Dissimilar metal welds (DMW) are used in nuclear power plants between the nozzles of main components in low alloy steel and stainless steel pipes, or safe-ends connected to the main coolant line pipes. AREVA proposes for EPR™ an improved design of DMW involving narrow gap welding without buttering between the low alloy steel nozzles and the stainless steel safe-ends, and the use of a corrosion resistant weld filler metal (Alloy 52).
AREVA performed a thorough characterization of this type of welds, which shows a particular microstructure close to the fusion line between the low alloy steel and the nickel base alloy, where the heat affected zone of the low alloy steel is decarburized.
This paper presents results of fracture toughness tests performed with the crack tip located in this area, in the ductile to brittle transition in the as post-welded heat treated condition and after thermal ageing. The results show an excellent fracture toughness behavior of this particular area, compared to that of low alloy steel parent metal.