This was carried out to establish crack opening displacement (COD) evaluation methods used in leak-before-break (LBB) assessment of sodium pipes of the Japan sodium cooled fast reactor (JSFR). For sodium pipes of JSFR, the continuous leak monitoring will be adopted as an alternative to a volumetric test of the weld joints under conditions that satisfy LBB. The sodium pipes are made of ASME Gr.91 (modified 9Cr-1Mo steel). Thickness of the pipes is small, because the internal pressure is very low. Modified 9Cr-1Mo steel has a relatively large yield stress and small work hardening coefficient comparing to the austenitic stainless steels which are currently used in the conventional plants. In order to assess the LBB behavior of the sodium pipes made of modified 9Cr-1Mo steel, the coolant leak rate from a through-wall crack must be estimated properly. Since the leak rate is strongly related to the COD, an appropriate COD assessment method must be established to perform LBB assessment. However, COD assessment method applicable for JSFR sodium pipes—thin wall and small work hardening material—has not been proposed yet. Thus, a COD assessment method applicable to thin walled large diameter pipe made of modified 9Cr-1Mo steel was proposed in this study. In this method, COD was calculated by classifying the components of COD; elastic, local plastic, and fully plastic. In addition, the verification of this method was performed by comparing with the results of a series of four-point bending tests at elevated temperature using thin wall modified 9Cr-1Mo steel pipe containing a circumferential through-wall crack. As a result, COD values calculated by the proposed method were in a good agreement with the experimental results for the uniform pipe without a weld. In the case that the crack was machined in the weld metal or heat affected zone (HAZ), the proposed method predicted relatively larger COD than the experimental results. The causes of such discrepancies were discussed by comparing with the results of finite element analyses. Based on these examinations, the rational leak rate evaluation method in LBB assessment was proposed.

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