Flaws found during in-service inspection of Zr-2.5Nb pressure tubes in CANDU(1) reactors include fuel bundle scratches, debris fretting flaws, fuel bundle bearing pad fretting flaws and crevice corrosion flaws. These flaws are volumetric and blunt in nature. A key structural integrity concern with in-service blunt flaws is their susceptibility to delayed hydride cracking (DHC) initiation, particularly for debris fretting flaws under flaw-tip hydride ratcheting conditions. Hydride ratcheting conditions refer to situations when flaw-tip hydrides do not completely dissolve at normal operating temperature, and accumulation of flaw-tip hydrides occurs with each reactor heat-up/cool-down cycle. A significant number of in-service flaws are expected to be under hydride ratcheting conditions at late life of pressure tubes.
DHC initiation evaluation procedures based on process-zone methodology for flaws under hydride ratcheting conditions are provided in CSA (Canadian Standards Association) N285.8-15. The process-zone model in CSA N285.8-15 predicts whether DHC initiation occurs or not for given flaw geometry and operating conditions, regardless of the number of reactor heat-up and cool-down cycles. There has been recent new development. Specifically, a cycle-wise process-zone model has been developed as an extension to the process-zone model in CSA N285.8-15. The cycle-wise process-zone model is able to predict whether DHC initiation occurs or not during a specific reactor heat-up and cool-down cycle under applied load. The development of the cycle-wise process-zone model was driven by the need to include flaw-tip stress relaxation due to creep in evaluation of DHC initiation. The technical basis for the development of the cycle-wise process-zone model for prediction of DHC initiation under flaw-tip hydride ratcheting conditions is described in this paper.