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A new characterization approach for studying relationships between microstructure and creep damage mechanisms of uranium dioxide

Abstract : Four batches of UO2 pellets were studied comparatively, before and after creep tests, to evaluate a characterization methodology aimed to determine the links between microstructure and damage mechanisms induced by compressive creep of uranium dioxide at 1500 degre. They were observed by means of scanning electron microscopy (SEM) coupled with image analysis, to quantify their fabrication porosity and the occurrence of inter-granular cavities after creep, and electron back scattered diffraction (EBSD), especially to characterize sub-structures development associated with plastic deformation. Electron channeling contrast imaging (ECCI) was also applied to evidence dislocations, at an exploratory stage, on one of the deformed pellets. This approach helped to identify and quantify microstructural differences between batches. Their as-fabricated microstructures differed in terms of grain size and fabrication porosity distribution. The pellets which had the lowest strain rates were those with the largest number of intra-granular pores, regardless of their grain size. They also exhibited less numerous sub-boundaries within the grains. These first results clearly illustrate the benefit of systematic examinations of crept UO2 pellets at a mesoscopic scale, by SEM and EBSD, to study their deformation process. In addition, ECCI appears as a powerful tool to evidence local dislocations arrangements, in bulk samples. Even if the sampling was limited, the results of this study also tend to indicate that the intra-granular pores population, resulting from the manufacturing of the samples by powder metallurgy, could have a significant influence on the UO2 viscoplastic deformation mechanisms.
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Submitted on : Monday, December 9, 2019 - 11:08:17 PM
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X. Iltis, M. Ben Saada, H. Mansour, N. Gey, Alain Hazotte, et al.. A new characterization approach for studying relationships between microstructure and creep damage mechanisms of uranium dioxide. Journal of Nuclear Materials, Elsevier, 2016, 474, pp.1-7. ⟨10.1016/j.jnucmat.2016.02.027⟩. ⟨cea-02382809⟩



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