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Hydrogen effects on thermal diffusivity and electrical resistivity of zircaloy cladding

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Journal of Nuclear Materials
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Thermal diffusivity measurements on Zirconium-based cladding materials have historically been a challenge due to the difficulty to measure on specimens with curved geometries, including nuclear grade Zircaloy cladding materials. In this work, we first used laser flash analysis method and four-probe configuration method to measure the thermal diffusivity and electrical resistivity of Zircaloy tubes respectively, which show good agreement with Zircaloy plates in this work, as well as previously published data. The consistent results proved the applicability of the laser flash analysis setup and four-probe configuration method for investigating thermal diffusivity and electrical resistivity of Zircaloy tubes. We further investigated the hydrogen effect on thermal diffusivity and electrical resistivity of Zircaloy. Hydrogen plays significant roles in the thermal diffusivity of Zircaloy, which depends on the hydrogen concentration. For higher hydrogen contents (1130 and 1820 wppm in this work), where phase transformation (α-Zr + δ-hydride → α-Zr + β-Zr) occurs at 567 °C, thermal diffusivity decreases as a function of temperature at the α-Zr + δ-hydride phase regime, while increase at higher temperature at the α-Zr + β-Zr phase regime. For low hydrogen concentration, where hydride dissolved into α-Zr matrix phase at higher temperature, the thermal diffusivity is lower than non-hydrided Zircaloy-4 with similar temperature-dependent trends. Such observation demonstrates the hydrogen effects on reducing thermal diffusivity of α-Zr phase. Hydrogen increases the electrical resistivity of Zircaloy. Similar to thermal diffusivity results, the phase transformation causes a reversal of temperature-dependent trends in electrical resistivity results in Zircaloy-4 with higher hydrogen contents.