Radiation Embrittlement of Spanish Nuclear Reactor Pressure Vessel Steels

    Published: Jan 1993

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    Commercial pressurized water reactor (PWR) and boiling water reactor (BWR) nuclear power plants contain a series of pressure vessel steel surveillance capsules as the principal means of monitoring radiation effects on the pressure vessel. Changes in fracture toughness are more severe in surveillance capsules than in reactor vessel materials because of their proximity of the reactor core. Therefore, it is possible to predict changes in fracture toughness of the reactor vessel materials.

    This paper describes the status of the reactor vessel surveillance programs relating to Spanish nuclear power plants. To date, twelve capsules have been removed and analyzed from seven of the nine Spanish reactors in operation. The results obtained from the analysis of these capsules are compared with the predictions of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Regulatory Guide 1.99, Rev. 2, by means of measured and expected increase of the nil-ductility transition reference temperature (RTNDT). The comparison is made considering the different variables normally included in the studies of radiation response of reactor pressure vessel materials, such as copper content of steel, level of neutron fluence above 1 MeV, base metal or weld metal, and so forth. The surveillance data have been used for determining the adjusted reference temperatures and upper shelf energies at any time. The results have shown that the seven pressure vessels are in excellent condition to continue operating with safety against brittle fracture beyond the design life, without the need to recuperate the degraded properties of the materials by annealing of the vessel.


    light water reactors, radiation embrittlement, reactor pressure vessel, surveillance programs

    Author Information:

    Bros, J
    Components Integrity Group, Tecnatom, San Sebastián de los Reyes, (Madrid),

    Ballesteros, A
    Components Integrity Group, Tecnatom, San Sebastián de los Reyes, (Madrid),

    López, A
    Components Integrity Group, Tecnatom, San Sebastián de los Reyes, (Madrid),

    Committee/Subcommittee: E10.08

    DOI: 10.1520/STP24761S

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