The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Section III Rules for Construction of Nuclear Facility Components subsection NB-2331 Material for Vessels requires that the effects of irradiation shall be considered on material toughness properties in the core belt line region of the reactor vessel. The code also states that “the design specifications shall include additional requirements, as necessary, to ensure adequate fracture toughness for the service lifetime of the vessel.” In a design report of nuclear pressure vessel, the design and service loads do not include loads that are affected by fracture toughness of the material. However, in the cases of fitness-for-service assessment for component flaws (prevalent with age of component), irradiated material properties become highly relevant. An example of a fitness-for-service is that of a beyond design basis reactor vessel head drop accident in a pressurized water reactor with a nozzle junction flaw. As a case study, the critical size of a postulated external surface semielliptical circumferential crack in the combustion engineering three-loop pressurized water reactor nozzle–vessel junction is calculated using ansys Workbench (Academic version) with the applied impact load from the vessel head drop accident. Failure assessment diagrams for numerous crack depths and lengths were developed considering the fracture toughness properties of the irradiated reactor vessel steel. The mode I stress intensity results used in the failure assessment diagram were compared with the available finite element and the American Petroleum Institute (API) standard API 579 analytical solutions for validation, showing good agreement. From this case study, it is demonstrated that the effects of irradiation on fracture toughness become prominent at the same postulated crack size in the nozzle–vessel junction dispositioned as “safe” becomes “unsafe” in the fracture assessment diagram. Using the unified curve method, the irradiated fracture toughness data in design specification can be supplied so that it may be used in fitness-for-service analysis to account for component aging.

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