Izvestiya vuzov. Yadernaya Energetika

The peer-reviewed scientific and technology journal. ISSN: 0204-3327

The Role of Nickel in Forming a Structure Providing Increased Service Properties of Reactor Structural Materials

9/23/2022 2022 - #03 Nuclear materials

Kuleshova E.A. Fedotov I.V. Stepanov N.V. Frolov A.S. Maltsev D.A. Safonov D.V.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.26583/npe.2022.3.11

UDC: 621.039.53

Nickel is an essential alloying element in steels used as structural materials in the most common nuclear power reactors of the VVER type. The paper considers the results of structural studies of traditional and advanced materials of the vessel and internals of VVER-type reactors with a high content of nickel in the composition. It is shown that an increased content (up to 5 wt.%) of nickel in the steels of VVER reactor vessels contributes to the formation of a more dispersed structure with a smaller size of substructural elements and an increased density of dislocations, as well as a higher volume density of carbide phases. The revealed features of the structure of the reactor vessel steel with a high content of nickel have the prerequisites for improving the strength and viscoplastic properties by increasing the number of barriers both for the movement of dislocations and for the propagation of a brittle crack. On the example of materials of VVER internals, it is shown that the nickel content increased in them up to 25 wt.% contributes to an increase in the volume density of radiation defects (dislocation loops of various types) and radiation-induced phase precipitates (G-phase). As nickel increases from 10 to 25 wt.%, there is a tendency to reduce swelling, which contributes to less shape change of the components of the internal devices. At the same time, in steel with the highest nickel content, the highest nickel content was found in the near-boundary regions of the matrix, which contributes to greater austenite stability and a lower probability of the formation of an embrittling α-phase. The data obtained in the work on the effect of nickel alloying on the structural phase state and service characteristics of steels were used in the development of new materials for vessels and internals of advanced reactors.


  1. Gurovich B.A., Kuleshova E.A., Frolov A.S., Maltsev D.A., Prikhodko K.E., Fedotova S.V., Margolin B.Z., Sorokin A.A. Investigation of High Temperature Annealing Effectiveness for Recovery of Radiation-Induced Structural Changes and Properties of 18Cr-10Ni-Ti austenitic stainless steels. J. Nucl. Mater. 2015, v. 465, pp. 565-581. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jnucmat.2015.06.045 .
  2. Kursevich I.P., Karzov G.P., Margolin B.Z., Sorokin A.A., Tepluhina I.V. Principles of Alloying a Novel Radiation-Resistant Austenitic Steel for the VVER-1200 Reactor Internals Guaranteeing their Safe Operation for at Least 60 Years. Voprosy Materialovedeniya. 2012, no. 3, pp. 146-160; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1134/S2075113313060099 (in Russian).
  3. Markov S.I., Balikoev A.G., Dub V.S., Lebedeva A.G., Gurovich B.A., Krikun E.V., Kuleshova E.A. Vessel Steels for Advanced Nuclear Power Plants. Tyazhyoloe Mashinostroenie. 2016, no. 7-8, pp. 2-8 (in Russian).
  4. Markov S.I. et al. Heat-Resistant and Radiation-Resistant Steel. Patent RF No. RU2633408C1, 2016 (in Russian).
  5. Mohrbacher H., Morris J.W., Krauss G. Fundamentals and Practical Approaches of Optimizing Martensitic Steels for Use Under Severe Operating Conditions. Proc. of the International Symposium on Wear Resistant Alloysfor the Mining and Processing Industry. 2018, pp. 93-157.
  6. GulyaevA. P., GulyaevA.A. Metal Science: Textbook for Universities. Moscow. Al’yans Publ., 2011, 643 p. (in Russian).
  7. Jia-jia Qiu, Min Zhang, Gu-hui Gao, Zhun-li Tan, Bing-zhe Bai. Research and Modeling on Correlation Among Microstructure, Yield Strength and Process of Bainite/Martensite Steel. J. Iron Steel Res. Int. 2020, v. 27, no. 7, pp. 834-841; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s42243-020-00389-x .
  8. Morris J.W. Jr., Guo Z., Krenn C. R., Kim Y.-H. The Limits of Strength and Toughness in Steel. ISIJ Int. 2001, v. 41, no. 6, pp. 599-611; DOI: https://doi.org/10.2355/isijinternational.41.599 .
  9. Garcia-Mateo C., Caballero F.G., Capdevila C., de Andres C. Garcia. Estimation of Dislocation Density in Bainitic Microstructures Using High-Resolution Dilatometry. Scr. Mater. Acta Materialia Inc. 2009, v. 61, no. 9, pp. 855-858; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scriptamat.2009.07.013 .
  10. Michaud P., Delagnes D., Lamesle P., Mathon M.H., Levaillant C. The Effect of the Addition of Alloying Elements on Carbide Precipitation and Mechanical Properties in 5% Chromium Martensitic Steels. Acta Mater. 2007, v. 55, no. 14, pp. 4877-4889; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.actamat.2007.05.004 .
  11. Thuvander M., Magnusson H., Borggren U. Carbide Precipitation in a Low Alloyed Steel During Aging Studied by Atom Probe Tomography and Thermodynamic Modeling. Metals. 2021, v. 11, no. 12, p. 2009; DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/met11122009 .
  12. Kuleshova E.A., Gurovich B.A., Bukina Z.V., Frolov A.S., Maltsev D.A., Krikun E.V., Zhurko D.A., Zhuchkov G.M. Mechanisms of Radiation Embrittlement of VVER-1000 RPV Steel at Irradiation temperatures of (50 – 400)°C. J. Nucl. Mater. 2017, v. 490, pp. 247-259; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jnucmat.2017.04.035 .
  13. Kuleshova E.A., Frolov A.S., Zhuchkov G.M., Fedotov I.V. Radiation-Induced Phase Formation in Steels of VVER Reactor Pressure Vessels Containing ~ 0.3 – 1.3 wt. % Nickel. Fizika Metallov i Metallovedenie. 2019, v. 120, no. 5, pp. 505–511; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1134/S0031918X19050107 .
  14. Kuleshova E.A., Zhuchkov G.M., Fedotova S.V., Maltsev D.A., Frolov A.S., Fedotov I.V. Precipitation Kinetics of Radiation-Induced Ni-Mn-Si Phases in VVER-1000 Reactor Pressure Vessel Steels Under Low and High Flux Irradiation. J. Nucl. Mater. 2021. v. 553, 153091; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jnucmat.2021.153091 .
  15. Stofanak R.J., Poskie T.J., Li Y.Y., Wire G.L. Irradiation Damage Behavior of Low Alloy Steel Wrought and Weld Materials. Proc. of the VI-th Intern. Symposium on Environmental Degradation of Materials in Nuclear Power Systems – Water Reactors. 1993, pp. 757-764.
  16. Xiaoqiang Li. The Effect of the Stacking Fault Energy on the Post-Irradiation Behavior of Austenitic Stainless Steels Under Pressurized Water Reactor Conditions. Gent, Belgium. UGent – Universiteit Gent, 2009, 250 p.
  17. Margolin B.Z., Kursevich I.P., Sorokin A.A., Neustroev V.S. The Relationship of Radiation Embrittlement and Swelling for Austenitic Steels for WWER Internals. Proc. of the ASME 2009, Pressure Vessels and Piping Conference. Prague, Czech Republic, July 26-30, 2009. Vol. 6: Materials and Fabrication, Parts A and B., pp. 939-948; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1115/PVP2009-77078 .
  18. Margolin B.Z. et al. Radiation-Resistant Austenitic Steel for an Internal Baffle for Pressurized Water Reactors. Patent RF, No. RU2703318C1, 2019 (in Russian).
  19. Garner F.A. Irradiation Performance of Cladding and Structural Steels in Liquid Metal Reactors. Materials Science and Technology (Vol. 10A): A Comprehensive Treatment, VCH Publishers. 1994, pp. 419-543; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/9783527603978.mst0110 .
  20. Young D.J. High Temperature Oxidation and Corrosion of Metals. 2-nd edition. Elsevier, 2016, 758 p.; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-08-100101-1.00001-7 .
  21. Stress Corrosion Cracking of Nickel Based Alloys in Water-Cooled Nuclear Reactors. The Coriou Effect. Edited by Feron D., Staehle R.W. 1-st edition. Elsevier, 2016, 384 p.; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-08-100049-6.00001-X .

steels of RPV steels of internals nickel structural characteristics service properties swelling radiation resistance

Link for citing the article: Kuleshova E.A., Fedotov I.V., Stepanov N.V., Frolov A.S., Maltsev D.A., Safonov D.V. The Role of Nickel in Forming a Structure Providing Increased Service Properties of Reactor Structural Materials. Izvestiya vuzov. Yadernaya Energetika. 2022, no. 3, pp. 120-133; DOI: https://doi.org/10.26583/npe.2022.3.11 (in Russian).