Structural integrity of the Reactor Pressure Vessel (RPV) is one of the main considerations regarding safety and lifetime of Nuclear Power Plants (NPP) since this component is considered as not reasonably replaceable. Brittle fracture risk associated with the embrittlement of RPV steel in irradiated areas is the main potential damage.

In France, deterministic integrity assessment for RPV is based on the crack initiation stage. The stability of an under-clad postulated flaw in the core area is currently evaluated under a Pressurized Thermal Shock (PTS) through a fracture mechanics simplified method.

One of the axes of EDF’s implemented strategy for NPP lifetime extension is the improvement of the deterministic approach with regards to the input data and methods so as to reduce conservatisms. In this context, 3D finite element elastic-plastic calculations with flaw modelling have been carried out recently in order to quantify the enhancement provided by a more realistic approach in the most severe events.

The aim of this paper is to present both simplified and 3D modelling flaw stability evaluation methods and the results obtained by running a small break LOCA event.

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