During routine inspection of an N5 feedwater nozzle dissimilar metal weld (DMW) of a BWR, an axial flaw was detected in the weld. The flaw was mitigated by applying a full structural weld overlay (WOL) repair consisting of Alloy 52M weld metal and using the gas tungsten arc welding process (GTAW). Because of the ductile nature and very high toughness of the Alloy 52M material, the limit load approach of ASME Code, Section XI, Appendix C was used for the sizing of the overlay. The use of limit load for the design of weld overlays for Alloy 52M material is supported by several studies documented in the industry .
In order to address other fracture failure modes such as failure by ductile tearing and brittle fracture, a failure assessment diagram (FAD) approach was used to evaluate the acceptability of the weld overlay design. FADs have been used for evaluating flaws in piping components, but not for acceptance of flaws in WOLs. The FAD evaluation was performed in accordance with the ASME Code, Section XI, Appendix H requirements which address brittle fracture, elastic-plastic fracture mechanics (ductile tearing), and limit load failure modes. The applicable stress combinations were used in combination with the materials JR resistance curve to determine flaw acceptability at the end of the evaluation period.
The evaluation considered the presence of both a circumferential flaw (360° around the circumference and 100% through the original pipe wall; the design basis for the full structural weld overlay) and an axial flaw. For both circumferential and axial flaws, several assessment points corresponding to the JR resistance curve were determined and plotted on the FAD curve for austenitic steels in ASME Section XI, Appendix H. The FAD curve in Appendix H was derived based on strength properties of stainless steel and is considered conservative in application to Alloy 52M since Alloy 52M has higher strength. All the assessment points were found to be below the FAD curve thus indicating the acceptability of the weld overlay with consideration to all the three possible fracture regimes.