Alloy 617 is the leading candidate material for an intermediate heat exchanger (IHX) application of the Very High Temperature Nuclear Reactor (VHTR), expected to have an outlet temperature as high as 950°C. Acceptance of Alloy 617 in Section III of the ASME Code for nuclear construction requires a detailed understanding of the creep-fatigue behavior. Initial creep-fatigue work on Alloy 617 suggests a more dominant role of environment with increasing temperature and/or hold times evidenced through changes in creep-fatigue crack growth mechanism/s and failure life. Furthermore, previous work on corrosion of nickel base alloys in impure helium has suggested that this environment is far from inert with respect to Alloy 617. Continuous cycle fatigue and creep-fatigue testing of Alloy 617 was conducted at 950°C and 0.3% and 0.6% total strain in air to simulate damage modes expected in a VHTR application. Continuous cycle and creep-fatigue specimens exhibited intergranular cracking, but did not show evidence of grain boundary cavitation. Despite the absence of grain boundary cavitation to accelerate crack propagation, the addition of a hold time at peak tensile strain was detrimental to cycle life. This suggests that creep-fatigue interaction may occur by a different mechanism or that the environment may be partially responsible for accelerating failure.

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