Since 1982 the nuclear industry has employed weld overlay repairs to address intergranular stress corrosion cracking (IGSCC) in boiling water reactors (BWR) and primary water stress corrosion cracking (PWSCC) in pressurized water reactors (PWR). The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) has created several documents to provide rules and guidelines for weld overlay repair of nuclear components that have experienced stress corrosion cracking (SCC). These documents include ASME Code Case N-504-4 and ASME Section XI, Nonmandatory Appendix Q which specifically address weld overlay repair of stainless steel components.
Recently, stainless steel components that have experienced thermal fatigue cracking at the inner diameter surfaces have been repaired with structural weld overlays (SWOL) using the methodology of Code Cases N-504-4 and N-740-2. The SWOL is a good choice for repair of thermal fatigue cracks in piping because it provides structural reinforcement to the affected location and places the inside diameter (ID) surface into compression preventing, or significantly reducing, further flaw growth. However, the rules of Case N-504-4 and N-740 were not specifically written to address thermal fatigue cracking as the primary cause and may not adequately address design, analysis and examination requirements when thermal fatigue is the active mechanism because it is very different in nature than SCC. For example, SCC is driven by a combination of environment, steady state operating stresses, residual stresses from welding and fabrication processes, and operating temperature, whereas thermal fatigue is driven by thermal stress cycles resulting from fluid thermal cycling or stratification. The source of the thermal events that result in cracking may not be as well understood or predictable as SCC degradation. In addition, weld overlays applied to address SCC are constructed of SCC resistant material but are not resistant to thermal fatigue. Therefore, ASME Section XI recognized that alternative rules were needed for repair of piping damaged by thermal fatigue.
This paper provides a technical basis for weld overlay repair of components that have experienced thermal fatigue cracking. It addresses design, analysis and examination requirements considering the nature of thermal fatigue in nuclear piping systems. The Code Case was originally drafted based on the industry accepted rules of Case N-504-4 and Appendix Q but includes appropriate modifications needed to address thermal fatigue cracking. These modifications include removing restrictions such as the delta ferrite limit for PWRs that is only applicable to address SCC in BWR environments, and enhancements to the examination requirements to ensure that the repaired location is adequately monitored throughout the remaining service life of the plant. The purpose of this paper is to document the technical basis for Code Case N-894, which is currently still under development by ASME Section XI.