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Root Cause Analysis of the Unexpected Behaviour of a Flaked Material Under Irradiation and Transferability to the Doel 3/Tihange 2 Reactor Pressure Vessels

[+] Author Affiliations
Evy De Bruycker, Séverine De Vroey, Xavier Hallet, Jacqueline Stubbe, Steve Nardone

ENGIE Lab (Laborelec), Linkebeek, Belgium

Paper No. PVP2016-63882, pp. V01AT01A064; 8 pages
  • ASME 2016 Pressure Vessels and Piping Conference
  • Volume 1A: Codes and Standards
  • Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, July 17–21, 2016
  • Conference Sponsors: Pressure Vessels and Piping Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5035-0
  • Copyright © 2016 by ASME


During the 2012 outage at Doel 3 (D3) and Tihange 2 (T2) Nuclear Power Plants (NPP), a large number of nearly-laminar indications were detected mainly in the lower and upper core shells. The D3/T2 shells are made from solid casts that were pierced and forged.

Restart authorization in 2013 was accompanied by a number of “mid-term” requirements, to be completed during the first operating cycle after the restart. One of these requirements was the mechanical testing of irradiated specimens containing hydrogen flakes. These tests showed unexpected results regarding the shift in the Reference Temperature for Nil Ductility Transition (RTNDT) of the flaked material VB395 (Steam Generator shell rejected because of flakes) after irradiation.

This paper presents the root cause analysis of this unexpected behaviour and its transferability (or not) to the D3/T2 Reactor Pressure Vessels (RPVs).

A mechanistic and a manufacturing based approach were used, aiming at identifying the microstructural mechanisms responsible for the atypical embrittlement of VB395 and evaluating the plausibility of these mechanisms in the D3/T2 RPVs.

This work was based on expert’s opinions, literature data and test results. Both flaked and unflaked samples have been investigated in irradiated and non-irradiated condition.

All hydrogen-related mechanisms were excluded as root cause of the unexpected behaviour of VB395. Two possible mechanisms at the basis of the atypical embrittlement of VB395 were identified, but are still open to discussion. These mechanisms could be linked to the specific manufacturing history of the rejected VB395 shell.

Since the larger than predicted shift in transition temperature after irradiation of VB395 is not linked with the hydrogen flaking and since none of the specific manufacturing history features that are possible root causes are reported for the D3/T2 RPVs, the D3/T2 shells should not show the unexpected behaviour observed in VB395.

Copyright © 2016 by ASME



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