An experimental investigation was conducted to characterize the benefits of warm prestress (WPS) in limiting crack extension in the wall of a nuclear vessel during a LOCA-ECCS. The present research emphasized material behavior under conditions of a small ΔT between the temperature of WPS and the failure temperature as might occur during a LOCA. The results have demonstrated that fracture will not occur during a simultaneous unloading and cooling of the crack-tip region following WPS even though the critical KIc of the virgin material is achieved. Based on a statistical analysis, it is concluded that WPS produces an “effective” elevation in KIc; furthermore, it is suggested that this elevation will limit crack extension in the vessel wall so as to retain the coolant.

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