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Neutron diffraction illustrates residual stress behavior of welded alloys used as radioactive confinement boundary...

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International Journal of Pressure Vessels and Piping
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Corrosion-resistant welded alloys are frequently used as a leak-tight boundary in critical applications that require confinement of hazardous and/or radioactive substances, including an increasing population of spent nuclear fuel (SNF) canisters. The behavior of residual stresses generated as a result of irregular elastic–plastic deformation during processes such as welding is one of today's key issues to a full understanding of the aging mechanisms that may compromise the confinement boundary. Whether such processes and any subsequent weld repairs, not subjected to post-weld heat treatment, would negatively affect the initial material by introducing through-thickness tensile stresses remains an open question. Here we report the first residual stress measurements using neutron diffraction on the welded joints of a SNF canister. We found significant tensile residual stresses in the as welded sample, indicating that initiation and through-thickness growth of cracks may be possible. Following repair, we observed a stress redistribution and introduction of beneficial compressive stresses. We anticipate our results will improve understanding of confinement susceptibility to aging and guide improvements in repair techniques.