Kinetic study of hydrogen-material interactions in nickel base alloy 600 and stainless steel 316L through coupled experimental and numerical analysis

Caitlin Hurley

Research output: ThesisDissertationMonograph


In France all of the nuclear power plant facilities in service today are pressurized water reactors (PWR). Some parts of the PWR in contact with the primary circuit medium, such as the steam generator tubes (fabricated in nickel base alloy A600) and some reactor core internal components (fabricated in stainless steel 316L), can fall victim to environmental degradation phenomena such as stress corrosion cracking (SCC). In the late 1950's, H. Coriou observed experimentally and predicted this type of cracking in alloys traditionally renowned for their SCC resistance (A600). Just some 20 to 30 years later his predictions became a reality. Since then, numerous studies have focused on the description and comprehension of the SCC phenomenon in primary water under reactor operating conditions. In view of reactor lifetime extension, it has become both critical and strategic to be capable of simulating SCC phenomenon in order to optimize construction materials, operating conditions, etc. and to understand the critical parameters in order to limit the damage done by SCC. This study focuses on the role hydrogen plays in SCC phenomenon and in particular H-material interactions. Hydrogen, from primary medium in the form of dissolved H gas or H from the water, can be absorbed by the alloy during the oxidation process taking place under reactor operating conditions. Once absorbed, hydrogen may be transported across the material, diffusing in the interstitial sites of the crystallographic structure and interacting with local defects, such as dislocations, precipitates, vacancies, etc. The presence of these [local defect] sites can slow the hydrogen transport and may provoke local H accumulation in the alloy. This accumulation could modify the local mechanical properties of the material and favor premature rupture. It is therefore essential to identify the nature of these H-material interactions, specifically the rate of H diffusion and hydrogen trapping kinetics at these defects. Concerning these H-trap site interactions, literature presents very few complete sets of kinetic data; it is therefore necessary to study and characterize these interactions in-depth. This work is composed of two interdependent parts: (i) the development of a calculation code capable to manage these H-material interactions and (ii) to extract the kinetic constants for trapping and detrapping from experimental results in order to fuel the simulation code and create a solid database. Due to the complexity of industrial materials (A600 and SS316L), \enquote{model materials} were elaborated using a series of thermomechanical treatments allowing for the study of simplified systems and the deconvolution of the different possible trapped and interstitial hydrogen contributions. These \enquote{model} specimens were charged with deuterium (an isotopic hydrogen tracer) by cathodic polarization. After charging, specimens were subjected to thermal desorption mass spectroscopy (TDS) analysis where the deuterium desorption flux is monitored during a temperature ramp or at an isotherm. Interstitial diffusion and kinetic trapping and detrapping constants were extracted from experimental TDS spectra using a numerical fitting routine based upon the numerical resolution of the McNabb and Foster equations. This study allowed for the determination of the hydrogen diffusion coefficient in two alloys, Ni base alloy 600 and stainless steel 316L, and the kinetic trapping and detrapping constants at two trap site types, chromium carbides and dislocations. These constants will be used to construct a kinetic database which will serve as input parameters for a numerical model for the prediction and simulation of SCC in PWRs
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Université de Toulouse
  • Martin, Frantz, Supervisor, External person
  • Marchetti, Loïc , Supervisor, External person
  • Blanc, Christine, Supervisor, External person
  • Andrieu, Eric, Supervisor, External person
Award date3 Sept 2015
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sept 2015
MoE publication typeG4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)


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