Fusion Science and Technology / Volume 57 / Number 3 / April 2010 / Pages 185-195
Exposure of Type 316 stainless steel to tritium-containing hydrogen at an elevated temperature causes diffusion of the majority into the bulk and trapping of a small fraction in a thin oxide layer on the surface at concentrations far exceeding those in the bulk. The uptake by the bulk and surface layer is temperature and pressure dependent. After chemical erosion of the tritium-rich layer, the concentration of tritium on the topmost surface is slowly and asymptotically restored even at 298 K. Isothermal heating at 373 or 473 K until substantial release of the bulk tritium is associated with a comparatively much smaller liberation from the surface layer suggesting different retention and liberation mechanisms. The tritium inventory and profile evolution of homogeneously loaded Type 316 stainless steel caused by chronic release at the ambient temperature and radioactive decay were followed experimentally over several years and modeled successfully by a diffusion mechanism. The model has been adapted to specimens nonhomogeneously loaded with tritium only up to the subsurface. It simulates profile and inventory changes well even after prolonged aging. Chronic release constitutes an aging loss of tritium comparable to that of radioactive decay that should be taken into account for the assessment of tritium-contaminated stainless steel waste.