Reactor designs employ the best materials available such as Alloy 600 and Alloy 690 to resist stress corrosion cracking (SCC); yet the problem has continued to exist. As SCC is driven by three main contributors, susceptible material, corrosive environment and existence of tensile stress, eliminating any one can greatly improve the situation. In this paper we discuss a laser peening process for the nuclear industry that can convert areas of tensile stress to deep levels of compression. Laser peening induces deep levels of plasticity into materials resulting in compressive residual stress to depths of 0.100 inches (2.5 mm) or deeper. This enables increased fatigue strength and lifetimes and greatly enhances resistance to stress corrosion cracking. The deep plasticity closes the inter-granular boundaries and induces a deep layer of compressive stress dramatically improving the stress corrosion cracking (SCC) resistance of components subjected to tensile loading in a corrosive environment. The deeper plasticity generated by laser peening can be contrasted to a depth of only 0.010 inches (0.25 mm) typically achieved with conventional shot peening, a beneficial and widely used technology. Advances in laser technology have enabled highly reliable, high-rate, cost-effective processing that has made a major impact in aerospace; thousands of parts and large scale structures have been and are being treated. Advanced laser beam delivery to components has enabled cost-effective field applications. The peening is done without physical contact with the component. The technology has been approved by organizations such as the FAA, EASA and USAF and deployed to enhance lifetime of key structural components on the F-22 fighter. Component faducials on a structure are first visually detected by a camera and alignment laser and then the main laser beam is automatically aligned to the component. The technology has the potential to serve a broad range of fielded industrial applications including oil and gas lines, on-board ship applications, nuclear power plants, upstream exploration and recovery, and downstream oil refining. We will discuss examples of advanced fatigue and corrosion resistance in steels provided by the laser peening technology as well as the hardware now available for field use. The laser peening technology enables SCC mitigation via engineered compressive residual stress to be considered much more seriously at the design level for reactors.

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