To construct advanced non-light water reactors (ANLWRs) operating in the temperature range above that for the traditional light water reactors (LWRs), Alloy 316H is one of the candidate materials because of its inexpensiveness, significant service experience, and qualification for nuclear applications by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). However, during the life span at temperatures expected for the ANLWRs, the alloy is likely to experience thermal embrittlement that has not been a concern for the traditional LWRs. To prepare for the development, the possibility of adverse thermal embrittlement effects on Alloy 316H performance in the ANLWRs must be evaluated and a technical basis regarding thermal embrittlement, if necessary, must be established for structural integrity analysis to provide reasonable assurance of adequate nuclear safety protection.
In this paper, current technical basis for nuclear applications of Alloy 316H deterioration from thermal aging is briefly introduced. The likelihood of adverse thermal embrittlement effects on Alloy 316H performance is evaluated through historical data on microstructural and mechanical property evolution. Characterization of thermal embrittlement is then discussed, followed by a review of predictive models and trend curves for alloy embrittlement. Based on the review and evaluation, technical gaps for addressing thermal embrittlement issues are identified and gap-filling actions are recommended for establishing a technical basis to enable adequate consideration of thermal embrittlement in Alloy 316H applications to the ANLWRs.