A simple, viable engineering method for assessing the integrity of nuclear pressure vessels has been developed at Babcock & Wilcox. The method uses results given in a plastic fracture handbook developed by General Electric and which are in the format of the Central Electricity Generation Board of the United Kingdom R-6 failure assessment diagram. The method is currently limited to two-dimensional/axisymmetric structural models with continuous flaws. Failure assessment of nuclear pressure vessels with assumed continuous flaws result in the calculation of overly conservative safety margins. This paper presents the extension of the existing failure assessment approach to include semi-elliptical flaw models, as well as example problems which demonstrate increased safety margins over the continuous flaw assumptions. In particular, failure assessment diagram curves and the corresponding failure assessment point expressions for an axially cracked pressurized cylinder with an ASME Section III, Appendix G semi-elliptical flaw are presented. The results of the example problems considering the less conservative semi-elliptical flaw model versus the continuous flaw model dramatically illustrate increased safety margins of 50 percent when more realistic semi-elliptical flaws are postulated. The results given in this paper are particularly valuable in the safety assessment of PWR vessels which have low toughness welds in their beltline regions.

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