Radiation Annealing of the RPV Steel Radiation Embrittlement

Author(s): Krasikov E

As a main barrier against radioactivity outlet reactor pressure vessel (RPV) is a key component in terms of NPP safety. Therefore present-day demands in RPV reliability enhance have to be met by all possible actions for RPV in-service embrittlement mitigation. Annealing treatment is known to be the effective measure to restore the RPV metal properties deteriorated by neutron irradiation. There are two approaches to annealing. The first one is so-called «dry» high temperature (~475°C) annealing. It allows obtaining practically complete recovery, but requires the removal of the reactor core and internals. External heat source (furnace) is required to carry out RPV heat treatment. The alternative approach is to anneal RPV at a maximum coolant temperature which can be obtained using the reactor core or primary circuit pumps while operating within the RPV design limits. This low temperature «wet» annealing, although it cannot be expected to produce complete recovery, is more attractive from the practical point of view in cases when the removal of the internals is impossible.