Volume 6, Issue 7 (July 2009)
Final Results from the Crack Initiation and Arrest of Irradiated Steel Materials Project on Fracture Mechanical Assessments of Pre-Irradiated RPV Steels Used in German PWR
Pre-irradiated original reactor pressure vessel (RPV) materials covering all four German pressurized water reactors (PWR) construction lines were tested in the Crack Initiation and Arrest of Irradiated Steel Materials program to create a database of fracture toughness and arrest values for neutron fluences beyond the end of life range. The new database comprises data from both unirradiated and irradiated RPV base and weld materials generated by tensile, Charpy-V impact, fracture toughness KJc, and crack arrest KIa tests. The test matrix consists of materials with optimized chemical composition and with high Copper or high Nickel content, respectively. Based on the generated and already existing data the RTNDT and the RTT0 (Master Curve) concepts are applied with specific view on reference temperatures, transition temperature shifts, and on possible correlations between the criteria used in both concepts. In this context the consequences of some influencing factors like type and chemical composition of the RPV steel, its manufacturing conditions, and the specimen type and size on the reference temperatures are discussed. Moreover, the test results are assessed with respect to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) code and German Nuclear Safety Standards Commission safety standards. The crack arrest characteristics for these typical RPV materials are also determined in a twofold way by testing Compact Crack Arrest specimens and by evaluation of instrumented Charpy-V impact test data. The available results made a good point that crack arrest is a reliable phenomenon that doubtless exists. It is also shown that the obtained KIa data can be enveloped by applying the ASME KIc lower bound curve indexed by different reference temperatures. Finally, the results show that the used RPV materials are well designed in terms of material behavior under irradiated conditions and that optimized manufacture specifications are of great benefit particularly after long operation times.