Environmentally assisted fatigue of nuclear plant materials in the Pressurised Water Reactor (PWR) coolant environment is a phenomenon that has been extensively studied over the past 30 years. Methods for accounting for the PWR environment in an ASME Section III fatigue assessment are presented in NUREG/CR-6909. The deleterious effect of environment is described through a Fen factor dependent upon strain rate, temperature and the dissolved oxygen content of the water. The formulae which describe the Fen are based upon correlations observed in test data, predominantly from tests conducted with constant temperature and strain rate (triangular or sawtooth loading). Actual loading histories encountered during service are far more complex, with both strain rate and temperature, and therefore Fen, varying through the cycle. NUREG/CR-6909 Draft Rev 1 recommends the Modified Rate Approach (MRA) to account for this type of loading.

There is a substantial and growing body of data for conditions in which the strain rate and/or temperature change within the load cycle, for which MRA does not generally perform well in describing the deleterious effect of environment in these complex waveform conditions. In particular, MRA does not predict the observed difference in life when the temperature is varied in-phase or out-of-phase within the strain waveform, or when the slow portion of the strain rate is moved from the top to the bottom of the waveform.

An alternative approach called the Strain-Life Weighted (SNW) Fen method was presented in PVP2017-66030 and additional validation testing was proposed.

This paper develops the SNW method further into a general approach for all stainless steels and presents additional new validation data, including a range of isothermal and non-isothermal plant realistic waveforms and a more extensive review of open literature data.

It is concluded that the SNW method offers a significant improvement in fatigue life prediction capability for plant realistic complex waveforms compared to MRA and provides residuals similar to that of standard waveform data. It is thus considered to be suitably validated to propose a code case for use in ASME Section III fatigue assessments.

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