Nanoindentation and nano-impact of Zircaloy nuclear fuel cladding

In the recent publication by Vikas Tomar and colleagues at Purdue University (link below), the NanoTest was used to perform nanoindentation and nano-scale impact experiments on hydride precipitates embedded in a zirconium alloy in order to obtain the stress-strain response at temperatures up to 300 C.

Zirconium alloys are used for cladding of fuel rods in nuclear reactors due to their excellent thermomechanical properties and corrosion resistance.

However the oxidative reaction of zirconium with coolant water results in the formation of zirconium hydrides that are extremely brittle, and lead to blistering and cracking of the cladding – a phenomenon known as hydrogen embrittlement.

Targeting these micron-scale hydrides requires nano-scale measurements; an application well-suited to the NanoTest with it’s integrated optical microscope and sub-micron repositioning accuracy.

You can view the paper on ScienceDirect using the link below: