Steam Oxidation of Zirconium–Yttrium Alloys from 500–\(1100\,^{\circ }\text {C}\)

  • Peter MoucheEmail author
  • Brent Heuser
Original Paper


The steam oxidation kinetics, oxide formation, and hydrogen uptake of nuclear-grade Zr with 0.01–12 wt% yttrium were studied. Metallography and diffraction of the as-received material showed yttrium remained trapped in solid solution in concentrations up to 2 wt%; therefore, steam oxidation focused on 0.01–1 wt% Y samples. Thermogravimetric analysis was performed in a steam–argon environment at \(500\,^{\circ }\text {C}, 700\,^{\circ }\text {C}, 900\,^{\circ }\text {C}\), and \(1100\,^{\circ }\text {C}\) at atmospheric pressure. At \(500\,^{\circ }\text {C}\) and \(700\,^{\circ }\text {C}\), increasing the yttrium concentration increased the total weight gain by up to 300% and caused an increase the oxidation power-law exponent. At \(900\,^{\circ }\text {C}\), increasing the yttrium concentration caused a much smaller increase in the weight gain, and resulted in a decrease in the oxidation power-law exponent. At the highest temperature, \(1100\,^{\circ }\text {C}\), increasing the yttrium concentration had a minimal effect on the kinetics. Transmission synchrotron diffraction and cross-sectional optical microscopy showed significant hydrogen uptake at \(500\,^{\circ }\text {C}\) and \(700\,^{\circ }\text {C}\) through the formation of \(\delta\) and \(\gamma\) zirconium hydrides. The volume of these two hydride phases increased with increasing yttrium concentration. This hydrogen uptake appears to be linked to the increase in the steam oxidation power-law exponent observed at \(500\,^{\circ }\text {C}\) and \(700\,^{\circ }\text {C}\).


Zirconium Yttrium Steam oxidation Hydride 



This study was supported by the US Department of Energy NEUP IRP under the IRP-12-4728 as well as the NRC graduate fellowship. I would like to thank the Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory at UIUC and the ANL APS 11-ID-C beamline scientists for the use of the facilities. Special thanks goes to Yang Ren, Mohamed Elbakhshwan, and Jun-li Lin for their assistance with synchrotron data collection and analysis.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Oak Ridge National Laboratory and University of Illinois Urbana/ChampaignOak RidgeUSA
  2. 2.Department of Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering, 111B Talbot Laboratory MC 234University of Illinois Urbana/ChampaignUrbanaUSA

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