Volume 4, Issue 7 (July 2007)
Analysis of the Ductile-to-Brittle Transition Temperature Shift in a Commercial Power Plant With High Nickel Containing Weld Material
Plant specific surveillance programs that ideally include all relevant materials and materials combinations that are subjected to neutron irradiation during operation address the degradation due to irradiation of the reactor pressure vessel material for nuclear electric power plants. Plant specific surveillance programs are not unique to the two power plants treated in this study. The current Swedish regulatory system does, however, call for a fairly rigid approach within the surveillance program. In the Swedish case, this means that there is a plant specific predetermined inspection∕test program that has to be followed in order to verify the operability of the power plant and also to verify the operational limits with respect to pressure∕temperature effects on a repetitive basis. The two pressurized water reactor plants Ringhals 3 and 4 have in common that the weld metal used for the butt welds of the reactor pressure vessel is a high nickel type material, above the current limits of the NUREG Reg. Guide 1.99, rev. 2. In the original state, the high nickel content provides excellent fracture toughness in the unirradiated material condition and a low ductile-to-brittle transformation temperature (DBTT). It has, however, been highlighted in several studies that high nickel materials exhibit a very large DBTT shift as a consequence of irradiation, and also that the precipitates that form during the irradiation are not as easily controlled during a heat treatment to remove the irradiation damage as are the copper rich clusters. This paper will present the current state of the art regarding these effects as observed in the weld metal specimens. The paper will present the results from the Charpy V notched and fracture mechanics specimen test encapsulated in the Ringhals Units 3 and 4 surveillance programs. The results from the Ringhals Units 3 and 4 surveillance programs show that there is a need for corrective action to be taken in order to ensure 60 y of operability for the two power plants.