The current federal regulations to ensure that nuclear reactor pressure vessels (RPVs) maintain their structural integrity when subjected to transients such as pressurized thermal shock (PTS) events were derived from computational models that were developed in the early to mid 1980s. Since that time, there have been advancements in relevant technologies associated with the physics of PTS events that impact RPV integrity assessment. Preliminary studies performed in 1999 suggested that application of the improved technology could reduce the conservatism in the current regulations while continuing to provide reasonable assurance of adequate protection to public health and safety. A relaxation of PTS regulations could have profound implications for plant license extension considerations. Based on the above, in 1999, the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (USNRC) initiated a comprehensive project, with the nuclear power industry as a participant, to re-evaluate the current PTS regulations within the framework established by modern probabilistic risk assessment (PRA) techniques. During the last three years, improved computational models have evolved through interactions between experts in the relevant disciplines of thermal hydraulics, PRA, human reliability analysis (HRA), materials embrittlement effects on fracture toughness (crack initiation and arrest), fracture mechanics methodology, and fabrication-induced flaw characterization. These experts were from the NRC staff, their contractors, and representatives from the nuclear industry. These improved models have now been implemented into the FAVOR (Fracture Analysis of Vessels: Oak Ridge) computer code, which is an applications tool for performing risk-informed structural integrity evaluations of embrittled RPVs subjected to transient thermal-hydraulic loading conditions. The baseline version of FAVOR (version 1.0) was released in October 2001. The updated risk-informed computational methodology in the FAVOR code is currently being applied to selected domestic commercial pressurized water reactors to evaluate the adequacy of the current regulations and to determine whether a technical basis can be established to support a relaxation of the current regulations. This paper provides a status report on the application of the updated computational methodology to a commercial pressurized water reactor (PWR) and discusses the results and interpretation of those results. It is anticipated that this re-evaluation effort will be completed in 2002.
- Nuclear Engineering Division
Status of the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission Pressurized Thermal Shock Rule Re-Evaluation Project
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Dickson, TL, Malik, SN, Kirk, MT, & Jackson, DA. "Status of the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission Pressurized Thermal Shock Rule Re-Evaluation Project." Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Nuclear Engineering. 10th International Conference on Nuclear Engineering, Volume 1. Arlington, Virginia, USA. April 14–18, 2002. pp. 389-397. ASME. https://doi.org/10.1115/ICONE10-22656
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