To assess the effects of long-term, low-dose-rate neutron exposure on mechanical strength and ductility, tensile properties were measured on irradiated 20% cold-worked Type 316 stainless steel. Samples were prepared from reactor core components retrieved from the EBR-II reactor following final shutdown. Sample locations were chosen to cover a dose range of 1–47 dpa at temperatures from 371–385°C and dose rates from 0.8–2.8 × 10−7 dpa/s. These dose rates are about one order of magnitude lower than those of typical EBR-II in-core experiments. Irradiation cuased hardening, with the yield strength (YS) following approximately the same trend as the ultimate tensile strength (UTS). At higher dose, the difference between the UTS and YS decreases, suggesting the work-hardening capability of the material is decreasing with increasing dose. Both the uniform elongation and total elongation decrease up to the largest dose. Unlike the strength data, the ductility reduction showed no signs of saturating at 20 dpa. While the material retained respectable ductility at 20 dpa, the uniform and total elongation decreased to <1 and <3%, respectively, at 47 dpa. Fracture in the 30 dpa specimen is mainly ductile but with local regions of mixed-mode failure consisting of dimples and microvoids. The fracture surface of the higher-exposure 47 dpa specimen displays significantly more brittle features. The fracture consists of maily small facets and slip bands that suggest channel fracture. The hardening in these low-dose-rate components differs from that measured in test samples irradiated in EBR-II at higher-dose-rate. The material irradiated at higher dose rate loses work hardening capactiy faster than the lower dose rate material, although this effect could be due to compositional differences.

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