A research project has recently been launched in the UK investigating residual stress (RS) in nuclear power plant [1]. At the outset there is a need to review techniques available for modifying/relieving residual stress levels in weldments, since it is well known that large tensile RS levels generated in welds can be detrimental in terms of fatigue, fracture resistance and environmentally assisted cracking (EAC). Therefore current RS mitigation methods have been reviewed. Mitigation methods can be categorised into three main groups as follows: a) Surface treatment to induce compressive skin stress; b) Stress relief through thickness; c) Weld design optimisation to produce low/favourable RS levels and minimize distortion. A brief description is provided of how each method works, together with the capability and potential benefit in terms of RS reduction, as well as references for further information. Metallurgical effects of treatment are also an important consideration. The practicality of application to nuclear plant is considered, both in manufacture and in-service, together with any limitations and risks. Several techniques are identified that are likely to be beneficial and warrant funding for further development. RS mitigation should be targeted at key/critical weld locations in the plant, where loadings and degradation mechanisms (such as corrosion, fatigue, EAC or fracture) are most significant. Treatment would be carried out in order to improve plant integrity and reliability (eg safety margins). There are potentially substantial cost savings since through-life inspection/maintenance work could be reduced and expensive repairs and shutdowns avoided. Note that it is important to understand whether the benefits in terms of RS improvement are likely to be long term. In certain systems large thermal transients are applied that might generate additional surface plastic strains, thereby modifying RS magnitudes and distributions.

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