For more than 50 years, a thin (3–20 μm) graphite coating has played an important role in limiting the stress corrosion cracking (SCC) of Zircaloy-4 fuel sheathing in CANDU® nuclear reactors. Siloxane coatings, which were examined alongside graphite coatings in the early 1970s, demonstrated even better tolerance against power-ramp-induced SCC and exhibited better wear resistance than graphite coatings. Although siloxane technology developed significantly in the 1980s/1990s, siloxane coatings remain unused in CANDU reactors, because graphite is relatively inexpensive and performs well in-service. However, advanced CANDU designs will accommodate average burnups, exceeding the threshold tolerable by the graphite coating (). In addition, siloxane coatings may find applicability in pressurized and boiling water reactors, wherein the burnups are inherently larger than those in CANDU reactors. Consequently, a commercially available siloxane coating is evaluated by its present-day chemistry, wear resistance, and performance in hot, stressful, and corrosive environments. After subjecting slotted Zircaloy-4 rings to iodine concentrations exceeding the estimated in-reactor concentration (), mechanical deflection tests and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) show that the siloxane coating outperforms the graphite coating in preserving the mechanical integrity of the rings. Furthermore, the baked siloxane coating survived a 50-day exposure to thermal neutron flux () in the SLOWPOKE-2 nuclear reactor at the Royal Military College of Canada.
Mitigating the Stress Corrosion Cracking of Zircaloy-4 Fuel Sheathing: Siloxane Coatings Revisited
Manuscript received May 4, 2015; final manuscript received September 16, 2015; published online February 29, 2016. Assoc. Editor: Jovica R. Riznic.
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Ferrier, G. A., Farahani, M., Metzler, J., Chan, P. K., and Corcoran, E. C. (February 29, 2016). "Mitigating the Stress Corrosion Cracking of Zircaloy-4 Fuel Sheathing: Siloxane Coatings Revisited." ASME. ASME J of Nuclear Rad Sci. April 2016; 2(2): 021004. https://doi.org/10.1115/1.4031620
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