Corrosion of Zirconium Alloys Used for Nuclear Fuel Cladding

Arthur T. Motta, Adrien Couet, Robert J. Comstock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

357 Scopus citations


During operation, nuclear fuel rods are immersed in the primary water, causing waterside corrosion and consequent hydrogen ingress. In this review, the mechanisms of corrosion and hydrogen pickup and the role of alloy selection in minimizing both phenomena are considered on the basis of two principal characteristics: the pretransition kinetics and the loss of oxide protectiveness at transition. In zirconium alloys, very small changes in composition or microstructure can cause significant corrosion differences so that corrosion performance is strongly alloy dependent. The alloys show different, but reproducible, subparabolic pretransition kinetics and transition thicknesses. A mechanism for oxide growth and breakup based on a detailed study of the oxide structure can explain these results. Through the use of the recently developed coupled current charge compensation model of corrosion kinetics and hydrogen pickup, the subparabolic kinetics and the hydrogen fraction can be rationalized: Hydrogen pickup increases when electron transport decreases, requiring hydrogen ingress to close the reaction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)311-343
Number of pages33
JournalAnnual Review of Materials Research
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Materials Science


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