For many years, ASME Section XI committees have discussed the assessment of nozzle penetrations in various flaw evaluations for reactor pressure vessels (RPVs). As summarized in Reference [1], linear elastic fracture mechanics (LEFM) solutions for nozzle penetrations have been in use since the 1970s. In 2013, one of these solutions was adopted into ASME Code, Section XI, Nonmandatory Appendix G (ASME App. G) [2] for use in developing RPV pressure-temperature (P-T) operating limits. That change to ASME App. G was based on compilation of past work [3] and additional evaluations of fracture driving force [4][5].

To establish the P-T limits on RPV operation, consideration should be given to both the RPV shell material with the highest reference temperature as well as regions of the RPV (e.g., nozzles, flange) that contain structural discontinuities. In October 2014, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) highlighted these requirements in Regulatory Issue Summary (RIS) 2014-11 [6].

Probabilistic fracture mechanics (PFM) analyses performed to support pressurized thermal shock (PTS) evaluations using the Fracture Analysis Vessels Oak Ridge (FAVOR) computer code [7] currently evaluate only the RPV beltline shell regions. These evaluations are based on the assumption that the PFM results are controlled by the higher embrittlement characteristic of the shell region rather than the stress concentration characteristic of the nozzle, which does not experience nearly the embrittlement of the shell due to its greater distance from the core. To evaluate this assumption, the NRC and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) performed PFM analyses to quantify the effect of these stress concentrations on the results of the RPV PFM analyses. This paper summarizes the methods and evaluates the results of these analyses.

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