Detection and Sizing of Defects in Control Rod Drive Mechanism Penetrations Using Eddy Current and Ultrasonics

[+] Author and Article Information
G. M. Light, J. L Fisher, R. F. Tennis, J. S. Stolte, G. J. Hendrix

Southwest Research Institute, 6220 Culebra Road, P.O. Drawer 28510, San Antonio, TX 78228-0510

J. Pressure Vessel Technol 118(3), 301-307 (Aug 01, 1996) (7 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2842192 History: Received January 21, 1994; Revised July 24, 1995; Online February 11, 2008


Over the last two years, concern has been generated about the capabilities of performing nondestructive evaluation (NDE) of the closure-head penetrations in nuclear-reactor pressure vessels. These penetrations are primarily for instrumentation and control rod drive mechanisms (CRDMs) and are usually thick-walled Inconel tubes, which are shrink-fttted into the steel closure head. The penetrations are then welded between the outside surface of the penetration and the inside surface of the closure head. Stress corrosion cracks initiating at the inner surface of the penetration have been reported at several plants. Through-wall cracks in the CRDM penetration or CRDM weld could lead to loss of coolant in the reactor vessel. The CRDM penetration presents a complex inspection geometry for conventional NDE techniques. A thermal sleeve, through which pass the mechanical linkages for operating the control rods, is inserted into the penetration in such a way that only a small annulus (nominally 3 mm) exists between the thermal sleeve and inside surface of the penetration. Ultrasonic (UT) and eddy current testing (ET) techniques that could be used to provide defect detection and sizing capability were investigated. NDE techniques that could be applied inside and outside the annulus were investigated, but the major goal was to provide high defect-detection sensitivity without requiring removal of the thermal sleeve. As a result of this investigation, both ET and UT techniques for the CRDM penetrations have been developed and evaluated. Long, thin probes were designed to fit into the annulus to carry both eddy current coils and irrigated ultrasonic transducers into the region of interest. The eddy current probes were used primarily to detect cracks in the penetration while the ultrasonic transducers were used to provide an estimate of the remaining wall thickness. This paper describes the ET and UT techniques, the probes developed, and the results obtained using these probes and techniques on CRDM penetration mock-ups.

Copyright © 1996 by The American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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