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Title: Evaluation on the Feasibility of Using Ultrasonic Testing of Reactor Pressure Vessel Welds for Assessing Flaw Density/Distribution per 10 CFR 50.61a, Alternate Fracture Toughness Requirements for Protection Against Pressurized Thermal Shock

Abstract

This technical letter report provides the status of an assessment undertaken by PNNL at the request of the NRC to verify the capability of periodic ASME-required volumetric examinations of reactor vessels to characterize the density and distribution of flaws of interest for applying §50.61a on a plant-by-plant basis. The PTS rule, described in the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 10, Section 50.61 (§50.61), "Fracture Toughness Requirements for Protection against Pressurized Thermal Shock Events," establishes screening criteria to ensure that the potential for a reactor vessel to fail due to a PTS event is deemed to be acceptably low. Recently, the NRC completed a research program that concluded that the risk of through-wall cracking due to a PTS event is much lower than previously estimated. The NRC subsequently developed and promulgated an alternate PTS rule, §50.61a, that can be implemented by PWR licensees. The §50.61a rule differs from §50.61 in that it requires licensees who choose to follow this alternate method to analyze the results from periodic volumetric examinations required by the ASME Code, Section XI, Rules for Inservice Inspection (ISI) of Nuclear Power Plants.

Authors:
;
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1136240
Report Number(s):
PNNL-19666
401001060
DOE Contract Number:
AC05-76RL01830
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
PTS; pressurized thermal shock; alternate PTS rule

Citation Formats

Sullivan, Edmund J., and Anderson, Michael T. Evaluation on the Feasibility of Using Ultrasonic Testing of Reactor Pressure Vessel Welds for Assessing Flaw Density/Distribution per 10 CFR 50.61a, Alternate Fracture Toughness Requirements for Protection Against Pressurized Thermal Shock. United States: N. p., 2014. Web. doi:10.2172/1136240.
Sullivan, Edmund J., & Anderson, Michael T. Evaluation on the Feasibility of Using Ultrasonic Testing of Reactor Pressure Vessel Welds for Assessing Flaw Density/Distribution per 10 CFR 50.61a, Alternate Fracture Toughness Requirements for Protection Against Pressurized Thermal Shock. United States. doi:10.2172/1136240.
Sullivan, Edmund J., and Anderson, Michael T. Tue . "Evaluation on the Feasibility of Using Ultrasonic Testing of Reactor Pressure Vessel Welds for Assessing Flaw Density/Distribution per 10 CFR 50.61a, Alternate Fracture Toughness Requirements for Protection Against Pressurized Thermal Shock". United States. doi:10.2172/1136240. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1136240.
@article{osti_1136240,
title = {Evaluation on the Feasibility of Using Ultrasonic Testing of Reactor Pressure Vessel Welds for Assessing Flaw Density/Distribution per 10 CFR 50.61a, Alternate Fracture Toughness Requirements for Protection Against Pressurized Thermal Shock},
author = {Sullivan, Edmund J. and Anderson, Michael T.},
abstractNote = {This technical letter report provides the status of an assessment undertaken by PNNL at the request of the NRC to verify the capability of periodic ASME-required volumetric examinations of reactor vessels to characterize the density and distribution of flaws of interest for applying §50.61a on a plant-by-plant basis. The PTS rule, described in the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 10, Section 50.61 (§50.61), "Fracture Toughness Requirements for Protection against Pressurized Thermal Shock Events," establishes screening criteria to ensure that the potential for a reactor vessel to fail due to a PTS event is deemed to be acceptably low. Recently, the NRC completed a research program that concluded that the risk of through-wall cracking due to a PTS event is much lower than previously estimated. The NRC subsequently developed and promulgated an alternate PTS rule, §50.61a, that can be implemented by PWR licensees. The §50.61a rule differs from §50.61 in that it requires licensees who choose to follow this alternate method to analyze the results from periodic volumetric examinations required by the ASME Code, Section XI, Rules for Inservice Inspection (ISI) of Nuclear Power Plants.},
doi = {10.2172/1136240},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {Tue Jun 10 00:00:00 EDT 2014},
month = {Tue Jun 10 00:00:00 EDT 2014}
}

Technical Report:

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  • Pressurized thermal shock (PTS) events are system transients in a pressurized water reactor (PWR) in which there is a rapid operating temperature cool-down that results in cold vessel temperatures with or without repressurization of the vessel. The rapid cooling of the inside surface of the reactor pressure vessel (RPV) causes thermal stresses that can combine with stresses caused by high pressure. The aggregate effect of these stresses is an increase in the potential for fracture if a pre-existing flaw is present in a material susceptible to brittle failure. The ferritic, low alloy steel of the reactor vessel beltline adjacent tomore » the core, where neutron radiation gradually embrittles the material over the lifetime of the plant, can be susceptible to brittle fracture. The PTS rule, described in the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 10, Section 50.61 (§50.61), “Fracture Toughness Requirements for Protection against Pressurized Thermal Shock Events,” adopted on July 23, 1985, establishes screening criteria to ensure that the potential for a reactor vessel to fail due to a PTS event is deemed to be acceptably low. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) completed a research program that concluded that the risk of through-wall cracking due to a PTS event is much lower than previously estimated. The NRC subsequently developed a rule, §50.61a, published on January 4, 2010, entitled “Alternate Fracture Toughness Requirements for Protection Against Pressurized Thermal Shock Events” (75 FR 13). Use of the new rule by licensees is optional. The §50.61a rule differs from §50.61 in that it requires licensees who choose to follow this alternate method to analyze the results from periodic volumetric examinations required by the ASME Code, Section XI, Rules for Inservice Inspection (ISI) of Nuclear Power Plants. These analyses are intended to determine if the actual flaw density and size distribution in the licensee’s reactor vessel beltline welds are bounded by the flaw density and size distribution values used in the PTS technical basis. Under a contract with the NRC, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) has been working on a program to assess the ability of current inservice inspection (ISI)-ultrasonic testing (UT) techniques, as qualified through ASME Code, Appendix VIII, Supplements 4 and 6, to detect small fabrication or inservice-induced flaws located in RPV welds and adjacent base materials. As part of this effort, the investigators have pursued an evaluation, based on the available information, of the capability of UT to provide flaw density/distribution inputs for making RPV weld assessments in accordance with §50.61a. This paper presents the results of an evaluation of data from the 1993 Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant, Unit 3, Spirit of Appendix VIII reactor vessel examination, a comparison of the flaw density/distribution from this data with the distribution in §50.61a, possible reasons for differences, and plans and recommendations for further work in this area.« less
  • The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is developing a generalized fabrication flaw distribution for the population of nuclear reactor pressure vessels and for piping welds in U.S. operating reactors. The purpose of the generalized flaw distribution is to predict component-specific flaw densities. The estimates of fabrication flaws are intended for use in fracture mechanics structural integrity assessments. Structural integrity assessments, such as estimating the frequency of loss-of-coolant accidents, are performed by computer codes that require, as input, accurate estimates of flaw densities. Welds from four different reactor pressure vessels and a collection of archived pipes have been studied to develop empiricalmore » estimates of fabrication flaw densities. This report describes the fabrication flaw distribution and characterization in the repair weld metal of vessels and piping. This work indicates that large flaws occur in these repairs. These results show that repair flaws are complex in composition and sometimes include cracks on the ends of the repair cavities. Parametric analysis using an exponential fit is performed on the data. The relevance of construction records is established for describing fabrication processes and product forms. An analysis of these records shows there was a significant change in repair frequency over the years when these components were fabricated. A description of repair flaw morphology is provided with a discussion of fracture mechanics significance. Fabrication flaws in repairs are characterized using optimized-access, high-sensitivity nondestructive ultrasonic testing. Flaw characterizations are then validated by other nondestructive evaluation techniques and complemented by destructive testing.« less
  • The present reference toughness method for predicting the change in fracture toughness can provide over estimates of these values because of uncertainties in initial RT{sub NDT} and shift correlations. It would be preferable to directly measure fracture toughness. However, until recently, no standard method was available to characterize fracture toughness in the transition range. ASTM E08 has developed a draft standard that shows promise for providing lower bound transition range fracture toughness using the master curve approach. This method has been successfully implemented using 1T compact fracture specimens. Combustion Engineering reactor vessel surveillance programs do not have compact fracture specimens.more » Therefore, the CE Owners Group developed a program to validate the master curve method for Charpy-sized and reconstituted Charpy-sized specimens for future application on irradiated specimens. This method was validated for Linde 1092 welds using unirradiated Charpy-sized and reconstituted Charpy-sized specimens by comparison of results with those from compact fracture specimens.« less
  • Pressurized water reactor pressure vessels operate under US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) rules and regulatory guides that are intended to maintain a low probability of vessel failure. The NRC has also addressed neutron embrittlement of pressurized water reactor pressure vessels by imposing regulations on plant operation. Plants failing to meet the operating criteria specified by these rules and regulations are required, among other things, to analytically demonstrate fitness for service in order to continue safe operation. The initial flaw size or distribution of initial vessel flaws is a key input to the required vessel integrity analyses. A fracture mechanics sensitivitymore » study was performed to quantify the effect of the assumed flaw distribution on the predicted vessel performance under a specified pressurized thermal shock transient and to determine the critical crack size. Results of the analysis indicate that vessel performance in terms of the estimated probability of failure is very sensitive to the assumed flaw distribution. 20 refs., 3 figs., 2 tabs.« less