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Laboratory Investigation of PWSCC of CRDM Nozzle 3 and Its J-Groove Weld

on the Davis-Besse Reactor Vessel Head


Hongqing Xu

and Steve Fyfitch


AREVA
Framatome ANP, Inc., P.O. Box 10935, Lynchburg, VA 24506-0935
James W. Hyres
BWXT Services, Inc., 2016 Mt. Athos Road, Lynchburg, VA 24504-5447
Abstract In February 2002, significant boric acid corrosion of the Davis-Besse low alloy steel reactor
pressure vessel (RPV) closure head was uncovered around control rod drive mechanism (CRDM) nozzle No. 3.
Subsequent on-site non-destructive examinations (NDE) found that nozzle No. 3 had developed through-wall
cracks due to primary water stress corrosion cracking (PWSCC) next to the J-groove weld. The CRDM nozzle
3 and its J-weld were carefully examined in the laboratory by fluorescent penetrant testing and
stereomicroscopy that identified the remnant of the axial cracks in the Alloy 600 nozzle as well as the
circumferential and axial cracks in the Alloy 182 J-groove weld. These cracks were subsequently sectioned for
light optical metallography (LOM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) for characterization. This paper
summarizes the results and conclusions of the laboratory investigative efforts on the PWSCC of Alloy 600
CRDM nozzle No. 3 and its Alloy 182 J-groove weld.

E-mail: Hongqing.Xu@framatome-anp.com
I. INTRODUCTION
Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station in Oak Harbor,
Ohio, is a Babcock & Wilcox (B&W) designed 177-FA
(fuel assembly) pressurized water reactor (PWR), which
went into commercial operation in 1977. Davis-Besse
initiated its 13th refueling outage (13RFO) in February 2002
after an accumulated 15.78 effective full power years
(EFPYs) of operation. After removal of insulation from the
reactor pressure vessel (RPV) head, boric acid crystal
deposits and iron oxide were found to have flowed out from
several of the openings in the lower service structure
support skirt. A schematic diagram of the Davis-Besse RPV
head and the J-groove weld is shown in Fig. 1. Subsequent
non-destructive examinations (NDE) identified axial cracks
in five control rod drive mechanism (CRDM) nozzles
adjacent to the J-groove weld. In three CRDM nozzles (Nos.
1, 2, and 3) located near the center of the RPV head, the
through-wall axial cracks extended above the J-groove weld.
The CRDM nozzles are fabricated from Alloy 600 and
attached to the RPV head by an Alloy 182 J-groove weld.
Both of these materials are known to be susceptible to
primary water stress corrosion cracking (PWSCC). Similar
axial cracks in CRDM nozzles have also been observed in
other B&W 177-FA PWRs.
1
Initially, it was intended that the five CRDM nozzles
would be repaired by boring out the original J-groove weld
and the lower part of the nozzle containing the cracks, and
re-welding the remaining nozzle back to the RPV head.
After boring out the lower part of nozzle 3, a large corrosion
cavity was found on the down-hill side of the low alloy steel
RPV head. Subsequently, a 17.5-inch (444 mm) diameter
disc containing the remaining portion of the nozzle 3 J-
groove weld, part of the nozzle 11 J-groove weld, and the
entire cavity was sectioned from the RPV head by using
water jet cutting. This disc, along with the remnants of
nozzles 2 and 3, were shipped to the laboratory for further
examinations. This paper focuses on the nozzle 3 and the J-
groove weld examinations. The other two companion papers
in the proceedings
2,3
describe the examination results of the
RPV head low alloy steel boric acid corrosion and the
cracking identified in the exposed stainless steel cladding.
Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on
Environmental Degradation of Materials in Nuclear Power System Water Reactors
Edited by T.R. Allen, P.J. King, and L. Nelson TMS (The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society), 2005
833
Close-up of the J-groove weld
Nozzle 3 is near
the center of
RPV head
CRDM leadscrew
assembly
Alloy 600 nozzle
Low alloy steel,
SA-533, Gr. B,
Cl. 1, plate
Type 308
stainless
steel cladding
Alloy 182 buttering
and J-groove weld
180
o
0
o
Nozzle
removal
height
Fig. 1. Schematic of Davis-Besse RPV head and close-up of the J-groove weld.
II. ALLOY 600 CRDM NOZZLE MATERIAL AND
J-GROOVE WELD FABRICATION
The CRDM nozzles were fabricated from Alloy 600
seamless tubing per ASME SB-167
4
. CRDM nozzles 1 to 5
were fabricated from Heat M3935, which was supplied by
the B&W Tubular Products Division (B&W TPD).
Currently, there have been more leaking CRDM nozzles
from Heat M3935 than from any other single heat used in
the B&W 177-FA PWRs. The final mill anneal temperature
is estimated at 1600-1700F (871-927C). The chemical
composition and mechanical properties from the certified
material test report (CMTR) for Heat M3935 are listed in
Table I. The rough and final nozzle machining took place
after the final mill anneal. The final dimensions of the
CRDM nozzles are approximately 4.00 inches (102 mm)
outside diameter (O.D.) with 0.625 inch (15.9 mm) wall
thickness.
The CRDM penetrations were machined in the RPV
head, which had already been cladded with ~3/16 inch (4.76
mm) of Type 308 stainless steel (see Fig. 1). The J-groove
weld preparations were ground into the inside diameter
(I.D.) of the RPV head. After grinding, the J-groove weld
preparations were buttered with Alloy 182 (E-NiCrFe-3) to
the SA-533 Gr. B low alloy steel using the manual metal arc
welding process. After the buttering, the RPV head was
stress relieved at 1125 +/- 40F (800 +/- 22C) for 8 hours.
Each nozzle was custom ground for a diametrical
interference fit of 0.0010 to 0.0021 inch (0.025 to 0.053
mm) with the CRDM penetrations in the RPV head. Each
Alloy 600 nozzle was then attached to the buttering by a
partial penetration weld (J-groove weld) with Alloy 182
filler material. No post weld stress relief was performed
after the J-groove weld. During plant operation, the
temperature near the CRDM nozzle J-groove weld locations
is estimated to be 605F (318C).
Table I.
CRDM Nozzle 3, Heat M3935 CMTR Report
C Mn Fe S Si P Cu Ni Cr Co
0.028 0.27 6.25 0.0022 0.37 0.0040 0.01 77.89 15.58 0.010
Yield Strength Tensile Strength Elongation
48.5 ksi (334 MPa) 85.6 ksi (590 MPa) 60%
III. LABORATORY EXAMINATIONS OF
ALLOY 600 CRDM NOZZLE 3
III. A. PT Examination and Sectioning
On-site NDE examinations detected 4 axial cracks in
nozzle 3 near the J-groove weld as indicated in Fig. 2. No
NDE had been performed to identify any cracking in the
CRDM nozzle J-groove weld. Because nozzle 3 was bored
from below to a height slightly above the J-groove weld at
834
the up-hill side, most of the axial cracks in the nozzle were
known to be lost, except maybe a portion of the #3 axial
crack on the up-hill side (180). A 1-inch (25.4 mm) long
ring was sectioned off the lower end of the as-received
nozzle 3. The fluorescent dye penetrant test (PT) performed
in the laboratory revealed a cluster of partial through-wall
axial crack indications near the 180 location. These axial
cracks initiated from the nozzle I.D. surface with the deepest
crack extending up axially ~0.5 inch (12.7 mm) from the
end face and radially ~0.125 inch (3.2 mm) into the nozzle
wall from the I.D. surface, consistent with the on-site NDE
results. In addition, the on-site NDE results indicated that
the through-wall portion of the #3 crack extended ~0.5 inch
(12.3 mm) above the J-groove weld on the nozzle 3 O.D.,
corresponding approximately to the nozzle removal height.
However, there were no signs of boric acid corrosion on the
nozzle 3 penetration I.D surface at the up-hill side (180).
Hence, the boric acid leakage on the up-hill side of nozzle 3
could not be positively confirmed by the destructive
examinations in the laboratory.
After the PT examination, the cracked area on the ring
(near 180) was sectioned transversely as shown in Fig. 3.
After cutting away most of the crack-free portion near the
O.D in the specimen C1A, the main axial crack was
opened for scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and energy
dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS). The specimen C1B
was mounted for light optical metallography (LOM) and
microhardness measurements. The specimen C1C,
containing the main axial crack tip, is planned to be sent to a
second laboratory for additional work using analytical
transmission electron microscopy (ATEM)
5
.
III. B. Fractography, Metallography, and Hardness Test
The partial through-wall axial crack in the specimen
"C1A", was opened for SEM examination. Fig. 4 shows that
the in-service fracture surface is exclusively intergranular.
The ductile dimple tearing fracture surface at the top edge is
the ligament broken in the laboratory. The higher
magnification photos in Figure 4 show a typical "rock
candy" surface due to intergranular stress corrosion cracking
(IGSCC). In addition, secondary crack branching, often
associated with IGSCC, is also visible.
Fig. 5 is a micrograph near the nozzle 3 I.D. surface.
The intergranular cracking is extremely tight near the I.D.
surface where the IGSCC initiated. The machined I.D.
surface showed no discernable cold work. Fig. 6 shows a
representative micrograph of the nozzle 3 microstructure. It
shows the grain boundaries decorated with fine globular
semi-continuous carbides. Compared to similar mill
annealed Alloy 600 tubing and bar, the microstructure
shows far fewer intragranular carbides. This could be partly
due to the low carbon content of this heat (see Table I).
On the other hand, Figs. 5 and 6 show a number of
titanium or niobium carbonitrides [Ti(CN) or Nb(CN)],
which are identified by their angular shapes and distinct
yellow-to-orange color. These particles are often present in
nickel-based alloys such as Alloy 600. Even though Alloy
600 does not specify Ti and Nb, some trace amount is
always present. The average grain size of the nozzle 3
material was determined to be ASTM No. 3.0 using the
Abrams three-circle procedure per ASTM E 112-96
6
.
A microhardness traverse was performed across the
nozzle 3 wall thickness (Fig. 7). The Knoop 500 gram
microhardness varies from 179 to 221, which is equivalent
to HRB 85 to 94. The slight variation and general hardness
level is consistent with the mill annealed Alloy 600 tubing
materials.
26
27
28
29
30
0
o
90
o
180
o
270
o
360
o
I
n
c
h
e
s

f
r
o
m

C
R
D
M

F
l
a
n
g
e
J-Groove Weld
Contour
#1
#2
#3
#4
Fig. 2. On-site NDE of nozzle 3 showed 4 axial cracks. #1
and #3 were through-wall, #2 and #4 were partially through-
wall.
180
o
270
o
90
o
0
o
170
o
180
o
190
o
Met mount
surface
C1A
C1B
C1C
Fig. 3. Sectioning of the nozzle 3 ring. Left: viewing the
lower face of the as-removed nozzle 3. Right: the side view
(viewing the I.D. surface) of sectioning ~180. The axial
crack in the specimen C1A was opened for SEM. The
specimen C1B was mounted for metallography.
835
Secondary IGSCC
branching
Fig. 4. Top, SEM of the axial crack surface of the specimen
"C1A" (~180
o
, nozzle 3). Magnifications, top 13X, middle
68X, and bottom 46X. Middle and bottom are close-ups of
the two boxed areas. The in-service crack surface has a
"rock candy" appearance due to IGSCC. Secondary IGSCC
cracks are also visible. The dimpled fracture surface was
made in the laboratory.
Fig. 5. Mag. 75X, phosphoric-nital dual etch. IGSCC in
specimen C1B. The edge at right is the nozzle 3 I.D.
Fig. 6. Mag. 281X, etched with phosphoric acid. Typical
microstructure of nozzle 3. The grain boundaries were
decorated with fine semi-continuous carbides, but few
intragranular carbides. The large particles are Ti, Nb (CN).
150
170
190
210
230
250
0.00 0.10 0.20 0.30 0.40 0.50
Distance f rom CRDM Nozzle I.D. surf ace, inches
K
n
o
o
p

5
0
0

g
r
a
m
Fig. 7. Microhardness varies from 179 to 221, equivalent to
HRB 85 to 94, across the nozzle 3 wall thickness.
836
IV. LABORATORY EXAMINATIONS OF
ALLOY 182 J-GROOVE WELD
IV. A. PT Examination and Sectioning
The approximately 8-inch thick, 17.5-inch diameter
disc was sectioned into two halves. Fig. 8 shows the lower
half of the corrosion cavity and the initial cuts made to
harvest the crack specimens. Before sectioning, fluorescent
PT was performed on the entire underside of the cavity and
the I.D. surface of the J-groove weld bore. On the bottom
surface, or the reactor coolant system (RCS) side, the PT
revealed a cluster of short discontinuous circumferential
cracks on the J-groove weld surface between 0 and 45 (see
Fig. 9). These cracks are located at 0.75 inch (19 mm)
radially from the penetration bore I.D. The boundary
between the Alloy 182 J-groove weld and the stainless steel
cladding on the bottom surface is about 1.1 inches (28 mm)
radially from the bore I.D. The specimen sectioning
orientation for examining the circumferential cracks is
illustrated in Fig. 9.
The PT also identified one axial crack on the down-hill
side (~10) of the bore I.D. surface. This crack is about ~1.4
inches (36 mm) long, extending to the top surface of the
exposed J-groove weld and was facing directly toward the
nose of the corrosion cavity. This crack appears to be an
extension of the #1 through-wall crack identified by the on-
site NDE (see Fig. 2). Close examination of the J-groove
weld bore I.D. surface with a stereo microscope revealed
two additional axial cracks near the up-hill side (~180, see
Fig. 10). The three specimens containing the axial cracks at
~10 and 180 are illustrated in Fig. 10 and Fig. 11. The
examination results are described below.
270
o
180
o
0
o
90
o
Exposed Alloy 182 J-
groove weld
Exposed stainless
steel cladding
Low alloy steel
cavity side wall
Fig. 8. Top view of the sectioned corrosion cavity. The
corrosion was due to boric acid leakage from the through-J
groove weld-wall axial crack (at ~10) in Alloy 600 nozzle
3 above the J-groove weld and in the J-groove weld itself.
Circumferential indications
are in the J-groove weld
between 0
o
and 45
o
and
0.75 inch from the bore I.D.
Specimen A2A6A2B2
mounting plane
Fig. 9. The bottom surface (RCS side) of the cavity piece
shown in Fig. 8. The PT examination was performed before
the sectioning. The mounting surface orientation for the
specimen A2A6A2B2 is indicated.
Top of the
exposed J-
groove weld
270
o
180
o
0
o
Sectioning for
Specimen A2A2B3
Sectioning for
specimens
A2A6B2 & -B3
Fig. 10. Two tight axial cracks on the bore I.D. surface at
~180
o
(indicated by the two black arrows). The sectioning
locations of specimens "A2A2B2" and "A2A6B3" are
illustrated. The transverse mounting faces are indicated by
the solid lines.
Axial crack in
"A2A6B3" opened for
fractography
"A2A6B2", lower face mounted
Fig. 11. Sectioning detail for the specimens "A2A6B2"
"A2A6B3". Axial crack in the J-groove weld at ~10.
837
IV. B. Axial Cracks at Up-Hill Side (~180)
The mounted A2A2B3 specimen in Fig. 12 was
transversely sectioned from the J-groove weld at ~180 (also
see Fig. 10). Three axial cracks are visible in Fig. 12, with
the deepest crack (~180) about 0.236 inch (6.0 mm) below
the I.D. surface. None of the axial cracks at ~180 had
penetrated the J-groove weld thickness. A microhardness
traverse across the J-groove weld is also shown in Fig. 12.
The elevated hardness level near the I.D. surface was due to
a cold worked layer from the nozzle removal operation. In
the middle of the J-groove weld, the Knoop 500 gram
microhardness varies from 220 to 268, higher than the
CRDM nozzle 3 (see Fig. 7).
Fig. 13 is a composite macrograph of the center crack in
Fig. 12. The higher magnification micrographs showed
cracking was interdendritic, consistent with PWSCC in
Alloy 182 welds in PWRs. Such interdendritic cracking in
the weld is referred to as IDSCC, the equivalent of IGSCC
in Alloy 600. Compared to the tight IGSCC in the Alloy 600
nozzle (Fig. 5), the main IDSCC crack path is wider. The
corrosion in the dendrite boundaries was more severe than
the corrosion in the grain boundaries. This may be due to a
higher level of, or wider segregation of low melting
impurity elements along the dendrite boundaries in the weld
compared to the grain boundaries in the wrought materials.
Bore I.D.
180
o
Microhardness
traverse line
175
o
185
o
210
230
250
270
290
310
0.00 0.10 0.20 0.30 0.40 0.50
Distance from bore I.D. surface, inches
H
K

5
0
0

g
r
a
m
Fig. 12. Top, Mag 5X. Specimen A2A2B3. Three axial
cracks are visible at ~175, 180, and 185. The deepest
crack in the center is about 0.236 inch below the I.D. of the
bore. Bottom, Knoop microhardness across the J-groove
weld.
The bore I.D.
Fig. 13. Magnifications: 13X (top), 75X (middle), and 280X
(bottom). The axial crack at ~180 shown in Fig. 12.
IV. C. Axial Cracks at Down-Hill Side (~10)
Fig. 14 is a composite macrograph of the mounted
specimen A2A6B2 containing the axial crack at ~10. The
specimen was transversely sectioned from the J-groove weld
at ~10 (see Fig. 10 and Fig. 11). The higher magnification
micrographs are shown in Fig. 14. The interdendritic
cracking morphology is similar to the axial cracks at ~180,
except the main crack path is even wider (note the different
magnifications for Fig. 13 and Fig. 14). The wide crack
opening near the exposed J-groove weld surface facing the
cavity may be partly attributable to the flow of leaking
primary coolant. The J-groove weld microstructure at ~10
is similar to that at ~180.
The specimen "A2A6B3" was also sectioned from the
J-groove weld at ~10, but directly below the specimen
"A2A6B2" (see Figs. 10 and 11). Fig. 15 shows a composite
SEM macrograph of the opened crack surface in the
specimen A2A6B3. The higher magnification SEM
micrograph in Fig. 16 shows that the interdendritic in-
service cracking surface clearly delineated a columnar weld
838
solidification structure. The center part of the fracture
surface was coated with a thick corrosion layer. Comparing
Figures 14 and 15, the center fracture surface covered by the
thick corrosion layer corresponds to pockets of cavities
along the crack path near the exposed surface. The pockets
were probably formed when the dendrites were encircled by
cracks and removed by the leaking coolant.
Exposed J-groove weld surface
The bore I.D.
Fig. 14. Magnifications: 4.3X (top), 75X (middle), and
280X (bottom). Specimen A2A6B2: the axial cracks in
the J-groove weld at ~10. The cracks are much wider than
the axial crack seen in the J-groove weld at ~180 (see Fig.
13).
The bore I.D. Exposed J-groove weld surface
Interdendritic cracking
Covered by corrosion product
Ductile
tearing
Fig. 15. Mag. 4.3X. SEM of the opened crack near ~10 in
the specimen A2A6B3. The ductile tearing fracture
surface was made in the laboratory.
Fig. 16. Mag. 10X. Interdendritic cracking of the in-service
fracture surface shown in Fig. 15.
IV. D. Circumferential Cracks at Bottom Surface
Fig. 17 shows the mounted metallographic specimen
A2A6A2B2 containing the circumferential cracks on the
J-groove weld bottom surface. The mounting plane of the
specimen A2A6A2B2, illustrated in Fig. 9, is parallel to
the nozzle axis and perpendicular to the nozzle
circumference at ~45. Fig. 18 shows that these
circumferential cracks are interdendritic and propagated
along the columnar solidification structure, similar to the
axial cracks in the J-groove weld. Specimen A2A6A2D2
was sectioned from the J-groove weld at ~30 and mounted
in a similar orientation as the specimen A2A6A2B2. Both
specimens showed similar circumferential cracks. These
circumferential cracks were very shallow, penetrating
approximately 0.020 inch (0.51 mm) or less below the
surface. Additional examinations determined that these
circumferential cracks, initiated on the Alloy 182 J-groove
weld bottom surface, were not connected to the axial cracks
in the J-groove weld, which initiated on the Alloy 600
CRDM nozzle 3 I.D. surface.
839
A portion of the circumferential crack at ~20 was
sectioned off and bent slightly to open the cracks for SEM.
The SEM micrograph in Fig. 19 (top) shows numerous
shallow cracks on the bottom surface of the J-groove weld.
A close-up in Fig. 19 (bottom) clearly reveals the
interdendritic nature of the in-service circumferential crack
surface.
Corrosion cavity in RPV head
Interdendritic
cracks, see
Fig. 20.
Boric acid
attack, see
Fig. 21.
RCS side
see Fig. 18
Fig. 17. Mag. 6.7X. Specimen A2A6A2B2. The J-groove
weld at ~45. The circumferential cracks were initiated on
the bottom surface of the J-groove weld. The corrosion
cavity, at the upper left corner of this figure, was due to
removal of low alloy steel by boric acid corrosion. The
exposed stainless steel cladding and J-groove weld surface
was attacked by oxygenated and concentrated boric acid.
Fig. 18. Mag. 87X. Close-up of the shallow circumferential
cracks on the bottom surface of the J-groove weld shown in
Fig. 17.
Fig. 19. Magnifications, top 10X, bottom 135X. Top,
circumferential cracks at ~20. The specimen was bent
slightly to open the cracks. Bottom, high magnification of a
crack opening shows the interdendritic cracking surface.
IV. E. Surfaces Exposed to the Oxygenated
Boric Acid in the Corrosion Cavity
In addition to the circumferential cracking on the
bottom surface of the J-groove weld, interdendritic cracking
initiating from the exposed stainless steel cladding surface
was observed in the specimen A2A6A2B2 shown in Fig.
17. These cracks appear to be due to corrosive attack on the
exposed cladding surface from the oxygenated and
concentrated boric acid slurry inside the cavity. The tips of
two cracks extended into the Alloy 182 J-groove weld as
shown in Fig. 20. In the stainless steel cladding, the cracks
were perpendicular to the exposed cladding surface and
along the solidification direction. However, the cracks
preferentially followed the elongated delta ferrite pools,
which were preferentially attacked relative to the austenitic
matrix. After extending into the Alloy 182 J-groove weld,
840
the crack changed direction to propagate along the J-groove
weld columnar solidification structure. The exposed J-
groove weld surface was also attacked by the oxygenated
and concentrated boric acid in the corrosion cavity (see Fig.
21); however, unlike in the stainless steel cladding, none of
these attacks were very deep.
RPV head
corrosion cavity
Alloy 182
J-groove
weld
Type 308
stainless
steel
cladding
Fig. 20. Micrograph of the interdendritic cracks initiated
from the exposed cladding surface and extending into the J-
groove weld (the boxed area in Fig. 17). Mag. 28X.
RPV head
corrosion cavity
Alloy 182
J-groove
weld
Fig. 21. Mag. 75X. Specimen A2A6A2D2. Shallow
interdendritic cracks on the exposed J-groove weld surface
due to attack by the boric acid slurry in the cavity.
V. DISCUSSION
A cluster of shallow axial cracks was identified at the
up-hill side (~180) in the remnant of the Alloy 600 CRDM
nozzle 3 by PT performed in the laboratory. The deepest
partially through-wall crack is consistent with the on-site
NDE results on nozzle 3. The intergranular cracking is
consistent with Alloy 600 PWSCC in PWRs. The
phenomenon of shallow cracks initiating in a cluster (also
called craze cracking) on the CRDM nozzle I.D. surface
near the J-groove weld has been observed previously in
other B&W 177-FA plants
1
.
Metallography shows a machined nozzle 3 I.D. surface
without signs of discernable cold work. The Alloy 600
nozzle microstructure shows the grain boundaries decorated
with fine globular semi-continuous carbides. The
microstructure also contains very few intragranular carbides.
The hardness of HRB 85-94 across the nozzle cross section
is typical for a mill annealed Alloy 600 material. These
microstructural characteristics are considered favorable for
Alloy 600 PWSCC resistance. However, this heat also has a
very large grain size of ASTM No. 3, which is considered
undesirable for PWSCC resistance.
In the Alloy 182 J-groove weld, three axial cracks were
identified on the bore (or penetration) I.D. surface at the up-
hill side (~180). Optical metallography shows these
interdendritic cracks to be consistent with Alloy 182/82
IDSCC in PWRs. None of these axial cracks penetrated
through the J-groove weld. No signs of boric acid corrosion
to the low alloy steel RPV head penetration were observed
on the up-hill side, even though the on-site NDE results
indicated that a portion of the #3 crack in nozzle 3 was
through-wall above the J-groove weld.
On the down-hill side of the J-groove weld, the axial
crack at ~10
o
extended to the top surface of the exposed J-
groove weld and was facing directly toward the nose of the
corrosion cavity. This crack was likely an extension of the
#1 through-wall crack in nozzle 3 identified by the on-site
NDE. The interdendritic cracking morphology is similar to
the axial cracks at the up-hill side. Compared to the IGSCC
cracks in the CRDM nozzle, the main IDSCC crack path is
seen to be much wider. Welds microstructures have a higher
level of segregation of low melting impurity elements along
the dendrite boundary. The dendrites are also smaller than
the grains in the wrought Alloy 600. The small dendrites
encircled by IDSCC cracks along the main crack path are
much easier to remove with crack propagation. It can be
inferred that the primary coolant leak rate would be
anticipated to be higher through weld IDSCC cracks than
through IGSCC cracks in the nozzle. It is postulated that,
once the crack breached the J-groove weld, the leak rate
would have significantly increased.
The shallow circumferential cracks at the J-groove weld
bottom surface (exposed to the RCS water) between 0 and
45 are IDSCC, similar to the axial cracks in the J-groove
weld. Interestingly, these circumferential cracks in the J-
841
groove weld also initiated in a cluster. The Alloy 182 J-
groove weld had long been considered more resistant to
PWSCC than the Alloy 600 CRDM nozzles. However in
recent years, an increase in PWSCC incidents in Alloy 182
welds has been observed
7
. In one B&W 177-FA plant, some
axial cracks in the CRDM nozzles below the J-groove weld
seemed to have initiated in the J-groove weld
1
. However, for
nozzle 3, the circumferential cracks initiated on the bottom
surface of the J-groove weld were shallow and not
connected to the axial cracks in the J-groove weld. Hence,
the axial cracks in the CRDM nozzle 3 and J-groove weld
must have initiated on the Alloy 600 nozzle I.D. surface due
to PWSCC.
The exposed J-groove weld and stainless steel cladding
surface was attacked by the oxygenated and concentrated
boric acid slurry in the corrosion cavity. The tips of several
cracks initiated on the cladding surface extended into the
Alloy 182 J-groove weld.
VI. CONCLUSIONS
1. The axial cracks found in the CRDM nozzle 3 and in
the J-groove weld are consistent with the on-site NDE
results and are typical of PWSCC. The axial cracks
initiated at the CRDM nozzle I.D. surface and
propagated into the J-groove weld at the up-hill and
down-hill locations.
2. At the up-hill side (~180), the portion of the through-
wall crack above the J-groove weld identified by the
on-site NDE was lost during the nozzle removal
process. The axial cracks in the J-groove weld were
only partially through-wall. However, there was no
sign of any boric acid leakage near the up-hill side to
confirm any of the up-hill cracks were through-wall.
3. At the down-hill side (~10), the axial crack was
through-wall in both the nozzle above the J-groove
weld and the J-groove weld itself. This crack was the
primary source of the leaking boric acid, which caused
the large corrosion cavity seen on the low alloy steel
RPV head. The crack path was wider in the Alloy 182
J-groove weld than in the Alloy 600 nozzle. It is
postulated that the boric acid leak rate significantly
increased after the axial crack breached the J-groove
weld at the down-hill side.
4. A cluster of circumferential PWSCC cracks initiated on
the J-groove weld bottom surface exposed to the RCS
water. These circumferential cracks were very shallow
and were not connected to the axial cracks in the J-
groove weld.
5. Shallow interdendritic cracks were also found on the
exposed Alloy 182 J-groove weld surface due to
corrosion attack from the oxygenated and concentrated
boric acid slurry inside the cavity at elevated
temperatures.
REFERENCES
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