In order to prevent brittle fracture, the pressure and temperature in a reactor pressure vessel (RPV) is controlled by pressure-temperature (P-T) limit curves during the heat-up and cool-down processes. Nuclear power plants should update the P-T limit curves periodically, because of RPV material irradiation embrittlement. Too restricted P-T limit curves may cause difficulty of operating a reactor. The 2007 edition of the RCCM code Annex ZG provides a new method for defining the P-T limit curves. In this paper, two types of the P-T limit curves for a French type RPV are established by different methods, which are the current operation limits based on the 1993 edition of the RCCM code and the new proposed limits according to the 2007 edition of the code. The margins of the current P-T limit curves are evaluated by comparing with the new proposed limit curves. Furthermore, the reasonability of improvements of the new P-T limit curve method is discussed, and their individual effects are investigated, including the conventional defect size, the required material toughness and the stress intensity factor plastic correction. The present results indicate that the current P-T limit curves for the RPV studied are conservative and have about 25∼70 °C margin in the transition temperature range and about 10∼12MPa in the upper shell temperature range, depending on different conditions. The new P-T limit curve method, which not only removes some conservative assumptions in the previous method but also restricts some requirements, is more reasonable and can provide a relaxed operation window. Present results can be a reference for the nuclear power plant owner to release the operation limits and is helpful in enhancing our understanding of the P-T limit curve.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.