CANDU Zr-2.5%Nb pressure tubes are susceptible to formation of hydrided regions at the locations of stress concentration, such as in-service flaws. When the applied stress acting on a flaw with an existing hydrided region exceeds the stress at which the hydrided region has been formed, hydrided region overload may occur. Probabilistic methodology is being developed to evaluate in-service flaws in the pressure tubes for crack initiation due to hydrided region overload. Statistical assessment of relevant experimental data on the overload resistance of Zr-2.5%Nb has been performed as part of this development. The results of this assessment indicate that the critical nominal stress for crack initiation due to hydrided region overload increases with increasing the nominal applied stress during hydrided region formation, decreasing the stress concentration factor and increasing the threshold stress intensity factor for initiation of delayed hydride cracking. These findings are consistent with our fundamental understanding of hydrided region overload, as well as with the previous modeling work by E. Smith, as referenced in the paper. The overload resistance also appears to increase with the number of thermal cycles in the course of hydride formation. The results of this assessment have been used to develop a preliminary probabilistic model to predict the critical stress for crack initiation due to hydrided region overload under ratcheting hydride formation conditions, as well as a comprehensive experimental program to further investigate the overload behavior of CANDU pressure tube material.

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