Fusion Science and Technology / Volume 48 / Number 1 / July 2005 / Pages 539-544
Technical Paper / Tritium Science and Technology - Materials Interaction and Permeation
A continuum-scale, evolutionary model of bubble nucleation, growth and He release for aging metal tritides is described which accounts for major features of the tritide database. Bubble nucleation, modeled as self-trapping of interstitially diffusing He atoms, occurs during the first few days following tritium introduction into the metal. Bubble growth by dislocation loop punching yields good agreement between He atomic volumes and bubble pressures determined from bulk swelling and 3He NMR data. The bubble spacing distribution determined from NMR is shown to remain fixed with age, justifying the separation of nucleation and growth phases and providing a sensitive test of the growth formulation. Late in life, bubble interactions are proposed to produce cooperative stress effects, which lower the bubble pressure. Helium generated near surfaces and surface-connected porosity accounts for the low-level early helium release. Use of an average ligament stress criterion predicts an onset of inter-bubble fracture in good agreement with the He/Metal ratio observed for rapid He release. From the model, it is concluded that He retention can be controlled through control of bubble nucleation.