Accelerated irradiation experiments have been carried out on submerged-arc welds to obtain validation of trend curves built up from surveillance results. This was done by withdrawing surveillance specimens and re-irradiating them in higher flux positions. One batch, from weld HS, showed a significantly higher increase in the Charpy ΔT40J value than that for weld LS at a similar dose. Work done to explain this difference is described in this paper.
Selected Charpy specimens were examined using a shielded scanning electron microscope to determine the fracture modes present. Regions of mixed cleavage, micro-void coalescence (MVC) and intergranular failure (IGF) were found on HS weld specimens fractured in the transition region. The IGF was confined to certain regions within each weld bead. Significantly less IGF was found on LS weld specimens. Upper shelf specimens from both welds showed a fully ductile MVC fracture structure.
Sub-fracture surface ‘matchstick’ specimens were removed from embrittled regions and fractured within a scanning Auger microscope. IGF occurred in these specimens, and phosphorus was found to be the main grain boundary segregant. The levels of phosphorus increased with increasing neutron dose. No other embrittling element was consistently found at any significant level, but carbon was also found on grain boundary surfaces in some cases. The grain boundary coverage of phosphorus was determined for each weld at several neutron dose levels. These results have been compared with previous data obtained from surveillance dose specimens and some start-of-life data.