Review Article

Effect of Light Water Reactor Water Environments on the Fatigue Life of Reactor Materials

[+] Author and Article Information
O. K. Chopra

Environmental Science Division,
Argonne National Laboratory,
Argonne, IL 60439

G. L. Stevens

Structural Integrity Associates, Inc.,
11515 Vanstory Drive, Suite 125,
Huntersville, NC 28078

R. Tregoning, A. S. Rao

Division of Engineering,
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission,
Washington, DC 20555

Contributed by the Pressure Vessel and Piping Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF PRESSURE VESSEL TECHNOLOGY. Manuscript received November 19, 2016; final manuscript received January 25, 2017; published online October 6, 2017. Assoc. Editor: Steve J. Hensel.The United States Government retains, and by accepting the article for publication, the publisher acknowledges that the United States Government retains, a nonexclusive, paid-up, irrevocable, worldwide license to publish or reproduce the published form of this work, or allow others to do so, for United States government purposes.

J. Pressure Vessel Technol 139(6), 060801 (Oct 06, 2017) (21 pages) Paper No: PVT-16-1217; doi: 10.1115/1.4035885 History: Received November 19, 2016; Revised January 25, 2017

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code (Code) provides rules for the design of Class 1 components of nuclear power plants. However, the Code design curves do not address the effects of light water reactor (LWR) water environments. Existing fatigue strain-versus-life (ε–N) data illustrate significant effects of LWR water environments on the fatigue resistance of pressure vessel and piping steels. Extensive studies have been conducted at Argonne National Laboratory (Argonne) and elsewhere to investigate the effects of LWR environments on the fatigue life. This article summarizes the results of these studies. The existing fatigue ε–N data were evaluated to identify the various material, environmental, and loading conditions that influence the fatigue crack initiation; a methodology for estimating fatigue lives as a function of these parameters was developed. The effects were incorporated into the ASME Code Section III fatigue evaluations in terms of an environmental correction factor, Fen, which is the ratio of fatigue life in air at room temperature to the life in the LWR water environment at reactor operating temperatures. Available fatigue data were used to develop fatigue design curves for carbon and low-alloy steels, austenitic stainless steels (SSs), and nickel–chromium–iron (Ni–Cr–Fe) alloys and their weld metals. A review of the Code Section III fatigue adjustment factors of 2 and 20 is also presented, and the possible conservatism inherent in the choice is evaluated. A brief description of potential effects of neutron irradiation on fatigue crack initiation is presented.

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Fig. 1

Fatigue ε–N data for low-alloy steels (left) and austenitic SSs (right) in water compared to the ASME Code air design curves; RT, room temperature (25 °C (77 °F))

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Fig. 2

Estimated cumulative distribution of constant A in the Argonne models for fatigue life data for heats of (a) low–alloy steels and (b) austenitic SSs, in air

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Fig. 3

Fatigue design curve for carbon steels in air. The curve developed from the Argonne model is based on factors of 12 on life and 2 on stress.

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Fig. 4

Fatigue design curve for low-alloy steels in air. The curve developed from the Argonne model is based on factors of 12 on life and 2 on stress.

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Fig. 5

Fatigue design curves for austenitic SSs in air

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Fig. 6

Schematic illustration of (a) growth of short cracks in smooth specimens as a function of fatigue life fraction and (b) crack velocity as a function of crack depth

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Fig. 7

Fatigue life of low-alloy steel [left 22,53] and austenitic SSs [right 24,28,32,43] as a function of strain rate in air and LWR environments

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Fig. 8

Fatigue life of carbon steel [5] and Type 304 austenitic SS [1315,17,24,28] as a function of temperature in air and LWR environments

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Fig. 9

Strain amplitude versus fatigue life data for (a) Type 304 and (b) Type 316NG SSs in water at 288 °C [24,28]

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Fig. 10

Application of the modified rate approach to determine the environmental fatigue correction factor, Fen, during the increasing strain portion of a transient




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