SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 1973

Swelling and Tensile Property Evaluations of High-Fluence EBR-II Thimbles


The effects of very high neutron fluences on tensile properties and swelling of 300-series austenitic stainless steel were evaluated by destructive examination of several EBR-II thimbles that had accumulated fluences approaching 1.2 x 1023 n/cm2 (En > 0.1 MeV). Irradiation temperatures ranged from 370 to 470 C (698 to 878 F).

Immersion density measurements on control or safety rod thimbles 3D1, 5C3, 5A3, and 3A1 indicate that swelling increases with neutron fluence. Maximum measured volume changes are about 11 percent at 1.1 x 1023 n/cm2 (En > 0.1 MeV) and temperatures near 420 C (788 F). No indications of saturation were observed; in fact, swelling rates increase with increasing fluence over the whole range of fluences investigated. Anomalous swelling behavior was observed in control rod thimble 5A3. In this component, which may have been subjected to mechanical constraint, swelling gradients were found to be much lower than anticipated on the basis of the corresponding gradients in irradiation conditions. This behavior may be the result of an effect of stress on swelling not previously encountered.

Tensile property changes are similar to those classically observed. When irradiation and test temperatures are equivalent, yield strength (0.2 percent offset) increases rapidly at low fluences and becomes fluence-independent at high fluence levels (>7 × 1022 n/cm2, En > 0.1 MeV). Uniform elongation correspondingly decreases with increasing fluence and appears to saturate near 0.5 percent at higher fluence levels. This transition in fluence dependence of the properties is associated with a transition in fracture mechanism. The transition occurs from the usual homogeneous plastic dimpling fracture at low fluences to an extremely heterogeneous channel fracture at high fluence levels.

Author Information

Fish, RL
WADCO Corp., Richland, Wash.
Straalsund, JL
WADCO Corp., Richland, Wash.
Hunter, CW
WADCO Corp., Richland, Wash.
Holmes, JJ
WADCO Corp., Richland, Wash.
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Developed by Committee: E10
Pages: 149–164
DOI: 10.1520/STP35443S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-4627-3
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-0328-3