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Title: Nanostructured Fe-Cr Alloys for Advanced Nuclear Energy Applications

We have completed research on the grain-size stabilization of model nanostructured Fe14Cr base alloys at high temperatures by the addition of non-equilibrium solutes. Fe14Cr base alloys are representative for nuclear reactor applications. The neutron flux in a nuclear reactor will generate He atoms that coalesce to form He bubbles. These can lead to premature failure of the reactor components, limiting their lifetime and increasing the cost and capacity for power generation. In order to mitigate such failures, Fe14Cr base alloys have been processed to contain very small nano-size oxide particles (less than 10 nm in size) that trap He atoms and reduce bubble formation. Theoretical and experimental results indicate that the grain boundaries can also be very effective traps for He atoms and bubble formation. An optimum grain size will be less than 100 nm, ie., nanocrystalline alloys must be used. Powder metallurgy methods based on high-energy ball milling can produce Fe-Cr base nanocrystalline alloys that are suitable for nuclear energy applications. The problem with nanocrystalline alloys is that excess grain-boundary energy will cause grains to grow at higher temperatures and their propensity for He trapping will be lost. The nano-size oxide particles in current generation nuclear alloys provide somemore » grain size stabilization by reducing grain-boundary mobility (Zener pinning – a kinetic effect). However the current mitigation strategy minimizing bubble formation is based primarily on He trapping by nano-size oxide particles. An alternate approach to nanoscale grain size stabilization has been proposed. This is based on the addition of small amounts of atoms that are large compared to the base alloy. At higher temperatures these will diffuse to the grain boundaries and will produce an equilibrium state for the grain size at higher temperatures (thermodynamic stabilization – an equilibrium effect). This would be preferred compared to a kinetic effect, which is not based on an equilibrium state. The PI and coworkers have developed thermodynamic-based models that can be used to select appropriate solute additions to Fe14Cr base alloys to achieve a contribution to grain-size stabilization and He bubble mitigation by the thermodynamic effect. All such models require approximations and the proposed research was aimed at alloy selection, processing and detailed atomic-level microstructure evaluations to establish the efficacy of the thermodynamic effect. The outcome of this research shows that appropriate alloy additions can produce a contribution from the thermodynamic stabilization effect. Furthermore, due to the oxygen typically present in nominally high purity elemental powders used for powder metallurgy processing, the optimum results obtained appeared as a synergistic combination of nano-size oxide particle pinning kinetic effect and the grain-boundary segregation thermodynamic effect.« less
  1. North Carolina State Univ., Raleigh, NC (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
Final Technical Report DE-NE0000538
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
North Carolina State Univ., Raleigh, NC (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
36 MATERIALS SCIENCE nanocrystalline ODS alloys; Grain size stabilization; irradiation; He bubble swelling