SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 1989

Influence of Chemical Composition on Uniform Corrosion of Zirconium-Base Alloys in Autoclave Tests


The influence of the composition of Zircaloy-type alloys has been evaluated previously with respect to mechanical properties (1973 International Conference Zirconium in the Nuclear Industry, ASTM STP 551) and to nodular corrosion (1985 International ASTM Conference on Zirconium in the Nuclear Industry, ASTM STP 939). The present study extends this previous work to include uniform corrosion, which is of interest for cladding tubes and spacer grids of fuel assemblies. A variety of ingots with compositions both within and outside of the ASTM specification range for Zircaloy-2 and Zircaloy-4 have been tested. The material was fabricated into strips using a conventional fabrication procedure, which incorporated an intermediate beta quench followed by working and annealing in the upper alpha-range. The alloy elements covered the following ranges: tin: 0.2 to 1.7%; iron: 0.05 to 0.53%; chromium: 0.04 to 1.05%; and nickel: 0.003 to 0.046%. In addition, oxygen, carbon, silicon, and phosphorus were varied over the range of standard Zircaloy contents.

Uniform corrosion was studied out of pile by long-time autoclave testing in pressurized water at 350°C (380 to 840 days) and in high pressure steam at 400°C (180 to 397 days). These data supplement testing previously reported for these same alloys in steam at 500°C under static and refreshing conditions (Strasbourg, 1985, ASTM STP 939). Electron microscopic examinations (SEM and TEM) have been used to characterize the intermetallic precipitates to clarify the effect of the various elements.

The results of the 350 and 400°C testing show that the time to transition from the cubic to linear rate increases and the post transition rate decreases with decreasing tin and carbon and increasing silicon content. Oxygen and phosphorus have not shown an influence in the range studied. The effect of iron and chromium was more complex than for these other elements; the effect was also different in nature between water and steam tests. Markedly accelerated corrosion was seen at Fe + Cr concentrations below the limits of the Zircaloys (⩽0.15%) especially in steam. This composition effect is similar to that previously reported for the same alloys tested at 500°C. High Cr/Fe ratios often resulted in high corrosion even at moderately high levels of both elements. The effect of iron and chromium can be correlated to type, size, and frequency of the intermetallics.

Author Information

Eucken, CM
Teledyne Wah Chang Albany, Albany, OR
Finden, PT
Teledyne Wah Chang Albany, Albany, OR
Trapp-Pritsching, S
Kraftwerk Union AG-B-22, Erlangen, Federal Republic of Germany
Weidinger, HG
Kraftwerk Union AG-B-22, Erlangen, Federal Republic of Germany
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Developed by Committee: B10
Pages: 113–127
DOI: 10.1520/STP18860S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-5084-3
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-1199-8