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Potential for Stress Corrosion Cracking of A537 Carbon Steel Nuclear Waste Tanks Containing Highly Caustic Solutions

[+] Author Affiliations
Poh-Sang Lam, Craig S. Stripling, Donald L. Fisher, James B. Elder, III

Savannah River National Lab (SRNL), Aiken, SC

Paper No. PVP2010-25117, pp. 541-551; 11 pages
  • ASME 2010 Pressure Vessels and Piping Division/K-PVP Conference
  • ASME 2010 Pressure Vessels and Piping Conference: Volume 6, Parts A and B
  • Bellevue, Washington, USA, July 18–22, 2010
  • Conference Sponsors: Pressure Vessels and Piping Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-49255 | eISBN: 978-0-7918-3878-5
  • Copyright © 2010 by ASME


The evaporator recycle streams of nuclear waste tanks may contain waste in a chemistry and temperature regime that exceeds the current corrosion control program, which imposes temperature limits to mitigate caustic stress corrosion cracking (CSCC). A review of the recent service history found that two of these A537 carbon steel tanks were operated in highly concentrated hydroxide solution at high temperature. Visual inspections, experimental testing, and a review of the tank service history have shown that CSCC has occurred in uncooled/un-stress relieved tanks of similar construction. Therefore, it appears that the efficacy of stress relief of welding residual stress is the primary corrosion-limiting mechanism. The objective of this experimental program is to test A537 carbon steel small scale welded U-bend specimens and large welded plates (30.48 × 30.38 × 2.54 cm) in a caustic solution with upper bound chemistry (12 M hydroxide and 1 M each of nitrate, nitrite, and aluminate) and temperature (125 °C). These conditions simulate worst-case situations in these nuclear waste tanks. Both as-welded and stress-relieved specimens have been tested. No evidence of stress corrosion cracking was found in the U-bend specimens after 21 days of testing. The large plate test was completed after 12 weeks of immersion in a similar solution at 125 °C except that the aluminate concentration was reduced to 0.3 M. Visual inspection of the plate revealed that stress corrosion cracking had not initiated from the machined crack tips in the weld or in the heat affected zone. NDE ultrasonic testing also confirmed subsurface cracking did not occur. Based on these results, it can be concluded that the environmental condition of these tests was unable to develop stress corrosion cracking within the test periods for the small welded U-bends and for the large plates, which were welded with an identical procedure as used in the construction of the actual nuclear waste tanks in the 1960s. The absence of evidence of stress corrosion cracking and general corrosion in the laboratory-scaled specimens indicate that this type of nuclear waste tank is not susceptible to highly caustic solutions up to 12 M hydroxide at 125 °C when sufficient nitrite inhibitor is present.

Copyright © 2010 by ASME



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