The effects of thermal aging of stainless steel weld-overlay claddings of nuclear reactor pressure vessels on the microstructure and hardness of the claddings were investigated using atom probe tomography and nanoindentation testing. The claddings were aged at 400 °C for periods of 100-10,000 h. The fluctuation in Cr concentration in the δ-ferrite phase, which was caused by spinodal decomposition, progressed rapidly after aging for 100 h, and gradually for aging durations greater than 1000 h. On the other hand, NiSiMn clusters, initially formed after aging for less than 1000 h, had the highest number density after aging for 2000 h, and coarsened after aging for 10,000 h. The hardness of the δ-ferrite phase also increased rapidly for short period of aging, and saturated after aging for longer than 1000 h. This trend was similar to the observed Cr fluctuation concentration, but different from the trend seen in the formation of the NiSiMn clusters. These results strongly suggest that the primary factor responsible for the hardening of the δ-ferrite phase owing to thermal aging is Cr spinodal decomposition.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Nuclear and High Energy Physics
- Materials Science(all)
- Nuclear Energy and Engineering