The U.S. nuclear power industry is seeking U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (USNRC) approval to use high-density polyethylene (HDPE) in safety-related applications. The USNRC had granted approval for the use of HDPE for safety-related service water applications, with limitations, to Catawba (Duke Energy Corp., Catawba, SC) and Callaway (Union Electric Co., Callaway, MO) based on separate relief requests submitted by the licensees. The nuclear industry continues to show increasing interest in utilizing HDPE in safety-related piping systems. In order to evaluate and maintain the structural integrity of HDPE pipes, the material properties and the fracture resistance behavior must be fully characterized. Although there has been extensive work on material property development of HDPE, most of the investigations have been focused on the parent (base) material. Hence, the material property and fracture resistance behavior of the butt-fusion region have not been comprehensively investigated. In this paper, tensile, dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA), and slow crack growth (SCG) tests were performed for unimodal PE 4710 HDPE material. Specimens were machined from both parent piping material and butt-fusion regions. The test results indicate that the tensile and DMA properties show no significant differences between parent and butt-fusion joint materials. However, in terms of SCG resistance, the time to failure for butt-fusion joint material was an order of magnitude lower than that of the parent material.

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