The role of hydrides and precipitates on the strain localisation behaviour in a zirconium alloy

R. Thomas, D. Lunt, Michael Atkinson, J. Quinta Da Fonseca, M. Preuss, P. Honniball, P. Frankel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In service, zirconium alloys undergo aqueous corrosion and hydrogen is absorbed, which can lead to the formation of hydrides. Hydrides, as well as the precipitates in zirconium alloys, affect the mechanical performance, though their contribution to plasticity is not yet understood. This study uses a combination of high-resolution digital image correlation and electron backscatter diffraction to quantify the strain partitioning between the different phases. Following uniaxial tensile deformation, it was found that the average strain within the δ-ZrH and Zr(Fe,Cr)2 was lower than in the α-Zr. Shear bands in the α-Zr matrix were observed to interact with small and medium sized hydride in multiple ways, such as terminating at the interface, cracking and shear around the interface or causing plastic slip in the hydride. Large hydrides showed a particularly detrimental effect on deformation behaviour, with large strain localisations and cracking observed at interfaces, which are typically precursors to failure. In contrast, the Zr(Fe,Cr)2 precipitates remained undeformed and forced the expected metal-matrix lattice rotation. The importance of these observations in context of fuel cladding integrity is discussed.
Original languageEnglish
JournalActa Materialia
Early online date2 Sept 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Sept 2023


  • Strain partitioning
  • Hydrides
  • EBSD
  • Zirconium alloys
  • Nuclear
  • microcracking


Dive into the research topics of 'The role of hydrides and precipitates on the strain localisation behaviour in a zirconium alloy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this