tests such as tensile and small punch tests, and was most severe in the temperature range from 300 °C to 425 °C. To meet the design needs, mechanical properties such as fracture toughness should be addressed by corresponding tests. For this reason liquid-metal embrittlement of T91 steel was investigated by fracture toughness tests at 350 °C. Tests were conducted in Ar-5%H2 and LBE under the same experimental conditions Tests in Ar-5%H2 were used as reference. The basic procedure in the ASTM E 1820 standard was followed to perform tests and the normalization data reduction (NDR) method was used for the analysis. Comparison of the tests demonstrated that the elastic–plastic fracture toughness (J1C) of the material was reduced by a factor in LBE and the fracture mode changed from ductile to quasi-cleavage. It was also shown that the pre-cracking environment played an important role in observing LME of the material since it impacts the contact conditions between LBE and steel at the crack tip. It was demonstrated that when specimens were pre-cracked in air and tested in LBE, wetting of the crack surface by LBE could not be achieved. When specimens were pre-cracked in LBE though, they showed a significant reduction in fracture toughness.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)171-177
    Number of pages7
    JournalJournal of Nuclear Materials
    StatePublished - 15 Apr 2016

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