Direct measurement of hydrogen diffusivity and solubility limits in Zircaloy 2 (formula unit of ZrH 0.0155 ) using incoherent quasi-elastic neutron scattering

Brent J. Heuser, Timothy R. Prisk, Jun li Lin, Tanya J. Dax, Yongfeng Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The diffusivity of hydrogen is an important property of light water nuclear reactor (LWR) fuel cladding. LWR cladding absorbs hydrogen during normal operation, a contributing factor to embrittlement that decreases the lifetime of the fuel. Mass transport of hydrogen is dictated by an Arrhenius behavior typical of solid state diffusion and the associated activation energy is therefore a property relevant to LWR fuel performance. We have used incoherent quasi-elastic neutron scattering (QENS) to directly measure the diffusivity of hydrogen in recrystallized Zircaloy 2 with a hydrogen concentration of 170 μg/g. We rely upon the low-Q expansion for long-range diffusion to determine diffusivity as a function of temperature between 572 and 780 K. We find the diffusivity is given by D(T) = 0.0067 exp (-0.461 eV/kT) [cm 2 /s] below 670 K and by D(T) = 0.0012 exp (-0.36 eV/kT) [cm 2 /s] above 670 K. Our activation energy below 670 K agrees with the value typically used to assess hydrogen diffusivity in LWR cladding [Kearns, Journal of Nuclear Materials 43 (1972) 330], but is approximately 20% lower above 670 K. The two different activation barriers are attributed to impurity trapping of hydrogen solutes at lower temperature that ceases to influence diffusivity at higher temperature. The application of the Oriani model for diffusion with impurity trapping to our system demonstrates the plausibility of this hypothesis. We believe this mechanism may be responsible for historical discrepancies of measured hydrogen diffusivity in Zr-based alloys. The elastic intensity versus temperature in fixed window scans exhibit inflection points that are in good agreement with the published terminal solid solution solubility limits for hydrogen in Zircaloy 2.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)177-189
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Nuclear Materials
StatePublished - May 2019


  • Activation energy
  • Hydrogen diffusion
  • Neutron scattering
  • Solubility limit
  • Zircaloy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering

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