Investigation of Chloride-induced Stress Corrosion Cracking for Long-Term Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel in Dry Storage Systems
Shakhatreh, Abdulsalam Ismail
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Chloride-induced stress corrosion cracking (CISCC) has been identified as the main degradation mechanism for spent nuclear fuel dry storage canisters. This type of induced cracking is complex and depends on several factors, such as material composition, exposure temperature, relative humidity, applied tensile stress, and atmospheric salt concentration. An accelerated experiment was designed to simulate marine environments in a controlled fogging chamber to examine 304 and 304L stainless steel U-bend and welded U-bend samples. The samples were exposed to chloride rich and humid fogging in a corrosion chamber at 35℃ continuously for 4 weeks, 8 weeks, and 12 weeks. The same experiment was repeated at 50℃ for 4 weeks, 8 weeks, and 14 weeks to study the sensitivity of CISCC to temperature changes. A qualitative evaluation of optical micrographs from a 3D Surface Profiler was performed for 16 corroded samples and compared with 2 reference samples. Cracking was observed on 12 out of 16 samples exposed to 35℃ and 50℃ for durations ranging from 8 to 14 weeks. Likely cracking observations were noted on 4 out of 16 samples. A quantitative statistical analysis was also performed using surface profile depth (valley) data from corroded and reference samples. The quantitative analysis examined the effect of temperature, welding, exposure duration, and material composition. The quantitative results were compared with the qualitative results and literature published in CISCC.
General Audience Abstract
Most nuclear power plants are currently using dry storage canisters (DSCs) which are made of a concrete vault and a stainless steel canister that houses the spent nuclear fuel (SNF) assemblies. Multiple conditions must be present simultaneously for chloride-induced stress corrosion cracking (CISCC) to develop, such as the presence of a susceptible alloy, high relative humidity, high temperature, high atmospheric salt concentrations, and applied tensile stresses. DSCs are typically made from 300-series austenitic stainless steels which are susceptible to this type of corrosion during long-term storage near marine environments. Therefore, understanding of the factors leading to CISCC is critically important for proper management and mitigation and to estimate the service life of DSCs for the safe long-term storage of SNF. An accelerated experiment was designed to examine the effects of temperature, exposure duration, and welding on pitting and cracking for 304 and 304L U-bend samples. The experimental results concluded that stainless-steel grades 304 and 304L are susceptible to CISCC when exposed for 8 weeks or longer to fogging at temperatures between 35℃ and 50℃, 95% relative humidity, and 5% salt concentration. This study also concluded that increasing exposure duration from 8 to 12 weeks or the temperature from 35℃ to 50℃ had no significant effect on the acceleration of CISCC. Also, unwelded samples were deemed more susceptible to CISCC than welded samples and the susceptibility of 304 and 304L grades were relatively similar.
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