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Fracture behavior of recrystallized and stress-relieved Zircaloy-4 cladding under biaxial stress conditions

Mihara, Takeshi; Udagawa, Yutaka; Amaya, Masaki

Pellet-cladding mechanical interaction (PCMI) under reactivity-initiated accident conditions may lead to failure of high-burnup fuel rods. Zircaloy cladding tubes are subjected to biaxial stress states induced by PCMI loading. This type of stress state, specific to PCMI, presumably makes the tubes more susceptible to failure. To clarify the influence of the anisotropic mechanical properties of Zircaloy cladding tubes on their fracture behavior under biaxial stress conditions, biaxial tensile tests were performed, and the measured stresses and strains were converted to reduced parameters such as equivalent strain, equivalent stress, and stress triaxiality by using the anisotropic constants of the Hill yield function derived in our previous study. The minimum fracture strains for recrystallized (RX) and stress-relieved (SR) specimens were located where the stress ratio of axial to circumferential is 0.75 in the measured range. The equivalent plastic fracture strains tended to decrease monotonously with increasing stress triaxiality, which is a typical trend observed in ductile fracture, in the range of 0.65-0.78 for both specimens. In the case of SR specimens, however, the analysis with stress triaxiality did not reduce the fracture strains well to a single trend curve, showing that the anisotropic constants used in the present work or Hill yield function itself is not enough to describe the whole anisotropy involved in the fracture process of SR material.

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