Volume 1, Issue 4 (April 2004)
Surprisingly Large Generation and Retention of Helium and Hydrogen in Pure Nickel Irradiated at High Temperatures and High Neutron Exposures
Hydrogen and helium measurements in pure nickel irradiated to 100 dpa in HFIR at temperatures between 300 and 600°C show higher gas concentrations than predicted from fast-neutron reactions and the two-step 58Ni(n,γ)59Ni (n,p and n,α) reactions. This additional gas production suggests previously unidentified nuclear sources of helium and possibly hydrogen that assert themselves at very high neutron exposure. The elevated hydrogen measurements are especially surprising since it is generally accepted that hydrogen is very mobile in nickel at elevated temperatures and therefore is easily lost, never reaching large concentrations. However, it appears that relatively large hydrogen concentrations can be reached and retained for many years after irradiation at reactor-relevant temperatures. These new effects may have a significant impact on the performance of nickel-bearing alloys at high neutron fluences in both fission and fusion reactor irradiations.