In the framework of a pressurized water reactor primary loop replacement, elbows of different types were produced in cast austenitic stainless steel grade Z3CN 20-09 M. For that type of component, acceptance tests to check the sufficient mechanical properties include room and hot temperature tensile tests, following the RCC-M CMS – 1040 and EN 10002 specifications. A large test campaign on standard 10mm diameter specimens was performed and exhibited a high scattering in yield stress and ultimate tensile strength values. As a consequence, some acceptance tensile tests failed to meet the required minimal values, especially the ultimate tensile strength. Optical and electronic microscopy revealed that the low values were due to the presence of very large grain compared to the specimen gage diameter. However, tensile tests strongly rely on the hypothesis that the specimen gage part can be considered as a representative volume element containing a number of grains large enough so that their variation in size and orientation gives a homogeneous response. To confirm the origin of the scattering, a huge experimental tensile test campaign with specimens of different diameters was conducted. In parallel, FE calculations were also performed. From all those results, it was concluded that it was necessary to improve the RCC-M code for that type of test for cast stainless steel: to do so, a modification sheet was sent and is being investigated by AFCEN.

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