Neutron bombardment of reactor pressure vessel (RPV) steels causes reductions in fracture toughness in these steels, termed neutron irradiation embrittlement. Currently there are no accepted methods for nondestructive determination of the extent of the irradiation embrittlement nor the actual fracture toughness of the reactor pressure vessel. This paper summarizes the findings from an effort addressing the use of ultrasonic attenuation as a suitable parameter for nondestructive determination of irradiation embrittlement in RPV steels. The materials examined in this study include one heat of RPV steel that was heat treated to induce changes in its fracture toughness, several heats of RPV steel irradiated to assess neutron embrittlement changes in fracture toughness, and a matrix of RPV steels (in the unirradiated condition) with a range of as-fabricated fracture toughness levels.

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