A. V. Flores, A. G. Gomez, G. A. Juarez, N. Loureiro, R. I. Samper, J. R. Santisteban, M. A. Vicente Alvarez, A. Tolley, A. Condó, R. D. Bianchi, A. D. Banchik, P. Vizcaíno
September 4, 2014
The different microstructures typically found in nuclear components made of zirconium alloys are discussed in this paper. These include material in a variety of thermo-mechanical conditions, e. g., cold rolled, stress relieved, recrystallized, welded, biphasic, together with minority second phases belonging to the original material or incorporated due to in-service conditions. The anisotropic crystalline structure of zirconium is exploited in microscopical observations by means of polarizer filters that enhance the contrast between different grains, and greatly aid the identification in most microstructures. Most microstructural variations across a wide range of length-scales, such as those produced by welding processes, can be effectively resolved by traditional optical microscopy (OM). However, some finer microstructures like those found in CANDU 1 (CANada Deuterium Uranium) reactor pressure tube material, or some minority second phase particles like the Zr(Fe, Cr) 2 precipitates in Zircaloy-4 cannot be completely resolved by this technique. Thus, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) are required in such cases. For SEM observations we show the valuable issue of the scale in specific microstructural studies, which allows quantifying microstructural parameters using image analysis. For TEM observations, we have greatly benefited from the electron diffraction diagrams, which have allowed us to investigate the crystalline structure of irradiated second phase particles, which would remain unnoticed to both, OM or SEM observations.