SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 2000

Irradiation, Annealing, and Reirradiation Effects on American and Russian Reactor Pressure Vessel Steels


One of the options to mitigate the effects of irradiation on reactor pressure vessels (RPVs) is to thermally anneal them to restore the toughness properties that have been degraded by neutron irradiation. Even though a postirradiation anneal may be deemed successful, a critical aspect of continued RPV operation is the rate of embrittlement upon reirradiation. There are insufficient data available to allow for verification of available models of reirradiation embrittlement or for the development of a reliable predictive methodology. This is especially true in the case of fracture toughness data. Under the U.S.-Russia Joint Coordinating Committee for Civilian Nuclear Reactor Safety (JCCCNRS), Working Group 3 on Radiation Embrittlement, Structural Integrity, and Life Extension of Reactor Vessels and Supports agreed to conduct a comparative study of annealing and reirradiation effects on RPV steels. The Working Group agreed that each side would irradiate, anneal, reirradiate (if feasible), and test two materials of the other. Charpy V-notch (CVN) and tensile specimens were included. Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) conducted such a program (irradiation and annealing, including static fracture toughness) with two weld metals representative of VVER-440 and VVER-1000 RPVs, while the Russian Research Center-Kurchatov Institute (RRC-KI) conducted a program (irradiation, annealing, reirradiation, and reannealing) with Heavy-Section Steel Technology (HSST) Program Plate 02 and Heavy-Section Steel Irradiation (HSSI) Program Weld 73W. The results for each material from each laboratory are compared with those from the other laboratory. The ORNL experiments with the VVER welds included irradiation to about 1 × 1019 n/cm2 (>1 MeV), while the RRC-KI experiments with the U.S. materials included irradiations from about 2 to 18 × 1019 n/cm2 (>1 MeV). In both cases, irradiations were conducted at ∼290 °C and annealing treatments were conducted at ∼454 °C. The ORNL and RRC-KI experiments have shown generally good agreement for both the Russian and U.S. steels. While recoveries of the Charpy 41-J transition temperatures were substantial in all cases, significantly less recovery of the lateral expansion and shear fracture in some cases (no recovery in one case) deserves further attention. The RRC-KI results for the U.S. steels showed reirradiation embrittlement rates which are conservative relative to the lateral shift prediction based on Charpy impact energy.

Author Information

Sokolov, MA
Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN
Chernobaeva, AA
Russian Research Center-Kurchatov Institute, Moscow, Russia
Nanstad, RK
Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN
Nikolaev, YA
Russian Research Center-Kurchatov Institute, Moscow, Russia
Korolev, YN
Russian Research Center-Kurchatov Institute, Moscow, Russia
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Developed by Committee: E10
Pages: 415–434
DOI: 10.1520/STP12405S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-5419-3
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-2852-1