Laser welding is usually a more effective method than electron-beam one since a vacuum chamber is not required. It is important for joining Zr–1%Nb (E110) alloy in a manufacturing process of nuclear fuel rods. In the present work, effect of energy parameters of pulsed laser welding on properties of butt joints of sheets with a thickness of 0.5 mm is investigated. The most efficient combination has been found (8–11 J pulse energy, 10–14 ms pulse duration, 780–810 W peak pulse power, 3 Hz pulse frequency, 1.12 mm/s welding speed). The results show that ultimate strength under static loading can not be used as a quality criterion for zirconium alloys welds. Increased shielding gas flow rate does not allow to protect weld metal totally and contributes to defect formation without using special nozzles. Several types of imperfections of the welds have been found, but the major problem is branching microcracks on the surface of the welds. It is difficult to identify the cause of their appearance without additional research on improving the welding zone protection (gas composition and flow rate as well as nozzle configuration) and studying the hydrogen content in the welds.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Nuclear Energy and Engineering