WWER-1000 base metal reference steel and its characterisation

Acosta, Beatriz; Debrarberis, Luigui; Pirfo, Soraia; Sevini, F.; Kryukov, A.; Chernobaeva, A.; Gillemot, F. and Brumovsky, M. (2005). WWER-1000 base metal reference steel and its characterisation. Nuclear Engineering and Design, 235(17-19) pp. 1951–1959.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nucengdes.2005.05.023


The surveillance programmes of western power reactors include, in many cases, standard reference materials in addition to actual pressure vessel steels. These are specimens cut from standard steel plates (Heavy Section Steel Technology, JRQ, etc.) that are similar in composition and heat treatment to the base material in the respective reactor pressure vessels, and are supposed to serve as a monitor by comparing the radiation embrittlement of the plant-specific material to the reference material, and to detect anomalies in the radiation environment of the surveillance capsules.

A correlation monitor material for the eastern WWER-1000 (similar as the JRQ for western reactors) is needed in order to determine the reliability of accelerated data for the validation of reactor pressure vessel surveillance data. Reference materials should be well characterised in terms of irradiation behaviour (transition temperature shift, non-destructive signal, etc.). The magnitude of the sensitivity to irradiation for this material should be measurable for the selected exposures. In this subject the IAEA is launching a new co-ordinated research programme. Material is already manufactured, and the JRC-IE has become its custodian. A detailed plan for characterisation of the reference steel is set up, including irradiation conditions, post-irradiation testing techniques and implementation plan. It is expected the participation of several research institutes worldwide in a round robin, which will allow a better comprehension of WWER-1000 steel's behaviour and will be considered as a benchmarking between different laboratories.

The JRC-Institute for Energy in collaboration with the Russian Research Centre – Kurchatov Institute is performing the “as received” material characterisation by both destructive methods and non-destructive techniques.

The non-destructive techniques used at the JRC-IE premises are novel methods specially developed for non-destructive assessment of the embrittlement state of materials, as the STEAM method and the measurement of magnetic properties. The STEAM technique (Seebeck and Thomson effects on aged material), is based on the measurement of the Seebeck coefficient. The magnetic properties evaluation is done through Barkhausen noise and permeability measurements.

This paper presents a preliminary analysis of the results obtained by all involving laboratories.

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