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Title: Light Water Reactor Sustainability Program Grizzly Year-End Progress Report

The Grizzly software application is being developed under the Light Water Reactor Sustainability (LWRS) program to address aging and material degradation issues that could potentially become an obstacle to life extension of nuclear power plants beyond 60 years of operation. Grizzly is based on INL’s MOOSE multiphysics simulation environment, and can simultaneously solve a variety of tightly coupled physics equations, and is thus a very powerful and flexible tool with a wide range of potential applications. Grizzly, the development of which was begun during fiscal year (FY) 2012, is intended to address degradation in a variety of critical structures. The reactor pressure vessel (RPV) was chosen for an initial application of this software. Because it fulfills the critical roles of housing the reactor core and providing a barrier to the release of coolant, the RPV is clearly one of the most safety-critical components of a nuclear power plant. In addition, because of its cost, size and location in the plant, replacement of this component would be prohibitively expensive, so failure of the RPV to meet acceptance criteria would likely result in the shutting down of a nuclear power plant. The current practice used to perform engineering evaluations of the susceptibilitymore » of RPVs to fracture is to use the ASME Master Fracture Toughness Curve (ASME Code Case N-631 Section III). This is used in conjunction with empirically based models that describe the evolution of this curve due to embrittlement in terms of a transition temperature shift. These models are based on an extensive database of surveillance coupons that have been irradiated in operating nuclear power plants, but this data is limited to the lifetime of the current reactor fleet. This is an important limitation when considering life extension beyond 60 years. The currently available data cannot be extrapolated with confidence further out in time because there is a potential for additional damage mechanisms (i.e. late blooming phases) to become active later in life beyond the current operational experience. To develop a tool that can eventually serve a role in decision-making, it is clear that research and development must be perfomed at multiple scales. At the engineering scale, a multiphysics analysis code that can capture the thermomechanical response of the RPV under accident conditions, including detailed fracture mechanics evaluations of flaws with arbitrary geometry and orientation, is needed to assess whether the fracture toughness, as defined by the master curve, including the effects of embrittlement, is exceeded. At the atomistic scale, the fundamental mechanisms of degradation need to be understood, including the effects of that degradation on the relevant material properties. In addition, there is a need to better understand the mechanisms leading to the transition from ductile to brittle fracture through improved continuum mechanics modeling at the fracture coupon scale. Work is currently being conducted at all of these levels with the goal of creating a usable engineering tool informed by lower length-scale modeling. This report summarizes progress made in these efforts during FY 2013.« less
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Technical Report
Research Org:
Idaho National Laboratory (INL)
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Country of Publication:
United States
11 NUCLEAR FUEL CYCLE AND FUEL MATERIALS; Atomistic Simulation; Embrittlement; Fracture Mechanics; Grizzly; Reactor Pressure Vessel