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Energy Generation & Storage

Safety is the main issue, not just in terms the initial building of the plant but also during operation. One of the critical areas is preventing exposure of radiation and radiated material, as example preventing cracking in the zirc alloy material used in the nuclear reactor to isolate the radioactive pillars from the surrounding cooling water and used in pressure tubes.


Zirconium alloys have a low solubility of hydrogen resulting in excess hydrogen getting precipitated as zirconium hydride. This leads to embrittlement, delayed hydrogen cracking and hydride blistering, all limiting the lifetime of the material and causing environmental concern. Understanding the processes behind the zirconium hydride precipitation is therefore critical and the first step towards being able to gain this understanding is to be able to detect and analyse the ZrH precipitates in the zirc alloy material.

EDS can’t detect ZrH but EBSD can easily identify and characterize the ZrH precipitates in the zirc matrix. Thereby providing valuable information to estimate the lifetime of the zirconium alloy parts used in the nuclear plants.

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Application Notes

Characterisation of Hydrides in a Zirconium Alloy, by EBSD

Zirconium alloys are used in nuclear reactors owing to their low capture cross-section for thermal neutrons and good mechanical and corrosion properties. However, they suffer from delayed hydrogen cracking (DHC) due to formation of hydride particles. This study shows how EBSD can be used to characterise hydrides in terms of their orientation relationship with the matrix and internal structure and local misorientation...

Investigating the effect of GdNi5 precipitates on the toughness of a Ni-based superalloy

In this application, the processed superalloy had a much lower toughness than was expected (and was required). A short investigation using automated EBSD was carried out in order to determine the cause of the undesired physical properties...


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