In the active zone of a nuclear reactor where zirconium alloys are used as a coating material, this material is subject to various harmful impacts. During water decomposition reactions, hydrogen and oxygen are evolved that may diffuse through the oxidic layer either through zirconium dioxide (ZrO2) crystals or along ZrO2 grains. The diffusion mechanism can be studied using the Ion Beam Analysis (IBA) method where nuclear reaction 18O(p,α)15N is used. A tube made of zirconium alloy E110 (with 1 wt. % of Nb) was used for making samples that were pre-exposed in UJP PRAHA a.s. and subsequently exposed to isotopically cleansed environment of H218O medium in an autoclave. The samples were analysed with gravimetric methods and IBA methods performed at the electrostatic particle accelerator Tandetron 4130 MC in the Nucler Physics Institute of the CAS, Řež. With IBA methods, the overall thicknesses of corrosion layers on the samples, element composition of the alloy and distribution of oxygen isotope 18O in the corrosion layer and its penetration in the alloy were identified. The retrieved data shows at the oxygen diffusion along ZrO2 grains because there are two peaks of 18O isotope concentrations in the corrosion layer. These peaks occur at the environment-oxide and oxide-metal interface. The element analysis identified the presence of undesirable hafnium.

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Industrial Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Materials Sciences, Ceramics and Glass