As the design life of new nuclear power plant increases, the austenitic stainless cladding integrity of reactor vessel becomes one of the new concerns. Since 1970’s, there have been some specific recommendations on delta ferrite content of austenitic cladding of reactor vessels and welds. It has been known that the delta ferrite is beneficial for reducing micro-fissure in welds, though the high delta ferrite content increases the probability of embrittlment of welds. In this study, the mechanical and microstructural properties of austenitic weld metals with the limit values of the recommended range (5 ∼ 18 FN) of the delta ferrite control on low alloy steels were characterized by using bending test and scanning electron microscopy. The base metal was ASME Code Sec. II specification SA 508 Gr. 3 Cl. 1 plate and weld materials were EQ308L and EQ309L strips. Four kinds of cladding were deposited with submerged arc welding process on SA508 cl.3 plates. The bending tests were performed through ASME code Sec. IX and the microstructure of fractured surfaces was analyzed by scanning electron microscopy (SEM). In bending tests, there were no fractures except the highest delta ferrite content specimens (28FN). From the SEM observation of fractured surfaces, cracks initiated from the interface between austenite and ferrites phases in the cladding layer and propagated through the continuous interfaces between two phases. For specimens without continuous interfaces of two phases, though the cracks were observed in the interface of phases, the propagation of cracks was not observed. From the test results, continuous interfaces between austenite matrix and ferrite phase provide the path for crack propagation. And the delta ferrite content affects the integrity of cladding of reactor vessel.

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