Journal of Materials Science

, Volume 26, Issue 8, pp 2063–2070 | Cite as

Helium-induced weld cracking in austenitic and martensitic steels

  • H. T. Lin
  • B. A. Chin


Helium was uniformly implanted into type 316 stainless steel and Sandvik HT-9 (12Cr-1 MoVW) to levels of 0.18 to 256 and 0.3 to 1 a.p.p.m., respectively, using the “tritium trick” technique. Autogenous bead-on-plate, full penetration, welds were then produced under fully constrained conditions using the gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW) process. The control and hydrogen-charged plates of both alloys were sound and free of any weld defects. For the 316 stainless steel, catastrophic intergranular fracture occurred in the heat-affected zone (HAZ) of welds with helium levels ≥2.5 a.p.p.m. In addition to the HAZ cracking, brittle fracture along the centreline of the fusion zone was also observed for the welds containing greater than 100 a.p.p.m. He. For HT-9, intergranular cracking occurred in the HAZ along prior-austenite grain boundaries of welds containing 1 a.p.p.m. He. Electron microscopy observations showed that the cracking in the HAZ originated from the growth and coalescence of grain-boundary helium bubbles and that the fusion-zone cracking resulted from the growth of helium bubbles at dendrite boundaries. The bubble growth kinetics in the HAZ is dominated by stress-induced diffusion of vacancies into bubbles. Results of this study indicate that the use of conventional GTAW techniques to repair irradiation-degraded materials containing even small amounts of helium may be difficult.


Tritium Brittle Fracture Fusion Zone Intergranular Fracture Bubble Growth 
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Copyright information

© Chapman and Hall Ltd. 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. T. Lin
    • 1
  • B. A. Chin
    • 1
  1. 1.Materials EngineeringAuburn UniversityUSA

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