Post-irradiation examination (PIE) in the form of transmission electron microscopy (TEM) was used to characterize the microstructure of several specimens of Zircaloy-2 and Zircaloy-2 plus 1% Nb that had previously underwent in-pile creep testing in the HALDEN reactor. The purpose of the examination was to explore a microstructural basis for an apparent substantially increased rate of hardening over that observed with similar materials in the higher fast-flux environments of the ATR or HFIR, and to investigate the increased creep strength exhibited by the Nb-containing alloy relative to pure Zircaloy-2. The analysis of irradiation-induced defects indicated a higher than expected density, which was consistent with the observed high hardening rate. Modeling based on mean field rate theory suggests the lower neutron flux in the HALDEN reactor results in a higher fraction of irradiation-induced defects being available for sink (loop) nucleation and growth.
- In-pile creep