Eddy current monitoring of fatigue crack growth in Zr-2.5% Nb pressure tube

Krause, T. W.; Martin, A. E.; Sheppard, R. R.; Schankula, J. J.
May 2000
AIP Conference Proceedings;2000, Vol. 509 Issue 1, p457
Academic Journal
Zr-2.5% wt. Nb pressure tubes (PTs) form the core of the heat transport system in CANDU nuclear reactors. These 6 m long, 100 mm diameter tubes are operated at elevated temperatures (nominally 300 °C) and at pressures that produce hoop stresses that are 25% of the ultimate tensile strength of the PT (120 Mpa). Therefore, detection and characterization of flaws in these components becomes crucial for their continued pressure retaining integrity. If a flaw is detected, however, the cost of PT replacement is expensive. Periodic in-service inspection of a flaw that demonstrates no change in flaw characteristics can be used to allow a pressure tube to remain in-service. This requires confidence in the accuracy and reliability of methods used to inter flaw characteristics. Such confidence can only be developed by comparing nondestructive predictions with results from destructive examinations. In this work, eddy current testing was used to monitor the progressive stages of a fatigue crack, grown through pressure cycling from a notch on the inner surface of a PT. Results from a differential lift-off compensated eddy current probe were used to produce sizing estimates of the crack grown between 35% (base of notch) and 74% of the PT wall. A comparison with a destructive examination of the crack demonstrated sensitivity too changes in crack depth accurate to 5% of the tube wall thickness. Such results, combined with similar information obtained from ultrasonics will increase confidence in interpretation of PT inspection data. © 2000 American Institute of Physics.


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