Flow-accelerated corrosion (FAC) is a degradation mechanism that attacks carbon steels under conditions often found in nuclear and fossil power plants. FAC has been responsible for a number of significant accidents in nuclear power plants. The most recent noteworthy accident was at the Mihama Unit 3 (Japan) where the catastrophic failure of a pipe in the condensate system resulted in five fatalities.
FAC can affect virtually all of the carbon steel piping and components in the power cycle of nuclear reactors. The presence of wall thinning caused by FAC is determined through the use of non destructive examination (NDE) techniques. For large-bore piping components the most commonly used approach is ultrasonic technique (UT) using an inspection grid applied to the piping components.
As FAC is a reasonably well-understood degradation mechanism, a number of computer programs have been developed to help utility engineers determine the inspection locations and managing the data. CHECWORKS™ — the most commonly used computer program for this purpose — is the program discussed in this paper.
The use of CHECWORKS™ in utilities’ FAC programs will be described. Particular emphasis will be placed on: inspection planning, handling power uprates and other changes to operating conditions.
Inspection planning is one of the most common uses of the CHECWORKS™ software. As there are typically around 5,000 FAC-susceptible components in a reactor system, utility engineers must select the components with the highest FAC-rates for inspection. CHECWORKS™ uses its predictions combined with plant inspection data to provide a best estimate of FAC rates. From these FAC rate predictions and knowledge of the piping schedule and allowable wall thicknesses, inspection locations are determined.
Both the water chemistry used and the local operating conditions strongly influence the rate of FAC. CHECWORKS™ is used to study potential changes to water chemistry, system operation or power level to determine the impact of such changes on FAC rates and hence inspection locations. Of particular interest is the use of CHECWORKS™ to determine the impacts of power uprates. Because of the complicated parametric behavior of FAC rates, changing the power level will likely increase the FAC rates in some areas of the plant while other areas will likely see a decrease in FAC rates. This fact requires a pre-uprate analysis to determine how an inspection program will need to be modified.
This paper provides a description of how CHECWORKS™ is used in the above applications as well as showing typical examples of its usefulness in these analyses.