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    Is Spent Nuclear Fuel Immune from Delayed Hydride Cracking during Dry Storage? An IAEA Coordinated Research Project

    Published: 2018

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    Delayed hydride cracking (DHC) has been responsible for cracking in zirconium alloy pressure tubes and fuel cladding and is a concern for spent fuel storage. For cracking to start, sufficient hydrogen must be present for hydride to form at a flaw tip and the local tensile stress must be sufficiently large to crack the hydride (a crack will not extend if the threshold in the stress intensity factor, KIH, is not exceeded. A high-temperature limit exists when the yield stress of the cladding alloy becomes too low to crack the hydride. In this paper we describe measurements of KIH and the crack growth rate, V, in unirradiated Zircaloy-4 fuel cladding containing approximately 130 ppm hydrogen in the cold-worked stress–relieved condition representing pressurized water reactors (PWRs) and pressurized heavy-water (PHWR) reactors. Four methods are used to evaluate KIH. The test specimen and fixture used in these methods was the pin-loading tension configuration. The test temperature ranged from 227 to 315°C. The mean value of KIH below 280°C had little temperature dependence; it was about 5.5 MPa√m in the PWR cladding and slightly higher at 7 MPa√m in the PHWR material. At higher test temperatures, KIH increased dramatically to more than 12 MPa√m, whereas the crack growth rate declined toward zero. This behavior suggests that unirradiated Zircaloy-4 fuel cladding is immune from DHC above about 320°C; this temperature may be increased to 360°C by irradiation. The implications for spent fuel storage are that during early storage when the temperatures are high, any flaw will not extend by DHC, whereas at low temperatures, after many years of storage, flaws would have to be very large, approaching through wall, before being extended by DHC. To date, spent nuclear fuel is not known to have failed by DHC during storage, confirming the inference.
    KIH, temperature dependence, immunity-->


    Zircaloy-4 cladding, dry storage, DHC, KIH, temperature dependence, immunity

    Author Information:

    Coleman, Christopher E.
    Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, Ontario,

    Markelov, Vladimir A.
    A. A. Bochvar High-Technology Scientific Research Institute for Inorganic Materials, Moscow,

    Roth, Maria
    RATEN, Mioveni,

    Makarevicius, Vidas
    Lithuanian Energy Institute, Kaunas,

    He, Zhang
    Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, Ontario,

    Chakravartty, Jayanta Kumar
    Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Mechanical Metallurgy Division, Materials Group, Mumbai,

    Alvarez-Holston, Anna-Maria
    Studsvik Nuclear AB, Mechanical Metallurgy Division, Nyköping,

    Ali, Liaqat
    Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology, Islamabad,

    Ramanathan, Lalgudi
    The Energy and Nuclear Research Institute, Materials Science and Technology Center, São Paulo S.P.,

    Inozemtsev, Victor
    International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna,

    Committee/Subcommittee: B10.02

    DOI: 10.1520/STP159720160048