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On the Elevated Temperature Thermal Stability of Nanoscale Mn-Ni-Si Precipitates Formed at Lower Temperature in Highly Irradiated Reactor Pressure Vessel Steels.

  • Author(s): Almirall, N;
  • Wells, PB;
  • Ke, H;
  • Edmondson, P;
  • Morgan, D;
  • Yamamoto, T;
  • Odette, GR
  • et al.

Atom probe tomography (APT) and scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) techniques were used to probe the long-time thermal stability of nm-scale Mn-Ni-Si precipitates (MNSPs) formed in intermediate and high Ni reactor pressure vessel steels under high fluence neutron irradiation at ≈320 °C. Post irradiation annealing (PIA) at 425 °C for up to 57 weeks was used to determine if the MNSPs are: (a) non-equilibrium solute clusters formed and sustained by radiation induced segregation (RIS); or, (b) equilibrium G or Γ2 phases, that precipitate at accelerated rates due to radiation enhanced diffusion (RED). Note the latter is consistent with both thermodynamic models and x-ray diffraction (XRD) measurements. Both the experimental and an independently calibrated cluster dynamics (CD) model results show that the stability of the MNSPs is very sensitive to the alloy Ni and, to a lesser extent, Mn content. Thus, a small fraction of the largest MNSPs in the high Ni steel persist, and begin to coarsen at long times. These results suggest that the MNSPs remain a stable phase, even at 105 °C higher than they formed at, thus are most certainly equilibrium phases at much lower service relevant temperatures of ≈290 °C.

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