United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Crack Growth Rates of Nickel Alloy Welds in a PWR Environment (NUREG/CR-6907)

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Publication Information

Manuscript Completed: January 2004
Date Published: May 2006

Prepared by:
B. Alexandreanu, O. K. Chopra, and W. J. Shack

Argonne National Laboratory
9700 South Cass Avenue
Argonne, IL 60439

W. H. Cullen, Jr., NRC Project Manager

Prepared for:
Division of Fuel, Engineering and Radiological Research
Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, DC 20555-0001

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Abstract

In light water reactors (LWRs), vessel internal components made of nickel–base alloys are susceptible to environmentally assisted cracking. A better understanding of the causes and mechanisms of this cracking may permit less conservative estimates of damage accumulation and requirements on inspection intervals. A program is being conducted at Argonne National Laboratory to evaluate the resistance of Ni alloys and their welds to environmentally assisted cracking in simulated LWR coolant environments. This report presents crack growth rate (CGR) results for Alloy 182 shielded–metal–arc weld metal in a simulated pressurized water reactor (PWR) environment at 320°C. Crack growth tests were conducted on 1–T compact tension specimens with different weld orientations from both double-J and deep-groove welds. The results indicate little or no environmental enhancement of fatigue CGRs of Alloy 182 weld metal in the PWR environment. The CGRs of Alloy 182 in the PWR environment are a factor of ≈5 higher than those of Alloy 600 in air under the same loading conditions. The stress corrosion cracking for the Alloy 182 weld is close to the average behavior of Alloy 600 in the PWR environment. The weld orientation was found to have a profound effect on the magnitude of crack growth: cracking was found to propagate faster along the dendrites than across them. The existing CGR data for Ni–alloy weld metals have been compiled and evaluated to establish the effects of key material, loading, and environmental parameters on CGRs in PWR environments. The results from the present study are compared with the existing CGR data for Ni–alloy welds to determine the relative susceptibility of the specific Ni–alloy weld to environmentally enhanced cracking.

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