The thin shell design code RCC-MR is used for sodium-cooled fast breeder reactor components operating at high temperatures. Thin shells from such applications can be designed using linear elastic buckling analysis, following procedures given in RCC-MR. For human safety, such procedures can and should be examined by the broader scientific community. Among such procedures, RCC-MR provides three alternative methods to quantify an imperfection value; and that value is used in subsequent calculations to determine safe loads. Of these methods, the third seems potentially nonconservative for some situations. Here, we examine that third method using detailed numerical examples. These examples, found by trial and error, are the main contribution of this paper. The first example is a nonuniform cylindrical shell closed with a spherical endcap under external pressure. The second is a cylinder with an ellipsoidal head under internal pressure. The third is an L-shaped pipe with an end load. In all three cases, the new computed imperfection quantity is found to be surprisingly small compared to the actual value used for computations (e.g., 25 times smaller), and in two cases, the result is insensitive to the actual imperfection. We explain how the three examples “trick” the imperfection quantification method in three different ways. We suggest that this imperfection quantification method in RCC-MR should be re-examined. The primary value of our paper lies not in new mechanics, but in identifying unexpected ways in which a particular step in shell design using RCC-MR could be potentially nonconservative.

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