Fracture toughness evaluations for irradiated reactor pressure vessel (RPV) steels are essential in the structural integrity assessment of RPVs. In Japanese pressurized water reactor (PWR) plants, fracture toughness tests are conducted for irradiated RPV steels through the surveillance tests and fracture toughness data are obtained. Lately, the Master Curve (MC) approach has become the main stream in fracture toughness evaluation. However, there can be the case that the number of fracture toughness data is not enough for the MC method in some Japanese PWR plants because of limited numbers of fracture toughness specimens contained in the surveillance capsules. On the other hand, for the Japanese PWR plants, a surveillance capsule generally contains a lot of Charpy impact specimens which miniature C(T) (Mini-C(T)) specimens with a size of 4×10×9.6mm can be taken from. Therefore, it is planned that additional fracture toughness tests are performed using Mini-C(T) specimens after the Charpy impact tests to obtain sufficient fracture toughness data for the MC method.

Applicability of the Mini-C(T) specimen to the MC evaluation has been studied in a series of international round robin test programs coordinated by Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry (CRIEPI). In these programs and the related studies, it was demonstrated that the reference temperature (To) can be determined by the Mini-C(T) specimens without any specific difficulties for the unirradiated RPV base metals. In addition, CRIEPI has recently reported on the basis of their studies that the fracture toughness tests could be successfully performed on the typical unirradiated RPV weld metal and the valid To can be determined with the data obtained from the weld metal as well as base metals. However, few papers reported applicability of the Mini-C(T) specimen to the MC evaluation for irradiated RPV steels.

In this study, fracture toughness tests using Mini-C(T) specimens were conducted on the irradiated Japanese Industrial Standards (JIS) SFVQ1A steel (equivalent to ASME A508 Cl.3 steel). The Mini-C(T) specimens were machined out from some broken halves of Charpy impact specimens used in a surveillance test of an actual Japanese PWR plant by a wire cut electric spark machine followed by fatigue precracking. After the fracture toughness tests, the evaluation was performed on the obtained fracture toughness data according to the MC method. The effect of specimen size on To was studied and applicability of the Mini-C(T) specimen was discussed by comparing the existing results of fracture toughness tests using the 1/2T-C(T) specimens conducted in the surveillance test. In addition, the issues to obtain valid To for irradiated materials were discussed.

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