Control of carbon macro-segregation in the steel-making process for large steel forgings is of great importance in order to achieve the material properties and structural reliability required for the pressure vessels of nuclear power plant components. It is well known that high carbon content due to carbon macro-segregation can affect the mechanical properties of steels, leading to decreases in ductility and fracture toughness.

In this study, possible effects of carbon macro-segregation have been examined using a large-scale forged steel “bottom head dome” of a reactor pressure vessel (RPV) manufactured for a recent BWR. Material testing conducted included chemical analyses, tensile tests and Charpy impact tests. In the center part of the concave disk-shaped forged material, carbon content varied slightly in the material thickness direction within the range of carbon content requirement, as expected from the relationship between the solidification and the resultant segregation process in the cast ingot material and the forging process from the ingot to the dome material. The results of each mechanical test also showed full compliance with the properties required in the code regardless of the carbon content at each of the thickness locations examined. All the tests results demonstrated that with the steel-making technology and practice employed, carbon macro-segregation is well controlled to achieve the required material properties even in large-scale forged materials used in BWRs.

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