Hydride precipitation and its influence on mechanical properties of notched and unnotched Zircaloy-4 plates
The hydride formation and its influence on the mechanical performance of hydrided Zircaloy-4 plates containing different hydrogen contents were studied at room temperature. For the unnotched plate samples with the hydrogen contents ranging from 25 to 850 wt. ppm, the hydrides exerted an insignificant effect on the tensile strength, while the ductility was severely degraded with increasing hydrogen content. The fracture mode and degree of embrittlement were strongly related to the hydrogen content. When the hydrogen content reached a level of 850 wt. ppm, the plate exhibited negligible ductility, resulting in almost completely brittle behavior. For the hydrided notched plate, the tensile stress concentration associated with the notch tip facilitated the hydride accumulation at the region near the notch tip and the premature crack propagation through the hydride fracture during hydriding. The final brittle through-thickness failure for this notched sample was mainly attributed to the formation of a continuous hydride network on the thickness section and the obtained very high hydrogen concentration (estimated to be 1965 wt. ppm). © 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.