Current nondestructive examination (NDE) technology detection capabilities limit our ability to detect stress corrosion cracking (SCC) damage until it has progressed significantly. This work describes the continued development of an in-situ monitoring technique to detect and characterize mechanical damage caused by SCC, allowing the detection of the incipient stages of damage to components/piping. The application of this study is to prevent failures in the primary cooling loop piping in nuclear plants. The main benefit to the industry will be improved safety and component lifetime assessment with fewer inspections.
The technique utilizes high resolution fiber optic strain gages mounted on the pipe outside diameter (OD). This technique has successfully detected changes in the residual stress profile caused by a crack propagating from the pipe inside diameter (ID). The gages have a resolution of less than 1 με. It has been shown experimentally for different crack geometries that the gages can readily detect the changes of approximately 10 to 60 με caused on the OD of the pipe due to crack initiation on the ID.
This paper focuses on the latest in the development of the technology. Details of the previous work in this effort may be found in [1–3]. A short summary is provided in this paper. The main recent development was the full scale accelerated SCC cracking in boiling magnesium chloride (MgCl2) experiment. In conjunction with experimentation, both 2D and 3D finite element (FEA) models with thermal and mechanical analyses have been developed to simulate the changes in residual stresses in a welded pipe section as a SCC crack progresses.