The key component of WWER is the Reactor Pressure Vessel (RPV). The evaluation and prognosis of RPV material embrittlement and the allowable period of its safe operation are performed on the basis of impact test results of irradiated surveillance specimens (SS). The main problem is that the SS irradiation conditions (temperature of SS, neutron flux and neutron spectrum) have not been determined yet with the necessary accuracy. These conditions could differ from the actual RPV condition. In particular, the key issue is the possible difference between the irradiation temperature of the SS and the actual RPV temperature. It is recognized that the direct measurement of temperature by thermocouples during reactor operation is the only way for receiving reliable information. In addition, the neutron field’s parameters for surveillance specimens have not been determined yet with the necessary accuracy. The use of state of the art dosimeters can provide high accuracy in the determination of the neutron exposure level. The COBRA project (, which started in August 2000 and had a duration of three years, was designed to solve the above-mentioned problems. Surveillance capsules were manufactured which contain state of art dosimeters and temperature monitors (melting alloys). In addition, thermocouples were installed throughout the instrumentation channels of the vessel head to measure directly the irradiation temperature in the surveillance position during the reactor operation. The selected reactor was the Unit 3 of Kola NPP situated in the arctic area of Russia. Irradiation of the capsules and online temperature measurements were performed during one fuel cycle. On the base of statistical processing of thermocouples readings the temperature of irradiated surveillance specimens in WWER-440/213 reactor can be accepted as 269.5±4°C. The results obtained show that there is not need in temperature correction when data of surveillance specimens studies are used for assessment of WWER-440/213 reactor pressure vessels. Maximum neutron flux evaluated using detectors, which were placed in the Charpy specimen simulators, equals ∼2.7·1012 cm−2s−1 with E>0.5 MeV. It is established that depending on the orientation of the capsules with respect to the core, the detectors of the standard surveillance capsules can give both overestimated and underestimated neutron flux values, as compared to the actual flux received by the surveillance specimens. The overestimation or underestimation can reach 10%.

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