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The Method for Structural Reliability Estimation of the Heat Exchanger Tubes of Steam Generator of WWER NPPs

[+] Author Affiliations
Igor Orynyak, Maksym Zarazovskii, Mykhaylo Borodii

IPP-Centre Ltd., Kyiv, Ukraine

Paper No. PVP2016-63710, pp. V003T03A045; 10 pages
  • ASME 2016 Pressure Vessels and Piping Conference
  • Volume 3: Design and Analysis
  • Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, July 17–21, 2016
  • Conference Sponsors: Pressure Vessels and Piping Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5039-8
  • Copyright © 2016 by ASME


After the replacement due to the well known problem of weld seam #111 the steam generators (SG) of the Ukrainian WWER-1000 type nuclear power plants (NPP) have been in operation for almost 25 years. So now, the main practical problem related to the SG is the leakage/breaking of heat exchanger tubes (HET). If the leakage criterion is not satisfied the NPP Unit has to be stopped until the corresponding HET is plugged, which leads to unexpected huge financial losses.

Every year at least 12.5% of the SG HETs are controlled by eddy current inspection, after which some of the HETs are plugged according to the appropriate plugging criteria (in most cases – 65% loss of tube wall thickness). Thus, every SG has its own statistics of plugging.

From the practical point of view the Utility is interested in the following questions: whether the failure of the HET happens during the normal operation mode (NOM) up to the next NPP stop or not; what is the probability of this event; what is the defect growth rate? Answers on these questions could give us the opportunity to increase the effectiveness of the HET in-service inspection and to improve the plugging criterion.

A simple statistically-based method for HET integrity assessment is proposed. The method based on an exponent distribution law and HET plugging statistics of specific SG, taking into account defect growth. Based on the history of the tubes plugging (year of operation versus quantity of pluggings) the three statistical parameters inherent to this specific SG have to be found: initial number of defects, parameter of the exponential distribution (initial defect size) and the defect growth rate.

The developed method was used for the prediction of HET leak/break number for all Ukrainian WWER-1000 SG. It is shown that for those SG which has less than 2% HET pluggings the accumulated pluggings as of the end of the next year of NOM will not exceed this value.

Based on the Ukrainian history of WWER-1000 SG operation the database of HET plugging is presented.

This method is also used for justification of pressure reduction of periodic hydrostatic test (HT) for primary circuit of WWER-1000 and WWER-440 NPPs from 24.5 MPa to 20.3 MPa and from 19.1 MPa to 15.7 MPa, correspondingly. To justify a reduction of the HT pressure, a quantitative, risk-informed assessment of HT effectiveness has been performed with taking into account the HT pressures change. The HET failure probability is calculated as the proportion of defects which exceed critical sizes for NOM and HT. Limit load models are used for the determination of the critical defects size. The variation of reliability is calculated as the difference between fracture probability during NOM after HT at routine and reduced pressures. It is shown that HT pressure reduction does not practically increase the fracture probability during operation, and satisfies the criteria of risk change.

Copyright © 2016 by ASME



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