Abstract

The reactor vessel of the High Flux Reactor (HFR) in Petten has been fabricated from Al 5154-O alloy grade with a maximum Mg content of 3.5 wt. %. The vessel experiences large amount of neutron fluences (notably at hot spot), of the order of 1027 n/m2, during its operational life. Substantial damage to the material’s microstructure and mechanical properties can occur at these high fluence conditions. To this end, a dedicated surveillance program: SURP (SURveillance Program) is executed to understand, predict and measure the influence of neutron radiation damage on the mechanical properties of the vessel material. In the SURP program, test specimens fabricated from representative HFR vessel material are continuously irradiated in two specially designed experimental rigs. A number of surveillance specimens are periodically extracted and tested to evaluate the changes in fracture toughness properties of the vessel as function neutron fluence. The surveillance testing results of test campaigns performed until 2015 were published previously in [1, 2]. The current paper presents fracture toughness and SEM results from the recent surveillance campaign performed in 2017. The fracture toughness specimen tested in this campaign received a thermal neutron fluence of 13.56 x1026 n/m2, which is ∼8.9 × 1025 n/m2 more than the thermal fluence received by the specimen tested in SURP 2015 campaign. These results from this campaign have shown no change in the fracture toughness from the values measured in the previous SURP campaign. The SEM observations are performed to study the fracture surface, to measure (by WDS) the transmutation Si formed near crack tip and to investigate various inclusions in the microstructure. SEM fracture surface investigation revealed a tortuous (bumpy) fracture surface constituting micro-scale dimples over majority of the fracture area. Islands of cleavage facets and secondary cracks have been observed as well. EDS analysis of various inclusions in the microstructure revealed presence of Fe rich inclusions and Mg-Si rich precipitates. Additionally, inclusions rich in Al-Mg-Cr-Ti were identified. Finally, changes in mechanical properties of Al 5154-O alloy with an increase in neutron fluence (or transmutation Si) are discussed in correlation with SEM microstructure and fracture morphology observed in SEM. TEM investigation of precipitate microstructure is ongoing and those results will be published in future.

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