Date of Award

Spring 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Aeronautics and Astronautics


Aeronautics and Astronautics

First Advisor

Vikas Tomar

Committee Chair

Vikas Tomar

Committee Member 1

Chin Teh Sun

Committee Member 2

Wenbin Yu


Zirconium (Zr) and zirconium-alloys have been utilized in the nuclear industry for decades, most commonly in nuclear fuel cladding. The characteristics which make Zr ideal for these applications include: low density, high hardness, high ductility, and high corrosion resistance. Efforts have been made to further enhance these properties through the use of Zr-alloys, such as Zircaloy-2 and Zircaloy-4, which are made up 95-99% Zr by weight, with the remaining weight percentage being made of other metals (tin, niobium, nickel, iron, chromium). The performance of these materials directly influences the efficiency of the nuclear reactor and are thus of primary concern. While the properties of these materials alone have been studied extensively, the nuclear reactor environment itself serves to degrade or enhance these properties, depending on the situation. The coupled effect of irradiation, high temperature, and microstructure is not understood. Each of these aspects uniquely influence the thermo-mechanical properties of these Zr-based materials and a better understanding of these coupled phenomena is necessary to effectively and efficiently design these nuclear reactor components. The aim of the following work is to experimentally investigate the effect of these coupled phenomena on the thermo-mechanical properties and viscoplastic response of Zr.