The typical operating temperatures of a nuclear reactor pressure vessel in a PWR are between 290°C and 300°C. However, many BWRs and some PWRs operate at slightly lower temperatures down to 260°C. Most of the literature and neutron irradiation damage is therefore focused on those irradiation temperatures. It is well-known that the lower the irradiation temperature, the more neutron irradiation damage occurs, because no appreciable annealing happens below approximately 230°C.
The NOMAD_3 irradiation consisted in total of 24 Charpy sized samples from an A508 Cl.2 forging and a 15Kh2NMFA material. They were irradiated to three various fluences between 1.55 and 7.90 × 1019 n/cm2 (E > 1MeV) at approximately 100°C. The hardening of the A508 Cl.2 was between 260 and 400 MPa which was much higher than the NOMAD_0 properties which were irradiated at approximately 280°C. The tensile tests of irradiated materials are all characterized by a significant loss of work hardening capacity leading to plastic flow localization promptly after the yield strength is reached. This affects also the shape of the Charpy impact transition curves. The radiation embrittlement derived from Charpy impact tests, ΔT41J, is up to 156°C for the highest fluence. For this irradiation, the embrittlement to hardening ratio was also around 0.43 +/−0.2°C/MPa as it was found in the previous campaign NOMAD_0.
This paper discusses the tensile, hardness and impact properties of the NOMAD_3 irradiation campaign. It is compared to the NOMAD_0 with respect to effect of irradiation temperature and annealing recovery.