Additional fatigue rules within the ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code have been developed over the past decade or so, such as those in Code Case N-792-1 [1], which provides an acceptable method to describe the effects of BWR and PWR environments on the fatigue life of components. The incorporation of environmental effects into fatigue calculations is performed via an environmental factor, Fen, and depends on factors such as the temperature, dissolved oxygen and strain rate. In the case of strain rate, lower strain rates (i.e., from slow transients) aggravate the Fen factor which counters the long-held notion that step (fast) transients cause the highest fatigue usage.

A wide range of other factors, such as surface finish, can have a deleterious impact on fatigue life, but their impact on fatigue life is typically considered by including transition sub-factors to construct the fatigue design curve from the mean behavior air curve rather than in an explicit way, such as the Fen factor. An extensive amount of testing and evaluation has been conducted and reported in References [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] and [8] that were used to both revise the transition factors and devise the Fen equations contained in Code Case N-792-1.

The testing supporting the definition of Fen was performed on small-scale laboratory specimens with a polished surface finish on the basis that the Fen factor is applicable to the design curve without any impact on the transition factors.

The work initiated by AREVA in 2005 [4] [5] [6] suggested, in testing of austenitic stainless steels, an interaction between the two aggravating effects of surface finish and PWR environment on fatigue damage.

These results have been supported by testing carried out independently in the UK by Rolls-Royce and AMEC Foster Wheeler (now Wood Group) [7], also on austenitic stainless steels. The key finding from these investigations is that the combined detrimental effects of a PWR environment and a rough surface finish are substantially less than the sum of the two individual effects. These results are all the more relevant as most nuclear power plant (NPP) components do not have a polished surface finish. Most NPP component surfaces are either industrially ground or installed as-manufactured.

The previous studies concluded that explicit consideration of the combined effects of environment and surface finish could potentially be applicable to a wide range of NPP components and would therefore be of interest to a wider community: EDF has therefore authored a draft Code Case introducing a factor, Fen-threshold, which explicitly quantifies the interaction between PWR environment and surface finish, as well as taking some credit for other conservatisms in the sub-factors that comprise the life transition sub-factor used to build the design fatigue curve .

The contents of the draft Code Case were presented last year [9]. Since then, other international organizations have also made progress on these topics and developed their own views. The work performed is applicable to Austenitic Stainless Steels only for the time being.

This paper aims therefore to present an update of the draft Code Case based on comments received to-date, and introduces some of the research and discussions which have been ongoing on this topic as part of an international EPRI collaborative group on environmental fatigue issues. It is intended to work towards an international consensus for a final version of the ASME Code Case for Fen-threshold.

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