Characterization of the Oxide Films Formed at the Surface of Ni-Base Alloys in Pressurized Water Reactors Primary Coolant by Transmission Electron Microscopy
The oxide film formed on nickel-based alloys in Pressurized Water Reactors (PWR) primary coolant conditions (325°C, aqueous media) has been investigated by Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM). TEM observations revealed an oxide layer divided in two parts. The internal layer was mainly composed of a continuous spinel layer, identified as a mixed iron and nickel chromite (Ni(1-x)FexCr2O4). Moreover, nodules of Cr2O3 were present at the interface between this spinel and the alloy. The external layer is composed of large crystallites corresponding to a spinel structure rich in iron (Ni(1-z)Fe(2+z)O4) resulting from precipitation phenomena. The influence of alloy surface defects was also studied underlining two main consequences on the formation of the passive film e.g. the internal layer. On one hand, the growth kinetics of the internal spinel rich in chromium increased with the surface defect density. Besides that, when the defect density increased, the oxide scale became more finely crystallized. This result agrees with a growth mechanism due to a rate limiting process of diffusion through the grain boundaries of the oxide. On the other hand, the quantity of Cr2O3 nodules increased with the number of surface defects, revealing that the nodules nucleated preferentially at defect location.
Pierre Steinmetz, Ian G. Wright, Alain Galerie, Daniel Monceau and Stéphane Mathieu
M. Sennour et al., "Characterization of the Oxide Films Formed at the Surface of Ni-Base Alloys in Pressurized Water Reactors Primary Coolant by Transmission Electron Microscopy", Materials Science Forum, Vols. 595-598, pp. 539-547, 2008