Dislocation spreading and ductile–to-brittle transition in post-irradiated ferritic grains: Investigation of grain size

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PLASTICITY AND FRACTURE AT THE NANOSCALES

Dislocation spreading and ductile–to-brittle transition in post-irradiated ferritic grains: Investigation of grain size and grain orientation effect by means of 3D dislocation dynamics simulations Yang Li1,a)

, Christian Robertson2,b), Xianfeng Ma3, Biao Wang3

1

DEN-Service de Recherches Métallurgiques Appliquées, CEA, Université Paris-Saclay, Gif-sur-Yvette 91191, France; and Sino-French Institute of Nuclear Engineering and Technology, Sun Yat-sen University, Zhuhai 519082, China 2 DEN-Service de Recherches Métallurgiques Appliquées, CEA, Université Paris-Saclay, Gif-sur-Yvette 91191, France 3 Sino-French Institute of Nuclear Engineering and Technology, Sun Yat-sen University, Zhuhai 519082, China a) Address all correspondence to these authors. e-mail: [email protected] b) e-mail: [email protected] Received: 1 October 2018; accepted: 25 March 2019

Post-irradiation plastic strain spreading in ferritic grains is investigated by means of three-dimensional dislocation dynamics simulations, whereby dislocation-mediated plasticity mechanisms are analyzed in the presence of various disperse defect populations, for different grain size and orientation cases. Each simulated irradiation condition is then characterized by a specific “defect-induced apparent straining temperature shift” (DDIAT) magnitude, reflecting the statistical evolutions of dislocation mobility. It is found that the calculated DDIAT level closely matches the ductile-to-brittle transition temperature shift (DDBTT) associated with a given defect dispersion, characterized by the (average) defect size D and defect number density N. The noted DDIAT/ DDBTT correlation can be explained based on plastic strain spreading arguments and applicable to many different ferritic alloy compositions, at least within the range of simulation conditions examined herein. This systematic study represents one essential step toward the development of a fully predictive, dose-dependent fracture model, adapted to polycrystalline ferritic materials.

Introduction The mechanical properties of ferritic materials are subjected to detrimental dose-dependent evolutions, including embrittlement, swelling, hardening, and radiation-induced segregations. These evolutions represent an important life-limiting factor for various types of nuclear installations [1, 2, 3, 4]. Ferritic materials are characterized by a well-defined ductile-to-brittle transition (DBT), in both irradiated and non-irradiated conditions [5, 6, 7, 8, 9]. Usual surveillance practices include the DBT temperature assessment of the reactor pressure vessel (RPV) steel. Such evaluation involves the destructive testing of a fixed number of macroscopic specimens inserted in surveillance capsules located near the RPV inner wall prior to the initial reactor start-up. The surveillance specimens are taken out-of-pile at a selected periodicity (a few years, typically) and then handled, tested, and disposed of in hot cell facilities [10,

11, 12]. Although reliable, this c