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Effect of Tritium and Decay Helium on the Fracture Toughness Properties of Stainless Steel Weldments

Michael J. Morgan, Scott West, Michael H. Tosten

Fusion Science and Technology

Volume 54 / Number 2 / August 2008 / Pages 501-505


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J-Integral fracture toughness tests were conducted on tritium-exposed-and-aged Types 304L and 21-6-9 stainless steel weldments in order to measure the combined effects of tritium and its decay product, helium-3 on the fracture toughness properties. Initially, weldments have fracture toughness values about three times higher than base-metal values. Delta-ferrite phase in the weld microstructure improved toughness provided no tritium was present in the microstructure. After a tritium-exposure-and-aging treatment that resulted in ~1400 atomic parts per million (appm) dissolved tritium, both weldments and base metals had their fracture toughness values reduced to about the same level. The tritium effect was greater in weldments (67 % reduction vs. 37% reduction) largely because the ductile discontinuous delta-ferrite phase was embrittled by tritium and decay helium. For both base metals and weldments, fracture toughness values decreased with increasing decay helium content in the range tested (50-800 appm).

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