The management of neutron embrittlement of nuclear reactor pressure vessels involves monitoring of the changes in the fracture toughness of surveillance capsule specimens that closely approximate the actual reactor vessel material(s). The measurement of fracture toughness is currently performed in an indirect manner using Charpy V-notch impact specimens, although the direct measurement of fracture toughness is possible using the same small Charpy specimens fatigue precracked to produce acceptable fracture toughness three-point bend specimens. This paper first examines the current Charpy-based approach and the development of a recent embrittlement correlation that has been incorporated into ASTM E 900-02, “Guide for Predicting Radiation-Induced Transition Temperature Shift in Reactor Vessel Materials.” This correlation provides the latest mechanistically-guided approach to assess the changes in transition temperature shift. This same correlation and mechanistic guidance can be used with measured fracture toughness data developed following ASTM E 1921-02 to account for differences in surveillance material versus actual vessel material. Additionally, environmental parameters such as fluence and temperature also can be adjusted between different irradiation facilities using this latest correlation. This paper focuses on the application of the new ASTM E 900-02 correlation to Charpy-based and fracture toughness-based measurements to develop the best predictive approach for assuring structural integrity of reactor vessel materials. Key technical issues important for extended vessel life also are discussed.

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