The effect of the neutron flux at high fluence on the microstructural and hardness changes of a reactor pressure vessel (RPV) steel was investigated. An accelerated test reactor irradiation of a RPV material, previously irradiated in commercial reactors, was carried out at the lowest possible neutron fluxes in order to obtain neutron fluences up to approximately 1×1020 n/cm2 (E>1MeV). State-of-the-art experimental techniques such as three-dimensional atom probe were applied to carry out advanced quantitative characterization of defect features in the materials. Results for the same material irradiated in both high and low flux conditions are compared. For neutron fluences above 6×1019 n/cm2 (E>1MeV) the difference in the neutron fluence dependence of the increase in hardness is not seen for any neutron flux condition. The volume fraction of solute atom clusters increases linearly with neutron fluence, and the influence of neutron flux is not significant. The component elements and the chemical composition of the solute atom clusters formed by the irradiation do not change regardless of the neutron fluence and flux. The square root of the volume fraction of the solute atom clusters is a good correlation with the increase in hardness.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.