Environmentally assisted cracking (EAC) or, in other words, stress corrosion cracking (SCC) of in-core materials has become an increasingly important reason for the downtime and maintenance costs of nuclear power plants (NPPs). Use of small size specimens for stress corrosion testing of irradiated materials is necessary because handling of high dose rate materials is difficult and the availability of these materials is limited. A drawback of using small size specimens is that they do not in some cases fulfil the requirements of the relevant testing standards and sometimes their limited load-bearing capacity prevents corrosion fatigue tests and tests with static loading at reasonable KI values. The test results show that the ductile fracture resistance curves of a Cu–Zr–Cr alloy are, to some extent, independent of the specimen geometry and size. However, the curves of small specimens deviate from the curves of larger specimens at high J values (large plastic zone relative to the remaining ligament) or when the crack growth exceeds about 30% of the remaining ligament. The size dependency of the tested Cu–Zr–Cr alloy seems to be a consequence of decreasing stress triaxiality as the size of the specimen is decreased. The results of the SCC tests of sensitized SIS 2333 stainless steel (equal to AISI 304) specimens in simulated boiling water reactor (BWR) water show that the plastic deformation of the remaining ligament of the specimen has no significant effect on the environmentally assisted crack growth rate. This indicates that stress corrosion testing is not limited by the specimen size. The size dependency in SCC tests should be further studied by conducting tests using various specimen sizes.
Toivonen, A., Moilanen, P., Pyykkönen, M., Tähtinen, S., & Rintamaa, R. (1999). The feasibility of small size specimens for testing of environmentally assisted cracking of irradiated materials and of materials under irradiation in reactor core. Nuclear Engineering and Design, 193(3), 309-316. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0029-5493(99)00186-7