Volume 8, Issue 1 (January 2011)
Statistical Analysis of Hydride Reorientation Properties in Irradiated Zircaloy-2
The orientation of hydrides in fuel cladding determines the anisotropic fracture behavior of Zircaloy and the failure modes of cladding tubes. Approach coupling experiments using the cladding tube deformation test and finite element analysis have successfully led to the quantification of the stress influencing reorientation of hydrides in unirradiated samples. An improved version of this procedure was applied to six samples of irradiated Zircaloy-2 from two different rods with three classes of thermo-mechanical loading. It was found that at medium maximum temperature, when no more than half of the hydrides were dissolved, the mechanical loading showed no measurable effect. When most of the hydrides were dissolved, the orientation and location of the hydrides depended strongly on the mechanical loading: The hydrides spatial location followed the hoop tensile stress. When the number of loading cycles was raised, the fraction of radial hydrides increased even for very low hoop tensile stress. The inner side of the cladding showed a marked depletion of hydrides whatever the size of the hoop stress. Since our test setup involved a tri-axial stress state, the possible influence of the other components of the stress tensor was evaluated. Through the use of a classical nucleation law, it was shown that for our test setup, the hoop stress was the important mechanical quantity. Therefore, the inner side depletion of hydrides may be attributed to three other factors: Residual stress, a memory effect, and a pumping effect by the inner liner.