United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Probabilistic Fracture Mechanics — Models, Parameters, and Uncertainty Treatment Used in FAVOR Version 04.1 (NUREG-1807)

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Publication Information

Manuscript Completed May 2006
Date Published: June 2007

Prepared by:
M. EricksonKirk, B.R. Bass, T. Dickson,
C. Pugh, T. Santos, P. Williams

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

During plant operation, the walls of reactor pressure vessels (RPVs) are exposed to neutron radiation, resulting in localized embrittlement of the vessel steel and weld materials in the core area. If an embrittled RPV had an existing flaw of critical size and certain severe system transients were to occur, the flaw could very rapidly propagate through the vessel, resulting in a through-wall crack and challenging the integrity of the RPV. The severe transients of concern, known as pressurized thermal shock (PTS), are characterized by a rapid cooling (i.e., thermal shock) of the internal RPV surface in combination with repressurization of the RPV. Advancements in our understanding and knowledge of materials behavior, our ability to realistically model plant systems and operational characteristics, and our ability to better evaluate PTS transients to estimate loads on vessel walls led the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to realize that the earlier analysis, conducted in the course of developing the PTS Rule in the 1980s, contained significant conservatisms.

This report, which describes the technical basis for the probabilistic fracture mechanics model, is one of a series of 21 other documents detailing the results of the NRC study.

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