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Welding and Fabrication

Influence on Stress
Corrosion Cracking (SCC)
Robert D. (Dana) Couch
Senior Project Manager
Welding and Repair Technology Center
Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI)
1300 West WT Harris Blvd
Charlotte, NC 28262
T: 704-595-2504
E: rcouch@epri.com

Steve McCracken
Senior Project Manager
Welding and Repair Technology Center
Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI)
1300 West WT Harris Blvd
Charlotte, NC 28262

Dana graduated from Auburn University with

a BS in Materials Engineering in 1982. He
worked with the Tennessee Valley Authority
for 25 years where he was involved with
nuclear plant construction, maintenance and
modifications, and engineering design. He
was the corporate welding engineer for TVAs
nuclear division and was also responsible for
the boric acid corrosion program and Alloy 600
In 2008, Dana joined the Electric Power
Research Institute (EPRI) as a senior
project manager for the Welding and Repair
Technology Center. He now manages projects
within the nuclear sector affecting R&D of
materials and welding related issues. He
is a Licensed Professional Engineer in the
state of Tennessee and currently serves on
the Materials Engineering Alumni Advisory
Council for Auburn University. Dana is a
member of the B31.1, Subgroup F&E and has
involvement with several other ASME Code

It is well recognized and understood that
welding and fabrication techniques can
have an adverse affect as it relates to a
materials ability to withstand certain corrosion
mechanisms such as Stress Corrosion
Cracking (SCC). While construction Codes
such as ASME provide minimum requirements
for design and fabrication, environmentally
assisted degradation modes are not
addressed. EPRI has developed a tool recently
that provides members with guidance when


31596_CSC11_Proceedings_INT_120224.indd 337

developing, reviewing, and implementing

fabrication and installation of new nuclear
power plant components from a materials
degradation perspective.
Process enhancements have been
identified that may improve the long term
performance and reduce asset management
cost. Enhancements for asset management
optimization have been identified through use
of low stress welding, application of process
controls for fabrication, and various mitigation
technologies for elimination of surface stress
often times responsible for SCC.
Expert opinion and operating experience
were utilized to develop critical factors
as it relates to enhancements that can be
applied to welding and fabrication techniques
to substantially reduce the possibility of long
term environmental degradation from SCC.
These critical factors will be discussed along
with practical applications as it relates to new
nuclear plant component installation.

Stress Corrosion Cracking (SCC)
Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI)
residual stress
critical factors
surface stress


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Stress Corrosion Cracking (SCC) is a
failure process that occurs because of the
simultaneous presence of tensile stress, an
environment, and a susceptible material. (See
Figure 1) Although manifest mostly in metals,
it can also occur in other engineering solids,
such as ceramics and polymers. Removal of or
changes in any one of these three factors will
often eliminate or reduce susceptibility to SCC
and therefore are obvious ways of controlling
SCC in practice, as is discussed later.
Stress Corrosion Cracking is a subcritical
crack growth phenomenon involving crack
initiation at selected sites, crack propagation,
and overload final fracture of the remaining
section. Failure by SCC is frequently
encountered in seemingly mild chemical
environments at tensile stresses well below the
yield strength of the metal. The failures often
take the form of fine cracks that penetrate
deeply into the metal, with little or no evidence
of corrosion on the nearby surface or distortion
of the surrounding structure. Therefore during
casual inspection no macroscopic evidence of
impending failure is seen.
Stress Corrosion Cracking continues to be a
cause of significant service failures. It is very
likely that for every alloy there is an environment
that will cause SCC, but, fortunately, most of
the ones of industrial significance are known
and avoidable. Changes in one or more of the
three necessary factors material, stress, and
environment can prevent or mitigate SCC,
either in design or after a problem has occurred
in the field. Material selection and specification
is the first line of defense. Lowering of the
applied stresses and elimination of residual
stresses can go a long way toward eliminating
problems too. Sometimes minor changes or
additions to the environment can help. Finally,
proper design and operation to avoid such things
as splash zones and wet/dry concentration also
are important. Stress-corrosion cracking is a
dangerous and severe degradation mechanism,
but with proper understanding and care,
failures can be avoided [1] .
Stress Corrosion Cracking, as it related to
metals utilized in the nuclear power industry,
has been an ongoing problem in both the
Boiling Water Reactor (BWR) and Pressurized
Water Reactor (PWR) fleet. Again, SCC is the


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Welding and Fabrication Influence on Stress Corrosion Cracking (SCC)

service failure in engineering materials that

occur by slow, environmentally induced crack
propagation. The observed crack propagation
is the result of the combined and synergistic
interaction of mechanical stress and corrosion
interactions [2] .
Some of the factors contributing to the three
identified interactions are summarized below:
Susceptible Material
Microstructure (sensitization)
Surface Condition (Cold Work)
Heat Treatment, e.g. solution anneal
Service stress
Fit-up stress
Weld residual stress
SCC first became recognized as a serious
service problem for nuclear power plants in
the mid 1970s when SCC was observed in
BWR primary piping fabricated from Type 304
stainless steel. It was first observed in small
diameter bypass piping but later extended to
large diameter recirculation and riser piping.
During the mid 1980s, Intergranular Stress
Corrosion Cracking (IGSCC) was detected at
large numbers of welds at many BWRs, and
many remedial actions were taken. In addition
to large scale inspections, the main remedies
used included:
Material remedies, especially replacement
of affected piping using IGSCC resistant
nuclear grades of stainless steel or solution
annealed piping with corrosion resistant ID
surface cladding at field welds.
Stress remedies, such as Mechanical Stress
Improvement Process (MSIP), to reduce the
stresses causing the IGSCC.
An ECP remedy, involving use of Hydrogen
Water Chemistry (HWC), to reduce the
electrochemical driving force for the
IGSCC [3] .
This would later be attributed to oxygenated
water in combination with sensitized material
condition associated with as-welded Type 304
pipe butt welds, and high weld residual stress

Figure 1. Stress Corrosion Cracking Interaction

at the Heat Affected Zone (HAZ).

In PWR service, Primary Water Stress
Corrosion Cracking (PWSCC) in Alloy 600
components and 82/182 weld metals became
an issue in mid 1980s. Alloy 600 in PWR
penetration and nozzle applications has
exhibited an increasing amount of PWSCC as
PWRs have aged. This type of cracking was
first experienced in pressurizer nozzles, with
the early cracking being attributed to the high
temperatures in pressurizers about 343C
(650F). The problem later occurred in other
lower temperature penetrations and nozzles
such as Control Rod Drive Mechanism (CRDM)
and Control Element Drive Mechanism (CEDM)
penetrations, reactor coolant loop instrument
nozzles, and at reactor vessel bottom head and
steam generator drain nozzles operating at or
close to cold leg temperatures.
Starting about 2000, a number of cases of
PWSCC have been observed in Alloy 600 type
weld metals in PWRs, e.g., in reactor vessel
outlet nozzles, at CRDM nozzle to reactor
vessel head welds, reactor vessel bottom
mounted instrument nozzles, and steam
generator cladding and divider plate welds.
Stainless steel has also been widely used
in PWR reactor coolant systems and safety
and auxiliary systems. Stainless steels have
provided relatively trouble free service in these
PWR applications. The absence of systematic
IGSCC problems of the type that have affected
BWRs is attributed to the low oxygen content
of PWR reactor coolant, which keeps the ECP
well below the range in which IGSCC occurs in
pure water environments. The relatively limited
numbers of problems that have occurred in
stainless steel parts in PWRs have generally


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Welding and Fabrication Influence on Stress Corrosion Cracking (SCC)

been due to either mechanical or thermal

fatigue or, in a few cases, to the development
in stagnant areas of aggressive environments
with chlorides, concentrated boric acid and
trapped oxygen.
While the general performance of stainless
steel parts exposed to PWR reactor coolant
has been excellent, a number of cases of SCC
have occurred in stainless steel parts exposed
to PWR reactor coolant that indicate that
under some conditions SCC can initiate in this
material-environment combination [3] .
SCC is one of the most serious metallurgical
problems facing the nuclear industry today.
Studies have revealed that all grades and
conditions of austenitic stainless steels and
Ni based alloys are in fact susceptible to SCC
given the right environment and conditions,
namely either applied or residual tensile stress.
Material degradation problems due to SCC
have cost the United States nuclear industry
over 10 billion dollars in the last thirty years.
SCC is a direct cause of increased inspection
requirements and extensive component
repairs and/or replacements. A cost effective
means of mitigating SCC would greatly reduce
operational and maintenance costs.
A combination of a susceptible material,
corrosive environment and tensile stress over
a threshold limit will result in SCC. Machining,
welding and other fabrication processes can
produce high tensile residual stresses and
cold working in the surface and near surface
material of critical nuclear reactor components.
Furthermore, SCC can occur at stresses well
within the range of typical design stress thus
presenting an obvious concern [4] .

A Growing Demand
Pressures to meet the growing demand for
reliable, around-the-clock electricity and to
reduce greenhouse gas emissions have revived
interest in nuclear power in the United States.
Several United States utilities are actively
planning to build advanced nuclear power
plants, and these plants could come on line by
decade end.
A key reason for the renewed interest in
construction of new nuclear plants is the existing
nuclear fleets strong record of safe and reliable
operation. In 2008, for example, United States
nuclear power plants achieved an average 91%

capacity factor, which indicates that plants were

on line and generating electricity more than nine
out of every ten hours.
The welding community has contributed to
this commendable fleet performance through
technically sound welding practices supported
by stringent engineering codes and standards,
and will continue to contribute to the success
of the next generation of nuclear plants. High
quality, reliable welds are critical to safe
nuclear plant operation. Because of the safety
significance of welds in many critical systems,
structures, and components, the nuclear
power industry must be confident in the quality
and integrity of welded joints.
The next generation of nuclear power
plants will likely have a design life of 60 years
or more. Improved welding and fabrication
practices will be essential in achieving this
increased life expectancy and minimizing the
potential for unexpected and costly repairs and
maintenance [5] .
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission
(NRC) published in 2007, NUREG/CR-6923,
Expert Panel Report on Proactive Materials
Degradation Assessment. This report may be
useful to the nuclear industry in implementing
proactive materials degradation management
(PMDM) programs. PMDM can be achieved
both by implementing actions to mitigate
or eliminate materials susceptibility to
degradation, and by implementing effective
and timely inspection, monitoring, and repair
of susceptible materials.
With regard to Stress Corrosion Cracking,
the panel noted that there has been very
good field experience. The major source for
concern is the degree of cold work from for
example surface grinding. The residual stress
adjacent to welds has long been highlighted as
a prime mechanical driving force for cracking
in welded components. More recent research
indicates that it is the residual stress and
strain profiles that are of importance. This
important nuance is not fully embraced in
current failure analyses. In the same vein,
predictions of future cracking rely extensively
on finite element analysis calculations of the
residual stress profiles, especially for complex
weld geometries involving dissimilar metals.
However, there is relatively little validation
(against measurements on mock-ups) of
such calculated profiles and their expected
distributions as a function of e.g. irradiation


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assisted relaxation, welding conditions (such as
weld heat input, degree of constraint, welding
speed, part misalignment), or stress relief heat
treatment. Small changes in the residual stress
pattern can have a marked effect on the locus
of the crack depth/ time relationship.
Weld repair is also known to be of significance
(witness the implication of the role of weld
repairs on the incidence of IGSCC of nickel alloy
weldments in PWR primary piping systems).
Quantification of these factors will have a
marked effect on the accuracy of the prediction
of cracking under specific conjoint conditions
of material and environment. Finally, in this
category of residual stress analytical needs,
there is the question of predicting the adverse
effect of surface cold work in accelerating crack
behavior in the region up to 100 m below the
surface; such an effect has been known for
decades spanning the effect of surface grinding
on the IGSCC of BWR piping in the 1970s to
more recent examples in BWR core components.
Preliminary analysis indicates that such effects
may be predicted quantitatively merely by taking
into account the change in the residual stress
profile; in a proactive mitigation program, such
analyses should be reexamined to account for
other known changes, such as microstructural
changes (e.g., martensite formation) and
increases in yield stress due to bulk cold work,
which are known to independently alter the
cracking susceptibility [6] .
To ensure the reliability and longevity of
future nuclear plants, the Electric Power
Research Institute (EPRI) has worked with
utilities and equipment manufacturers to
develop welding and fabrication best practice
guidelines for new nuclear plant construction.
Such guidelines will equip the welding
community and utility engineers with practical
tools for identifying and implementing the most
efficient, timely, and cost-effective methods to
reduce the risk of degradation mechanisms
such as Stress Corrosion Cracking.
As an independent, nonprofit research
and development organization, EPRI does not
attempt to advocate or dictate any particular
process for reducing the risks inherent in
welding and fabrication practices. Rather, the
Welding and Fabrication Best Practices project
aims to provide multiple ways of achieving risk
reduction goals, so users can choose among
several options and select the most practical
or cost-effective approach in a given situation


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The project involved the following key steps:
Evaluate welding and fabrication practices in
operating plants to identify lessons learned
Identify the relative susceptibility of critical
welds in new nuclear plant designs to
known degradation mechanisms
Develop a systematic process that identifies
the key factors influencing the susceptibility of
high-risk welds to degradation mechanisms
Provide recommendations for reducing
the propensity of welds to degradation
The 104 nuclear generating units now operating
in the United States offer a wealth of information
about welding and fabrication practices,
materials failure, and component degradation.
The lessons learned from the existing nuclear
fleet can help the industry identify practices
that contribute to failures, and apply improved
practices to increase the reliability and extend
the life of new nuclear plants.
In 2008, as a first step in the best practices
project, EPRI assembled a team of welding
and fabrication experts to survey welding and
fabrication practices in nuclear plants and in
other industries. The survey team reviewed
and documented practices that contributed,
or could contribute, to the premature failure of
critical components.
The researchers confirmed that most
material failures in operating plants occur in
or near welds. Root cause evaluations showed
that many of these failures resulted from less
than optimum welding, fabrication, or surfaceconditioning practices.
For example, residual stresses induced by
welding and uncontrolled grinding on reactor
coolant piping are known contributors to
Stress Corrosion Cracking. Weld repairs
in particular can induce high weld residual
stresses that increase susceptibility to
cracking mechanisms. However, optimized
welding and fabrication processes along with
properly controlled repair practices can reduce
susceptibility to known cracking mechanisms.
Operating experience from the current fleet
of nuclear power plants can be analyzed to
identify and manage materials performance
issues for advanced light water reactor designs
currently being considered for new nuclear
power plants. In many cases, evaluation of
operating plant issues and implementation of
mitigation or management technologies can


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Welding and Fabrication Influence on Stress Corrosion Cracking (SCC)

significantly reduce operating costs over the

life of these new plants. Potential benefits
include prevention of degraded conditions,
more efficient and accurate inspections, and
reductions in repair and replacement costs.
The EPRI Advanced Nuclear Technology
(ANT) Program has initiated a materials
management matrix (MMM) initiative to meet
this need. Among the key gaps identified
through the MMM initiative is that currently
there are no industry guidelines for new
nuclear power plants that identify fabrication
and construction practices that influence
(positively or negatively) susceptibility to
known degradation mechanisms.
Building on the information matrix, the project
team has met with the Original Equipment
Manufacturer (OEM) for each new reactor
design to review and document welding and
fabrication practices. The team then identified
critical welds and assigned a relative risk
ranking to a known degradation mechanism.
The risk ranking considers the influence of
welding, machining, repair, and mitigation
processes identified by the OEM and considers
weld material, system service conditions, and
operating experience. This information has been
compiled in a Welding and Fabrication Addenda
to the MMM for each new reactor design. The
team also determined the welding, machining,
repair, and mitigation factors that influence
degradation mechanisms for specific materials.
This information will has been evaluated and
documented in a Welding and Fabrication Critical
Factors document. Utility engineers can use this
report to identify specific processes or process
parameters that can be implemented to reduce
the identified susceptibility and risk. Together,
these documents will enable users to identify
welds with a high relative risk for degradation,
and then systematically determine methods and
ways to minimize and reduce susceptibility with
specific welding and fabrication practices.
For example, the Welding and Fabrication
Addenda to the matrix for a new pressurized
water reactor design may rank the dissimilar
metal nozzle-to-safe-end welds in the
reactor coolant system high for relative risk
to Primary Water Stress Corrosion Cracking.
A high relative risk ranking may be based on
the critical nature of the system, materials,
specific reactor design, service conditions, and
on the influence of the welding, fabrication,
and surface conditioning specified by the OEM.

The materials, design, and service conditions

of the new reactors most likely cannot be
changed. However, the welding, fabrication, or
surface-conditioning processes can possibly
be modified slightly or significantly to reduce
the relative risk ranking of the dissimilar metal
welds, which would increase the reactor coolant
system life and reliability. For example, a number
of processes have recently been developed to
mitigate the tensile residual stresses that are
produced by welding. These residual stress
mitigation processes were not available during
the construction of the original United States
nuclear power plant fleet, but hold significant
potential for application in the new fleet. For
those cases where it is not cost effective or
feasible to modify the welding process to reduce
the residual tensile stresses, residual stress
mitigation processes can be used to lower the
propensity to degradation mechanisms [5] .
The ASME Code requirements provide
a set of minimum design and fabrication
standards for welding and fabrication of new
nuclear power plant components. However,
ASME Code design and fabrication standards
do not consider environmentally assisted
degradation modes, most notably Stress
Corrosion Cracking, including the various
kinds of cracking manifested in light-water
reactors, such as Primary Water Stress
Corrosion Cracking (PWSCC) and IrradiatedAssisted Stress Corrosion Cracking (IASCC).
Further, operating experience indicates that the
majority of environmental degradation events
occur in, or near, welds. In many instances,
the degradation was determined to be heavily
or marginally influenced by the welding and
fabrication processes that employed during
component fabrication or installation. As a
result, it is generally understood that pre and
post fabrication methods, welding process
selection, and mitigation techniques can have
significant beneficial or detrimental influence on
long-term material performance [7] .
The EPRI issued Welding and Fabrication
Critical Factors for New Nuclear Power
Plants, 1019209. This document provides
a tool to assist ANT members in developing,
reviewing, and implementing requirements for
fabrication and installation of new nuclear plant
components from a materials degradation
perspective. This tool can be used to identify
areas where additional resource allocation
during the fabrication or installation phases


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Welding and Fabrication Influence on Stress Corrosion Cracking (SCC)

can substantially reduce the risk of long-term

environmental degradation. The content is
intended to serve as a source of fundamental
reference information and of key relationships
between welding and fabrication factors
and environmentally assisted degradation
modes. Application of the recommendations
highlighted in this report will be beneficial
in preventing the recurrence of degradation
issues observed in operating reactor designs.
The report content includes:
Welding processes, pre and post
fabrication processes, important restraint
configurations, and mitigation techniques
Degradation mechanisms anticipated to be
active in new nuclear power plants (and
which also can be influenced by welding
and fabrication)
Expert opinion regarding the relative merits
of welding, fabrication, and mitigation
techniques (higher risk factors and
associated risk reduction strategies)
It is recognized that welding and fabrication
influence on materials environmental
degradation comprises only one of a number
of complex, interrelated issues. These issues
include, but are not limited to, ASME Code design
requirements, technology application feasibility,
component functionality, construction budgets,
and specific manufacturer capabilities and
preferences. Accordingly, the EPRI report does
not set prescribed requirements for fabrication
or installation. Rather, broad guidance is
provided to direct users toward welding,
fabrication, and mitigation approaches that
have the greatest probability of improving longterm material performance.
The report is designed to allow users to
move from higher level summary information
into progressively more detailed information
using results summaries, influence tables,
descriptive text, and reference listings.
Chapter 3 and Chapter 4 of the report contain
welding and fabrication influence tables for
advanced BWR and advanced PWR designs,
respectively. Within these chapters, individual
sections address each material of construction
evaluated. For each material, influence tables
are used to illustrate the relative influence of
welding and fabrication processes. Individual
influence tables are provided for each of the
important areas addressed in this project:
Welding processes.

Table 1. List of degradation contributors.


A welding or other heat treatment process that produces a

condition whereby the heat-affected region of the component
becomes susceptible to intergranular stress corrosion cracking.
The process is characterized by the formation of chromium
carbides at the grain boundary combined with a corresponding
reduction of chromium in the vicinity of the grain boundary. This
reduction of chromium, if sufficient, changes the character of
the protective oxide at the grain boundary, making the material
susceptible to intergranular stress corrosion cracking.

Cold Work

Surface cold work results from fabrication processes

(e.g. machining, grinding, and forming). Cold work has
been found to reduce the SCC resistance of stainless
steel and nickel alloys. Cold work produces a surface
and near surface layer with substantially elevated yield
strength and a corresponding reduction in toughness.

Weld Residual Stress

Weld residual stress develops through the thickness of the

welded joint as a result of the alternate melting and solidification
and shrinkage associated with the weld deposition process. The
residual stresses are typically formed during the final several
layers, when most of the weld remains solid, and the material
continues to expand, contract and shrink with resistance
provided by the non-molten material. The process produces
tensile residual stresses approaching the yield stress within the
structure. The location of these stresses is dependent upon the
stiffness of the structure and the radial bending at the surface.

Reduced toughness

Reduced toughness can result from the use of some flux

shielded welding processes (e.g. SMAW, SAW, and FCAW).
Reduced toughness can contribute to material degradation
in the form of reduced resistance to crack propagation
under loading and decreased critical crack sizes.

Fabrication processes.
Restraint conditions and configurations.
Available mitigation technologies.
These influence tables can be used to quickly
identify where welding and fabrication effects
can be significant and what kinds of process
controls or mitigation techniques may be
These influence tables provide an upperlevel view of the relative influence of welding
and fabrication techniques on materials
degradation. Supporting these influence tables
are technical discussions and reference listings.
Influence tables are used to illustrate
the relative influence of welding and
fabrication factors on applicable degradation
mechanisms. Again, these tables have been


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developed based on input from a number

of experts representing NSSS vendors,
component OEMs, and EPRI consultants.
Influence tables are based on a key
assumption that:
1. Degradation mechanisms are influenced
by degradation contributors in a fixed
manner for each material group and
2. Welding and fabrication factors influence
degradation contributors in fixed manner
for each material group.
In this way, evaluation of welding or fabrication
process effects on material condition is
separated from the effect of degradation
contributors on material performance. The EPRI
project team identified four key degradation
contributors. Table 1 contains definitions


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for the four identified; sensitization, residual
stress, cold work, and reduced toughness.
This document is built around a set of
assumptions regarding welding and fabrication
processes and how these processes influence
materials degradation. While this project
is focused on advanced BWR and PWR
designs, the process is based on establishing
fundamental relationships between welding
and fabrication process and degradation
modes. As a result, the concepts used by this
process could be applied to other applications,
such as evaluation of repair processes for
operating reactor plants. The following key
assumptions provide the framework for this
critical factors document:
The project focuses on areas where
welding and fabrication factors can
influence the initiation of degradation
mechanisms. Therefore, the results address
only those degradation mechanisms
which are influenced by welding and
fabrication processes. The EPRI project
team determined that only SCC, Fatigue,
and IASCC are significantly influenced by
welding and fabrication processes. Other
degradation mechanisms were considered
by the project team, but determined not to
be significantly influenced by welding and
fabrication processes.
Degradation phenomena can be related to
underlying contributing conditions. These
degradation contributors are deleterious
material conditions that are promoted
or caused by a welding or fabrication
process and which increase a materials
susceptibility to a known degradation
mechanism. For example, cold work is
considered to be a substantial contributor
to SCC of stainless steel materials in the
BWR environment. The EPRI project team
identified four key degradation contributors;
sensitization, residual stresses, cold work,
and reduced toughness. Table 1 defines
these contributors.
Degradation phenomena can be related
conditions. These degradation initiators/
accelerators are deleterious material
conditions that promote initiation or
which increase susceptibility to a known
degradation mechanism. For example,
crevice corrosion or surface connected weld
flaws are likely sites for (and can promote)


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Welding and Fabrication Influence on Stress Corrosion Cracking (SCC)

Table 2. List of degradation initiator / accelerators.

Initiator / Accelerator

Definition / Applicability

Crevice Corrosion

Crevice corrosion is the electrochemical reaction caused by an

oxygenated media within a fluid-containing system. Regions
containing crevices (narrow gaps) can result in oxygen depletion
and a relatively high concentration of chloride or other negatively
charged ions that can increase susceptibility of materials to
stress corrosion cracking in the occluded region. Designs that
do not produce intentional crevices and welding approaches that
minimize crevices can mitigate crevice corrosion (no backing
rings, highest quality welding technique, optimal joint designs).
All structural materials used in light water reactors are potentially
susceptible to crevice corrosion, including austenitic stainless
steels, nickel alloys and carbon and low alloy steels. Susceptibility
is a strong function of oxygen level and impurity concentration.

Micro Fissures

Micro fissures are small cracks (often less than 100 m)

associated with the welding process. These may occur in
the weld metal or in the adjacent base metal. Examples
include reheat cracking, ductility dip cracking, liquation
cracking and other micro cracking. Micro fissures are often
too small to be detected by conventional NDE methods.

Welding Flaws
(surface connected)

Welding flaws are typically associated with weld joint cleanliness

and operator proficiency. By definition, these flaws include
lack of fusion, porosity, lack of penetration, slag, or other flaws
resulting from poor process control or application. The flaws
of greatest concern are those open to the reactor coolant
(surface connected). By definition, these flaws meet ASME Code
acceptance criteria and do not require removal and repair.

SCC. The EPRI team identified three types

of initiator/accelerators; crevice corrosion
(or creviced geometry), micro-fissures,
and surface connected weld flaws. Table 2
describes these initiator/accelerators.
Welding and fabrication techniques and
mitigation techniques can be evaluated
based on influence on contributing
conditions, regardless of operating
environment. For example, heavy machining
is known to introduce significant cold work
into stainless steel components.
The overall influence of welding and
fabrication processes on degradation
modes is a function of welding or fabrication
conditions, contributing condition influence
on degradation modes, and on the presence,
or lack thereof, of aggravating initiating/
accelerating conditions.
As with the individual contributor results,

the overall influence is expressed as a result

category depending on the magnitude of the
overall influence value in cmparison with other
influence values for other materials applicable
to the design. BWR results are normalized
against other BWR results. PWR results are
normalized against other PWR results. Figure
2 illustrates how the presentation of results is
displayed and the background color scheme
utilized for each critical factor influence table.
Figure 3 shows an example fabrication
influence table, this one is for low carbon
stainless steel base metal heat affected zone
(HAZ) for a BWR environment.
As shown in Figure 3, machining (shaped
tool), grinding, and cold rolling were the
fabrication factors that had the highest
overall influence for SCC for low carbon
stainless steel base metal HAZ used in a
BWR environment. Cold work (CW) is the
high influence contributor leading to this


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Welding and Fabrication Influence on Stress Corrosion Cracking (SCC)


Figure 2. Example critical factor influence table cell, Figure 2-2 from the report.

Figure 3. Example influence table, low carbon stainless steel base metal HAZ fabrication influence for a BWR environment, Table 3.1-2 from the report.

High Influence Contributor


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Welding and Fabrication Influence on Stress Corrosion Cracking (SCC)

Figure 4. Example influence table, low carbon stainless steel base metal HAZ welding influence, Table 3.1-1 from the report.

Medium Influence Contributor

categorization (Note the orange color).

Figure 4 shows a similar example for a
welding influence table, this one is also for
low carbon stainless steel base metal HAZ for
a BWR environment.
Here you can see that a high heat input
welding factor results in medium influence
for SCC for low carbon stainless steel base
metal HAZ used in a BWR environment.
Residual stress (RS) is the medium influence
contributor leading to this categorization (Note
the yellow color).
As mentioned above, influence tables
are also provided for restraint conditions
and configurations and available mitigation
technologies for each of the materials of
interest for both BWR and PWR applications
in the report (not shown).
It is recognized that a number of commonly
used fabrication processes are capable
of introducing undesirable metallurgical
changes to the materials of construction for
light water reactors. Sensitization and cold
work in particular are damaging to several
materials' stress corrosion resistance. While
strict qualification and process controls can
limit the degree of damage on the surface or
in the bulk, it is often not practical to eliminate
the degradation mechanism entirely. This
is especially true when fabrication of large,
complex components is involved. Consequently,
for critical components (e.g. primary pressure
boundary, core support structures, etc.)
additional measures to mitigate the fabrication
induced damage can be considered beneficial.


31596_CSC11_Proceedings_INT_120224.indd 344

While these measures will almost inevitably

add some cost to construction or installation,
this cost is relatively minor compared to the cost
of repair or replacement after the plant has been
put in service. A number of different mitigation
methods have been developed specifically for
application to light water reactor components
or adapted from other industries. Many aim
for improvement of the stress condition in a
weld zone on surfaces wetted by the reactor
environment. Other processes modify the water
chemistry condition at the component surface.
Another group of processes apply a barrier
between the susceptible material and the
reactor water environment.
All of these processes have been shown to be
effective in the laboratory, and most have been
applied to operating light water reactors. While
a number of these techniques were originally
developed to address SCC in BWRs, most are
also applicable to some situations in PWRs,
particularly where nickel alloys are involved.
Weld repairs are also addressed in the
report. It is noted that weld repairs may
introduce defects on the inside or outside
diameter of components as part of the welding
or surface conditioning process. These repairs
may produce lack of fusion, introduction
of non-metallic inclusions, solidification
cracking, porosity, or slag types of defects.
These defects increase the likelihood for
either SCC or fatigue initiation in these
components. The increased traditional use of
workmanship standards in new construction
and replacement is considered a gap in

current technology. Some unnecessary repairs

that increase susceptibility to SCC could be
eliminated by the use of damage based fitness
for service flaw acceptance criteria such as
are found in ASME XI, Pre-Service Acceptance
Standards like those presented in IWB-3500
of Section XI of the ASME Code. In particular
small flaws such as porosity and slag that are
embedded in a weld away from the surface
exposed to the aggressive environment are
benign. However, these defects can increase
the probability of SCC and/or fatigue initiation
in these components if they are on the
surfaces. In general small fabrication flaws or
small cracks that are embedded in the weld
have little or no impact on crack initiation by
SCC or fatigue. The excavation and local repair
of these small embedded flaws is generally
far more detrimental to long term structural
integrity of the component than allowing these
defects to remain within the component [7] .
EPRI has worked the ASME Section III to
develop a Code Case to implement a fitness-forservice approach, such as employed by ASME
Section XI, to evaluate flaw acceptance for nonsurface connected benign fabrication flaws.

EPRI issued a document which provides a
tool to assist ANT members in developing,
reviewing, and implementing requirements for
fabrication and installation of new nuclear plant
components from a materials degradation


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Welding and Fabrication Influence on Stress Corrosion Cracking (SCC)

perspective. This tool can be used to identify

areas where additional resource allocation
during the fabrication or installation phases
can substantially reduce the risk of long-term
environmental degradation.
The Welding and Fabrication Critical
Factors for New Nuclear Power Plants report
provides background information and specific
guidelines on which processes or process
parameters could effectively reduce the
relative risk ranking.
Optimizing welding, fabrication, or surfaceconditioning practices in the susceptible
areas of critical components can significantly
improve the life and reliability of new nuclear
power plants, preventing forced shutdowns
and reducing outage maintenance costs. The
project was an ambitious collaborative effort
to develop information and tools that will
enable project participants to build reliability
into new nuclear power plants. Working
together, utilities, equipment manufacturers,
vendors, and the welding community can seize
the opportunity to apply improved welding
and fabrication practices to ensure that new
nuclear plants will operate reliably over their

designed 60-year lifetimes [5] .

The author would like to acknowledge the
support of the Advanced Nuclear Technology
(ANT) department within EPRI for the
development of Welding and Fabrication Critical
Factors for New Nuclear Power Plants, 1019209,
including J. Hamel and L. Midmore. The
principle investigators who were responsible for
preparation of the document: S. McCracken and
E. Willis, Welding and Repair Technology Center
(WRTC) of EPRI. And the EPRI contractors who
prepared, supported, and coordinated efforts to
create the document, including: W. Lunceford,
T. DeWees and D. Beal (Alliance Engineering);
D. Sandusky (XGEN Engineering), A. Giannuzzi
and R. Hermann (Hermann and Associates).

1. ASM Handbook Volume 11, Failure
Analysis and Prevention, ASM


31596_CSC11_Proceedings_INT_120224.indd 345

International, 2002.
2. Russell H. Jones, Stress Corrosion
Cracking, Materials Performance and
3. Materials Handbook for Nuclear Plant
Pressure Boundary Applications
(2010), EPRI, Palo Alto, CA, 2010.
4. Jeremy E. Scheel, Douglas J. Hornbach
and N. Jayaraman PhD, Preventing
Stress Corrosion Cracking of Nuclear
Weldments via Low Plasticity
Burnishing, Lambda Technologies.
5. Steve McCracken, Eric Willis and
Jeffery Hamel, Welding for New
Nuclear Power Plants: Building on
Experience, AWS Welding Journal,
May 2009.
6. NUREG/CR-6923, BLNNUREG-77111-2006, United States
Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
7. Welding and Fabrication Critical Factors
for New Nuclear Power Plants. EPRI,
Palo Alto, CA, 2009. 1019209.


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