In the CANDU nuclear reactor, pressure tubes of cold-worked Zr-2.5Nb material are used in the reactor core to contain the fuel bundles and heavy water coolant. The pressure tubes are installed horizontally inside the reactors and only selected samples are periodically examined during In-Service Inspection (ISI) due to numerous numbers of tubes. Also, these tubes gradually pick up deuterium, as such are susceptible to a crack initiation and propagation process called delayed hydride cracking (DHC). If undetected, such a cracking mechanism could lead to unstable rupture of the pressure tube. Up to this time, integrity evaluations are performed using conventional deterministic approaches. So it is expected that the results obtained are too conservative to perform a rational evaluation of lifetime. In this respect, a probabilistic safety assessment method is more appropriate for the assessment of overall pressure tube safety. This paper describes probabilistic fracture mechanics analyses of the pressure tubes in consideration of the diameter and thickness variation. Initial hydrogen concentration, the depth and aspect ratio of an initial surface crack, the DHC velocity and fracture toughness are considered as probabilistic variables. In all the analyses, failure probabilities are calculated using the Monte Carlo (MC) simulation. It is clearly demonstrated from these analyses that failure probabilities are somewhat sensitive in size change of the pressure tube and the hydride precipitation temperature.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.