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Microstructure and mechanical properties of friction stir weld performed on neutron-irradiated 304L steel with helium...

by Maxim N Gussev, Wei Tang, Xiang Chen, James T Dixon, Thomas M Rosseel
Publication Type
Journal Name
Materials Characterization
Publication Date
Page Numbers
113697 to 113697

As nuclear power plants (NPPs) approach or exceed 40–60 years of service, it may become necessary to repair damaged neutron-irradiated components to prolong longevity. However, fusion welding repair of irradiated steels and metallic materials is challenging because of helium-induced cracking. This study used friction stir welding (FSW) to address helium-related issues, such as helium bubble formation and grain boundary cracking. The microstructure, helium-induced degradation, and mechanical properties of a friction stir weld produced on neutron-irradiated 304L stainless steel with approximately 5.2 appm of helium were characterized. The analysis focused on variations in grain size, texture, and the morphology of helium-induced damage in the friction stir weld. Mechanical properties were characterized on the irradiated base metal (BM) and metallurgical zones of the friction stir weld: the stir zone (SZ), the thermo-mechanically affected zone (TMAZ), and the heat affected zone (HAZ). Only minor scattered porosity in the SZ and TMAZ and a few short microcracks (below 20 μm in length) in the TMAZ were observed, indicating limited helium-induced degradation. Tensile tests revealed good mechanical properties and fractography analysis demonstrated predominantly ductile fracture. The results highlight the immediate and substantial benefits of the FSW approach for repairing or joining helium-containing irradiated materials in NPPs.