Review Article

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

[+] Author and Article Information
Omesh K. Chopra

Environmental Science Division Argonne National Laboratory Argonne, IL 60439

Gary L. Stevens

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

Robert Tregoning

Division of Engineering US Nuclear Regulatory Commission Washington, DC 20555

A. S. Rao

Division of Engineering US Nuclear Regulatory Commission Washington, DC 20555

1Corresponding author.

ASME 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-vs.-life (e-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 and elsewhere to investigate the effects of LWR environments on the fatigue life. This article summarizes the results of these studies. Existing fatigue e-N data were evaluated to identify the various material, environmental, and loading conditions that influence 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, 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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