Studies at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in Richland, Washington, are being conducted to evaluate nondestructive examinations (NDE) coupled with mechanical testing of butt fusion joints in high density polyethylene (HDPE) pipe for assessing lack of fusion. The work provides information to the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on the effectiveness of volumetric inspection techniques of HDPE butt fusion joints in Section III, Division 1, Class 3, buried piping systems in nuclear power plants. This paper describes results from preliminary assessments using ultrasonic and microwave nondestructive techniques and mechanical testing with the high speed tensile impact test and the bend test for determining joint integrity. A series of butt joints were fabricated in 3408, 12 inch (30.5 cm) IPS DR-11 HDPE material by varying the fusion parameters to create good joints and joints containing a range of lack of fusion conditions. Six of these butt joints were volumetrically examined with time of flight diffraction (TOFD), phased array (PA) ultrasound, and the Evisive microwave system. The outer diameter (OD) weld beads were removed for microwave evaluation and the pipes ultrasonically re-evaluated. In two of the six pipes both the outer and inner diameter (ID) weld beads were removed and the pipe joints re-evaluated. Several of the pipes were sectioned and the joints destructively evaluated with the following techniques: high speed tensile test, bend test, and focused immersion ultrasound on a joint section removed from the pipe coupled with slicing through the joint and examining the revealed surfaces. The fusion parameters, nondestructive, and destructive evaluation results will be correlated to validate the effectiveness of what each NDE technology detects and what each does not detect. This is an initial limited study which will aid in identifying key future work.

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